Summary: This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.
Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.
What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.
Source: I received a digital copy from NetGalley
Trial by Fire was a book about witches in a parallel world. The parallel world aspect is what sets it apart from other witchy YA books and is the coolest aspect of the novel.
Lily, a sickly and awkward girl, had a huge crush on her best friend, Tristan. She finally got invited to go with him to a high school party and ended up walking in on him and another girl. When contacted by a voice asking her if she was willing to leave the world and become more powerful than she ever imagined, she decided to go ahead and try it out. The new world was one without science, with witches, and terrifying creatures.
In some ways, Trial by Fire was awesome. I loved the fact that it explored the possibility of parallel worlds and talked about the consequences of choices we make in our worlds. I love that Lily grew in the new world and how quickly she grew into her powers. She was powerful in the new world and the things that made her sick in her old world was part of her witchy powers.
In other ways, Trial by Fire was exactly as disappointing as so many paranormal witch YA books out there. The beginning didn’t make much sense. Whatever was happening between Lily and Tristan wasn’t exclusive, but she acted like it was. Then she decided to run away to another world just to get away from her problems, which isn’t exactly healthy. I’m not sure what would possess her to just agree to that. Once in the new world, she realized that her parallel self is the person who took her and is cruel and terrible. So she just decided to run away, knowing nothing about the new world at all.
I could probably make excuses for the main character, but it just bothers me how often I come across the TSTL heroine who makes terrible choices but somehow hones this amazing power and knows exactly what to do with it.
Trial by Fire was a cool idea with a decent execution, but it didn’t really deliver overall. I’m still left with tons of questions, I feel like there are large gaps in my knowledge about the world, and I don’t really like Lily at all as a person. I think it was risky for the author to impose such fierce opinions onto her main character. She was all anti-nuke, save the whales, doesn’t eat meat kind of person and it just didn’t work (or really even matter that much to the plot, so it just irked me). I probably won’t read the sequels, but I do recommend the book if you enjoy witch YA novels and aren’t bothered by gaps in the story and some typical YA tropes.