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Hi! I'm Selan. I love anime, sci-fi & fantasy, Kirby and 90s JRPGs. Right now I'm trying to expand my collection of books.


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Trial by Fire - Josephine Angelini

You know that phrase, "Don't judge a book by its cover"? Prime example right here. This book has a gorgeous cover, slick and beautiful. It's very pretty. The blurb on the back makes it sounds like a pretty good plot. It says nothing about the badly written crap that goes on inside.

There are a lot of problems with this book, but I think the main gripe I have with it is this: it's very badly written. I felt virtually no emotion from the characters for some time, everyone was written in the same two-dimensional fashion, and the first few chapters were virtually unreadable. It was pretty bad.

I swear, I would have dropped it then and there if I hadn't known it would involve magic and witchcraft of some kind.

Thankfully, the book improves a little once Lily enters the alternate universe. Which...isn't saying much. We now have some more characters introduced and most of them aren't written very well either. I liked AU!Tristan and that's about it.

Eventually, I decided to drop it anyway because the writing really was that bad. It was readable, but I could tell it wasn't going to get any better than this. Plus, the book was pushing for Lily x Rowan and Rowan just felt really creepy and I didn't like him at all.

Oh, and this is the first of a trilogy. If I read much more, I'll want to read to the end, and then possibly read the next two books which will be at least as painful as this one.

I will say that I actually liked Lily quite a bit once she became more assertive. I've seen reviews ranting that she's a Mary Sue, that every boy she meets falls in love with her, and that she seems amazing at magic without any training whatsoever. Well, there's plenty of background which explains why she's adept at magic (especially since the "other" Lily is an accomplished witch). As for the love triangle, well, it's pretty clear she's an attractive girl? So what if guys fall in love with her. I didn't mind her.

I also quite liked the magic aspect, which was quite interesting. However, this wasn't enough to get me to actually enjoy the book. The world-building was pretty shoddy and missing a lot of gaps, the action scenes were poorly written, and I honestly couldn't see this going in a good direction.

Plus Gideon is apparently the main villain and he is *really* badly-written. I swear I've seen his kind of character in hundreds of books already.

Oh, and the character goes on about being vegan for a while, and how she actually owns a T-shirt reading "I'm a Vegan. Yes, that does mean I'm better than you." Seriously? Okay, there was no reason why the author had to put stuff like that...

In general the book is pretty problematic, the main love interest seems creepy, the only other character I like is shafted to the side, and really everything is a bit of a mess. There are worse books I can think of, but that's no reason to force yourself through this.