Monday, September 22, 2014

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini (Worldwalker Series book 1)

"Worlds Collide. Magic Reigns. Love Burns."

Lillian "Lily" Proctor and Tristan Corey have been best friends since childhood. Over the years, Tristan became one of the popular students while Lily was shunned for her severe allergies and embarrassing rumors about her mother. Tonight, he has promised to take her to a party. Throughout their Salem, Massachusetts high school, Tristan is known as a ladies man. Lily has harbored a secret crush since she discovered boys were different from girls. Everything between them changed three days ago when Tristan finally kissed Lily. No matter how sick she gets at school that day, Lily is determined to let nothing stop her from going to the party with Tristan. After leaving science class together, Tristan isn't certain that Lily feels well. She has hidden an allergic reaction from him. Tristan is leaning up against her at their lockers when a shout breaks them apart. Miranda, a sophomore, is in disbelief that Tristan and Lily are together. Lily and Tristan don't talk about his love life but she is pretty sure the two of them were together a few weeks ago. Speechless, Miranda looks at Lily before setting her sights on Tristan. Tristan isn't kind to Miranda and sends Lily on to class. Before she walks into her classroom, Lily hears Miranda slap Tristan across the face.

Not sure where the two of them stand, Lily waits after school by Tristan's car for a ride home. Her psychotic mother is in no shape to drive so she doesn't have a choice but to ride with him. Tristan is in no mood to talk. Dropping Lily off at home, Tristan tells her that he will pick her up later for the party. Lily finds her mother in the garage with her potter's wheel. Her mother comments that she looks unharmed but that she almost came to school to get her. Lily notices the mess her mother has made in the garage and that her meds have slurred her speech. Her mother says that the principal never called so the girl must have beat up someone else. She seems to know the difference between what happened her and what could have happened. Lily takes her mother into the house before making some phone calls.

Lily's parents have been in Salem since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, as have Tristan's. Her father doesn't answer the phone. No big surprise since he stays away for his sick daughter and crazy wife, who is an embarrassment to him. Samantha Proctor goes around town saying she knows everyone's dirty little secrets. If she happens to be wrong, she just says that someone like them is doing it instead. Samantha's mental breakdowns increased around the same time Lily's reactions accelerated. Her sister Juliet answers and knows that something is wrong. Lily tells her about their mother and asks if she can come over and stay with her while she goes to the party with Tristan. Juliet questions her attending because her allergic reactions could be numerous. They will talk about it. Juliet arrives and checks on their mother. She tells Lily that their mother is paranoid. She believes that another Lillian is going to take her Lillian.

At the party, Tristan is concerned about Lily having a reaction. She assures him that she is going to be fine. Inside, they meet up with Scot, the host of the party. He lets them know that Miranda is there. Tristan and Lily decide that Tristan should just get the confrontation over with sooner rather than later. Tristan leaves. Scot begins to make his move on Lily. He gets her a bottle of water that gets jostled from her hand. Scot goes to replace it. He comes back with a cranberry spritzer saying that he is out of water. Lily takes a sip and thinks that it tastes slightly off. Scot goes on about how her and Tristan are now together and he has always thought that she was pretty. Lily begins to get hot, her body temperature runs abnormally high, and Scot suggests that they head towards the back of the house since everyone is smoking on the front porch. He takes her to his bedroom. She is surprised to find that he has his own balcony and he offers to leave the door open. He takes her out to a loveseat and they sit down. Scot begins to kiss her as she realizes that something is terribly wrong. Scot admits to spiking her drink with a little vodka and she begins to have a reaction. She needs to get to Tristan and Scot tells her where to find him. Turns out he and Miranda are half naked in the bathroom. Seeing them, Lily's condition gets worse and she begins seizing. She has an out of body experience and sees herself on the floor. In the background she hears a faint voice saying, “You are sick in this world. Come to me and be the most powerful person in the world.” No, Lily says to the voice and herself. Tristan panics and rushes to get her to the hospital. He and Breakfast, a boy at the party get her into Tristan’s car. She tells him that she won’t make it to the hospital and he rushes her home to Juliet. There, they place her in the bathtub and fill it with ice. Breakfast is worried that she is going to die. Her temperature begins to drop.

Lily wakes up in bed with Tristan holding her. Up until just a few days ago, that was her biggest wish. Now she just wants to get up without waking him but she does. He asks how she is doing and can’t believe Scot drugged her drink. She can see how angry he is. Lily looks at him and says that Scot didn’t leave her for another girl. Lily remains calm but Tristan gets angry. He never promised her anything and he isn’t ready to be faithful to her. She tells him that doesn’t make him a good person. She sees him leave and Lily knows that their friendship has been irrevocably damaged. He won’t be there when she has bad days at school. She changes clothes and heads down to the shore. With her mind finally clear, Lily wishes she could just disappear. The same voice from earlier fills her head and asks, “Are you ready to go now?” Yes, Lily says and wonders if this is now her mother feels. “I’m done here.”  Lily’s mind is clear for a few moments before the voice comes back. “It will be terrifying. It was for me.”

That was Lily’s only warning about what was to come. First, she is numb, no sensory perception and disembodied from herself. Then the two vibrations come and stop just as quickly as they started. Then, Lily is able to feel her body again. She is still in the same spot on the shore but things looked different. There is no smog on the horizon, the air seems fresher and there is more marine life in the tidal pools. She looks behind her and sees the familiar shoreline but that is all that is the same. Lily is still in Salem, just not the same one she was in moments ago. This Salem is now a city larger than Boston. She rushes towards it, only to be stopped by a fortification wall that looks as if it has been there for hundreds of years. She is spotted by the soldiers on patrol and they refer to her as the Lady of Salem. Looking closely at the soldiers, nothing about them seems medieval. In fact everything looks old and modern at the same time. Lily realizes that she must be a doppelganger for their leader by the way they treat her with the utmost respect.

They bring her inside the walls and she asks to go home. They take Lily to her citadel. Lily walks inside and finds that she doesn't go back to her own home. She isn't sure what to do when she hears Juliet. She rushes up the stairs to her sister but stops short when she gets a good look at her. Taking in the differences in this Juliet's appearance, Lily's mind recalls what her mother said earlier, "There isn't a Juliet who doesn't love you." Lily wraps Juliet in a hug and whispers that she is lost and the new Juliet says that it is okay. Juliet leads her down a hallway to her rooms. She opens the door by placing her hand on it and her necklace flashes. Lily asks how she did that and Juliet replies by asking "Who are you?" A familiar but worn-out voice replies "She is me." Juliet and Lily are both confused and the voice answers that she brought her here with her consent. Juliet asks the sickly girl what she has done. The girl replies that she has brought another version of herself into this world. The girl, now in bed, waves Lily over and introduces herself as Lillian. Lily sees that apart from minor variations she is looking at herself. Lillian explains that they are versions of one another. Lily finds out that her mother isn't crazy but is able to see infinite versions of the universe. The mother in this world killed herself to get them to stop. Juliet begs Lillian to send her back. She has kept her secret, even from Rowan. She tells both Lily and Juliet that she brought Lily there for a reason. Once Lily is past her fear, she’ll want to stay. Lily asks Lillian to let her go back home. Lillian says to what; slowly dying and pining over Tristan. Angry, Lily realizes that Lillian needs her. She threatens to leave and Juliet begs Lillian to stop her. Lillian says that Lily will be back "because you can't run from yourself forever."

What is Lily so ill in her own world? Why is Lillian so ill in her world? Why did Lillian bring Lily to the alternate Salem? What will Lily find outside of the Citadel? Who exactly is Lillian in her version of Salem? What secrets has Juliet kept for Lillian, even from Rowan? Will Lily be discovered? Can Lily find her way back home or will she be stuck in this alternate universe forever?

Part fantasy, part science fiction, with a splash of the Salem Witch Trials, readers will eagerly await the second book in the Worldwalkers series.

The trilogy will continue with Trail of Tears in Fall 2015 and conclude in Fall 2016 with Traitor's Pyre.

Visit the Worldwalker trilogy website.

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