Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black


Publisher: Doubleday Children’s Books
Release date: September 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0857532502
Pages: 295
Goodreads || Book Depository

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .


4 stars

The Iron Trial is the first instalment in the Magisterium Series, which is a five-book middle-grade series. I initially had no plans to pick up this series but Cassandra Clare and Holly Black are holding an event in Sydney in mid-August to promote the next book, The Copper Gauntlet. So I thought I’d pick it up and give it a go. This was a very quick read for me, since it is a middle-grade series. I finished it in one sitting.

I thought The Iron Trial was a really fun middle-grade fantasy read, and a great start to the series. There was a lot of really good world and character building, though at times I wish we got to see even more of the world, especially outside of the Magisterium. The atmosphere of the whole book was great, as was the twist near the end of the book. Cassandra Clare is just so great with all of her plot twists! (I haven’t read anything else by Holly Black yet, so I can’t comment on her plot twists). The Iron Trial was filled with action and mystery in every chapter, and was just a really engaging read.

While there were some elements that reminded me a lot of the Harry Potter series, I think The Iron Trial brings something completely different to the table. It turns the classic magician’s tale on its head and the story is just not what you’d expect. I liked the magic system in this book and I hope we get to learn more about it in the upcoming books. The writing in this book wasn’t really to my taste. Because this is a middle-grade series, the writing felt a bit juvenile to me, but I would have definitely liked it more if I was younger.

Let’s talk about the characters. I really liked Call a lot. He by no means is a hero or the ‘chosen one’. He’s just your average kid who gets bullied by his classmates, but manages to find a world where he fits in. At times, his spontaneity and recklessness annoyed me a little but you have to keep in mind that he’s a 12 year old. My biggest complaint about his character was his name. I don’t understand why Callum gets shortened to Call… because I read that as ‘call’ and not ‘Cal’. Aaron and Tamara, who I kind of see as Ron and Hermione, were interesting characters. I liked Aaron from the very beginning but it took a while before Tamara grew on me. The friendship between the three was really great and was definitely reminiscent of Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Even though I could keep drawing Harry Potter parallels, I thought The Iron Trial (and The Magisterium Series) was quite unique in its world and magic system and I’m looking forward to the next book.


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