We return to the best YA werewolf series known to the genre, this is said by Melissa Marr, and me.
Bryn knew all along that the other Alphas that make up the Senate--besides Callum--would come after her at some point in time for the female Weres in her pack. And when Shay comes to the forefront of a new feud between the Cedar Ridge Pack and the Snake Bend Pack, it comes as no surprise. Shay, being Bryn's best friend's older brother and Alpha of the Snake Bend Pack, has instigated the most unassuming and by-the-book tactics in order to acquire what he wants most. The rare gems in the werewolf community: female werewolves.
When a foreign wolf enters Bryn's territory badly broken in all meaning of the word, and invades her pack's lives, Bryn feels it is her duty as Alpha to protect this wolf from his previous Alpha and the others willing to fight to get him back. Only those others are nothing like anything Bryn and her Pack has ever encountered before. We're talking a whole new ballpark here.
Barnes strikes another wonder with this new installment on the insight of Bryn's new life as an Alpha. Not only does it feel like Bryn is maturing as a character but she faces some astronomically tough decisions when it comes to the safety of all those dependent on her. She always feels like she should be on the front line, fighting against future threats head-on but soon comes to realize, that though she has a responsibility toward her pack, she is not the least bit alone. Barnes is able to construct scenarios where the Alpha gets the final say, and where she also has to consider all the options and determine that the safest choice may not be the best. Being Alpha is impossible, and Bronwyn Alessia St. Vincent Clare is an impossible girl.
What was a major theme throughout the whole duration of Trial by Fire was the constant participation of other characters in almost every scene. I do love when the main character--heroine, in this case--is in a solitude state to recover from the latest fiasco, but in this book you get a dose of any and all other characters. At times, I did not appreciate the constant intrusion but, otherwise, it really helped unravel Ali's--Bryn's foster mother's--past, more information on the inner workings of Chase, and the villainous temperament of all that is Shay; among other new characters that are introduced with a deadly mindset and whose histories were interesting to flip through too. Minor twists in the plot really kept the ball rolling, and closer to the second half of the book, things got really interesting. Barnes orchestrated the events in Trial by Fire like a music director, always in sync to the outcomes and surprising the heck out of me when I read Bryn's logical solutions.
I hope that the series continues with those troubling moments because what I enjoy the most is the depth that Barnes presents to the choices that Bryn makes, and that constant possibility that she may not outlive them. (Being the only human Alpha in existence in their werewolf world.)
I would not recommend reading this book as a stand-alone, just because I thought the first book, Raised by Wolves, really holds some valuable informative issues that provides the starting point of everything Bryn.