Also by this author: Firewalker
Published by Feiwel & Friends, Macmillan on September 2nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Witches, Young Adult
Pages: 384 •Format: Hardcover •Source: Purchased
"A Must Read Romance. This is one of the best books I've read this year. It has everything a book should have: action, adventure, violence, a butt-kicking heroine and one hot hero." --USA TodayThis world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergiesmake it increasingly difficult to live a normal life, and after a completely humiliating incident ruins her first (and perhaps only) real party, she's ready to disappear."Come and be the most powerful person in the world."Suddenly, Lily finds herself in a different Salem. One overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women--including Lillian, this world's version of Lily. "It will be terrifying. It was for me."What made Lily weak at home, makes her extraordinary here. It also puts her in terrible danger. Faced with new responsibilites she can barely understand and a love she never expeceted, Lily is left with one question: How can she be the savior of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?
I usually write very calm, analytical reviews. In fact, I pride myself on it. I like being able to look back on my reviews and have a clear and coherent message as to my thoughts on a book. However, much of that I fear is going to go out the window with this review because I cannot stop flailing over how much I loved this book. It’s only the second book I’ve picked up so far in 2015 but it’s already become my first five star read of the year!
I love this book because…
Science. The world building and basic plot of this world pull from actual scientific theories (such as the idea of parallel universes) that could be true (if stretched a bit) and therefore the worlds feel so much more vivid knowing that it could kinda sorta be possible. I’ll be the first to admit that I was not the hugest science fan in school (I do run a book blog, after all) but there’s a lot of careful and thought out scientific theory that goes into every nuance of this world, from how spirit walking is possible to begin with to how heat is transmuted into energy on the most basic level to produce “magic.” While some of it did become a little hard to follow at some points (I never took physics, I opted for anatomy instead) I appreciated how carefully the author thought out her world building and how readers aren’t supposed to just accept something as being possible, as Lily is always questioning how things work. Like Lily, readers get a constantly developing picture of how the fantasy parallel universe works throughout the novel rather than an info dump, which is how proper world-building should be done!
“Magic is science that only people who are born with a particular talent can do.” (222)
Magic. While the foundation of the fantasy world is built on scientific principles, some characters are genetically able to perform certain types of science (which I would describe in more detail BUT I don’t want to spoil anything). These people are mechanics, crucibles, and witches. It was fascinating to read how willstones worked and how those who could perform “magic” could perform scientific miracles that could sustain thousands upon thousands of people (such as purifying vast quantities of water and creating antibiotics). In the “real” world that she comes from, Lily is a huge environmental activist so watching her struggle with not wanting to accept that she’s a witch but also realizing the potential she has to help sustain a world that doesn’t need to burn fossil fuels or use nuclear energy really develops her as a character. Mechanics, crucibles, and witches also form a superior political rank than the average citizens do, as magic is what sustains the thirteen cities and the Witch of Salem (Lily’s other-world self, Lillian) is the leader, leading to political intrigue in the book as well, in a world that is part medieval and part futuristic.
Chemistry. As in romance. (See what I did there? Punny, I know). While this book is by no means a romance centered book, the element is there for those who enjoy it (which is definitely me). And while romance may not be a main focus of the plot, when it did happen it was very intimate and pretty steamy. All witches have the ability to “claim” other people by touching their willstones, and when one is claimed by a witch it binds their life pattern of sorts to her. This claiming on such a soulful, deep level is the ultimate intimate act, literally being able to reach into someone’s mind and will. Witches often claim a mechanic who’s scientific abilities are used to keep the witch in tip top shape and assist her in spells and rituals, and the bond they share is so intimate and so close that it’s impossible to negate having a soul-deep connection with one another. This is where Rowan comes into play. Rowan is a renowned mechanic, perhaps the most powerful in all thirteen cities, and when Lily inadvertently becomes his responsibility, they become irrevocably bonded. Watching their sort-of romance develop (amidst a lot of negative feelings about their situations) is the best sort of slow-burn romance, and the importance of a witch’s body to rituals and spells, along with being her mechanic’s responsibility, leads to a lot of steamy physical tension. I don’t know if any of this makes coherent sense if you haven’t read the book, but all you really need to know is that Rowan is everything and Lily and Rowan are my official ship of 2015.
Values. The world building also bucks a lot of the traditional fantasy tropes as well as holding a lot of different values from our own society. The society is matriarchal, with the Witch of Salem and the Coven who do the essential work to run and care for the cities all being female, while mechanics all seem to be male. The alternate Salem has used sciency-magic to fuel their world through sustainable magical resources and are able to create meat without holding livestock, light their cities with glowing trees and fauna, and issues such as smog and pollution are nearly unheard of. The alternate Salem is also much less modest, with the physical body being the main source of power for witches and therefore nudity is not as shameful and taking pride in one’s body (and sexuality) is not taboo.
Overall: This book had me flailing nonstop and now has me recommending it to everyone I know! The world building was the best I’ve read in a long time, and that coupled with an original blend of science and magic, a main character who goes through a lot of growth, a steamy simmering romance and a super sustainable matriarchal society has me wanting to run in circles around my room just to wear off the hyper energy of how gleeful I was upon finishing it…and upon finding my new book boyfriend. One note of caution though- be prepared for a cliffhanger ending!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Goodreads Challenge