By Josephine Angelini
SOMETIMES I READ A SERIES OUT OF ORDER. In this case, I couldn’t help it. The library only had Firewalker, Book II of the WorldWalker Series, and the cover was so pretty that I couldn’t resist.
So, at first I was a bit confused digesting that a witch burning on a pyre could world-jump into alternate realities, but then I thought, cool. Now, Lily and Rowan aren’t my favorites. Rowan is pretty awesome but too perfect. He never messes up and he always knows best. Lily is a breed of witch known as a Mary Sue. She is so perfect that I was rooting for her evil alternate dimension twin, Lillian, just because she was much more of a flawed badass. But the world-building and creativity in this book made me so excited. I felt like I was reading The Golden Compass for the first time, except without the soulful characters.
Lily is a witch and the only one who can stand against her twin Lillian, a powerful other version of her that rules alternate Salem, in a world where warfare and terrifying Woven beasts have destroyed much of the known world. Interestingly enough, this means that First Nations peoples never experienced reservations and still have their versions of tribes, one of which Rowan is from. Rowan used to be in love with Lillian before she turned into a power-hungry dictator who hung scientists. In this book, we see what drove Lillian’s decisions by experiencing Lillian’s visits to Cinder Worlds, which again, is a very neat idea.
Much of this book is slow. Lily recovers, talks to Rowan, sleeps, talks to her mother, eats, talks to her sister about a vague threat from a government agent, and then recovers some more. Finally, her Earth friends Tristan, Breakfast, and Una say, “Enough already, tell us what the hell is going on.” Interestingly enough, they all show signs of being Mechanics, warriors who all specialize in certain abilities like healing or fighting which are heightened once they are claimed and fueled by a witch. Or that’s my Book II understanding of it, anyway. Still majorly cool. They world-jump with Lily back to the Salem that’s in trouble and start making their battle plan to stop Lillian before nuclear warfare breaks out and the visions of a dead Cinder World comes to pass.
The hands-down most awesome part of this book was The Hive. These are Woven who are yep, you guessed it: killer bees! But not just any killer bees. Their main fighters are the “Warrior Sisters,” who are as tall as humans, have poisoned whips, and are supernaturally fast given their insectoid eyesight and wings. Freakin’ awesome. I was riveted the entire scene when they encounter The Hive. Usually fantasy novels speak with fear to hype up certain mythical beasts and I think, yeah, yeah, so scary. But in this case, the characters’ fear truly felt real.
There is a key cliffhanger involving The Hive at the end of the book, and so I’ll have to get my hands on Book III: Witch’s Pyre just to see what happens. This is truly an imaginative book. The characters don’t get much depth beyond what we typically see in YA Fiction, but Rowan, Breakfast, and Una specifically are an endearing bunch, and the world-building is top-notch.
Recommend for fans of: Philip Pullman, Julie Kagawa, Susan Ee
Upcoming Book Review: Fate Fallen by Sharon Stevenson