The Worldwalker Trilogy is a series of fantasy/science-fiction novels by bestselling author, Josephine Angelini. The first book, Trial by Fire, follows Lily Proctor, a sickly girl who is transported to an alternate universe where magic is favored over science. However, Lily finds herself at odds with Lillian, her identical other self in this world, who is also the tyrannical ruler of Salem. Discovering that she is a witch, Lily must her newfound power to fight a war that is brewing between the inhabitants of this world.
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ 3/4
I had initially planned to do a separate review for each book of this trilogy, however, with the rate of how I devoured the books, I decided it was best if I just did one big lump review. Besides, I didn’t want to stop reading long enough to write a review and if I tried to write a review while I was submerged in the next book, I would most likely forget where one book left off and the other ended.
That being said, I have to address one thing that bothered me. Not about the books, rather about some of the reviews that I read after I had read the books (I refuse to read any reviews beforehand since I don’t want anyone’s opinions influencing my own feelings about the book). There was a lot of reviews that called the main character a Mary Sue and while I can see some elements of this being true (Lily is one of the most powerful witches to appear in a while), I don’t think it’s fair to say that she’s a full out Mary Sue. Nowhere has it ever said that Lily was a super special girl in the beginning. Yes, she’s different because she suffers horribly from her ‘allergies’ and her normal temp is higher than the average person. However, that’s not Mary Sueing when you continue reading and you find out why she is different.
Lily is a witch, however in her universe which is our universe, the witches of the Salem witch trial who found their power in transmuting fire into power, ran away and hid. They didn’t develop as the Lilies in parallel universes, so our heroine’s world has no way of dealing with girls like her (and yes we do find others like her) and thinks she’s an oddball case of genetics and history. That doesn’t make her a Mary Sue, just one of many who are the results of a choice in history that created the universe they live in; because there are more people like her, more crucibles or possible witches, we just don’t get to seem them or have a big focus on them (one gets a short focus at the very end of the series, just saying).
Another issue some reviewers had that Lily is a beautiful girl who tries to play off her beauty. Now Lily never says she’s not pretty, she says she hasa nice face although she’s not happy with her body….. wait this sounds familiar. What woman since she’s hit the moment of puberty or takes an interest in the opposite sex (or those of the same sex because that’s an option as well as many others) does not care about what she looks like and isn’t happy with it? My experience is very few and I envy the women who are confident and happy with what they see in the mirror because I know I sure as hell don’t and that’s been an ongoing problem since I was 12. That does not make someone a Mary Sue. That makes a character like the average teenage girl.
And as for the love triangle thing? Yes, it can be cliche, but there’s a reason why they exist, especially in YA books. Because on some level it appeals to a LOT of people. Just like having a character that is a bit Mary Sue-ish too who is powerful or suddenly becomes powerful. Because let’s face it and be honest, there is something in all of us who wishes to be that crazy powerful heroine/hero and save the day. If it wasn’t there in a secret place in our souls, these books wouldn’t sell and we wouldn’t read them even if we could borrow them free a the library. Cliches exist because they appeal to us somewhere inside and it drives me nuts that people try to act hoity toity about these things as if they don’t appeal to them.
That being said, I’m going to get off my mini-rant about this. I know not everyone is going to feel the same way as me about a book, but sometimes I think people are being too critical on some things and acting like they’re above that kind of crap. Believe me, most of us aren’t. I’m no saint and while I admit to moments of similar thinking that I just got mad about, I’m able to admit to the flaw and work to change it, hard as it may be, because that’s what people should do. In any case, each to their own even though it drives me crazy (and as long as your own doesn’t impact my life and those of my loved ones, but don’t worry I’m not going down the slippery slope of political rants).
Josephine Angelini creates an interesting world with the concept of parallel words where we have alternate versions of ourselves and how single events in history can cause a different parallel universe to appear and evolve on a different path. In the case of Lily, the witches that were hunted in the Salem trials hid and then never learned of the power that they were capable of. She is forced to learn of another universe by the Lily of that universe (who goes by Lillian which is their full name) where the witches learned of the power they got fire when the burned. Lillian learns of other universes through a Native American shaman (who Lillian’s world calls Outlanders because the people are made of not just of Native Americans but the people who got kicked out of the Thirteen Cities ruled by the witches) and goes on a quest to get rid of the Woven, genetically modified beasts created by witch magic that went horribly wrong (although no one realizes the true extent and why until the last book which I refuse to spoil). Lillian finds Cinder Worlds, or worlds that have or on the brink of losing all life as the result of what I understand as nuclear warfare which in some cases was the cause of stealing from other universes knowledge that shouldn’t’ have been gained. She comes back to her own and becomes a villain to stop her own universe from becoming a Cinder World when she realizes that stolen science and brings Lily because she needs her power and because at the core the two are very much alike. However Lily is more of an idealist and that trait is more and more clear as the series continues.
I loved this story because of the idea of parallel universes and because it really makes you sit and question yourself about what you would do to save the world and how some villains aren’t fundamentally evil but became evil in their quest to protect people they love. One’s actions are never really quite black and white and Lily and company (or I should say coven) learn of this.
Now to end this review with this quote:
“Love is willing to become the villain so that the one who you love can stay a hero.”
P.S. SPOILER: Anybody who has read the book ever wonder if there was a Rowan in Lily’s world?