Magic, madness, and malignancy: it’s tough to be a Mage. Especially when you’re Callum Hunt. Cassandra Clare (author of the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series) comes together with star Holly Black to build a magical world alongside our own that is definitely more than meets the eye. If you liked Harry Potter (or anything by Clare) then this is a must-read. It’s about the same length as the first HP and written for the same age group and I personally think it has lots of potential.
The Iron Trial follows Callum Hunt and his journey to…well something above mediocrity. His dad doesn’t want him to go to the Magisterium, despite having gone himself, and is always railing on the fact that magic killed Call’s mom. So Call goes to the testing knowing as the “iron trial” to get into the school with the intention of purposely failing to keep away from the school. Unfortunately for him, things don’t go as planned.
Call arrives at the school bitter, confused, and unhappy, and things don’t get much better from there. His teammates are two high-powered, intelligent, likable people that Call has no idea how to interact with. Between getting made fun of and fearing that he isn’t learning as quickly as his classmates, Call just wants to go home.
Little by little, he adjusts to life at the Magisterium but fears that what his dad said about the Masters and their goals might be true. Call walks the tightrope between enjoying himself and being miserable. A situation that isn’t helped when he begins unraveling the secrets of both the Magisterium and his own family’s past.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I was afraid it would be a Harry Potter knock-off or something equally as unimportant but I was absolutely sucked in to the plot. It was complex but not overly so, there were undertones of depth and a twist that isn’t quite what you expect. There is darkness lurking and it pops up in unexpected places, most delightful.
I did have one point of annoyance and that was the spelling of Callum’s nickname. Seeing “Call” on the page instead of “Cal” bothered me to no end. Every single time I read it, I wanted to pronounce it as it looked instead of how I knew it was pronounced and it became very distracting. But other than that, I loved the way this was written, very nice flow, easy language.
The major “love story” plot here was between Call and his dad which was great and the main emotions that were invoked were fear, frustration, and some sadness. The book was gripping but not overly intense, though I still had to pry my fingers from the page on occasion. Some strong personalities came into play which made for an even better read and I’m glad the Goodreads synopsis was as short and sweet as it was.
Goodreads rating: 4 stars
My personal rating: 88
- Writing style – 8
- Plot – 9
- Dialogue – 10
- Personality of Main Character(s) – 10
- Love story – 8
- Invokes emotion – 7
- Synopsis accuracy – 8
- Consistent level of interest – 9
- Stays on topic – 9
- Accuracy of genre/genre blending – 10