Book Review: The Iron Trial ARC by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

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This review is based on an advanced reader’s copy of the novel obtained through Scholastic at the American Library Association Conference for free. This is in no way had an effect on the integrity of my review. Please note that published novel will differ from this ARC.

Genre: 

Middle Grade, Fantasy

Pages: 

295

Part of a Series?:

This is the first novel in the Magisterium series, of five planned novels.

Release Date: 

September 8, 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Cassandra’s Website / Holly’s Website

GoodReads Summary: 

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

My Review:

When I heard that Holly Black and Cassandra Clare were releasing a new book together, I knew immediately that I had to read it. When I found out it was a middle grade, I was slightly deterred because I feel like I just getting older and older but I adore both of these authors and still felt the desire to read the book. I got my hands on an ARC at ALA in July and it was one of the first books that I knew I wanted to read.

That being said, it took me a couple weeks to read it. I started it, got about half way through and then had to put it aside for a bit. I read 8 other books, including my Bloodlines reread, before picking it up. Once I picked it up again, I sped through the last half and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think I was used to YA and the sort of adult stories in that and it took me a second to adjust to a middle grade story. Once I was able to do that, I immediately fell in love with the stories and the characters.

This is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and his Percy Jackson series, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and John and Carole Barrowman’s Hollow Earth series. It’s obviously influenced by the first two. Its full of adventure and magic and humor and the uncertainties that come with being a tween. Callum Hunt has all these insecurities, hidden behind a pretty thick veil of sarcasm and dry humor, added in with the fact that he is handicapped too. He’s brought to the Magisterium to learn magic and it feels like Harry going off to Hogwarts or Percy arriving at Camp Half Blood. Its a whole new world and you get to experience that will Callum and its so fun. Throw in his mentor, his two new best friends and a pretty awesome animal that becomes a kind of an unusual pet.

But what I love about it is the depth that comes from that. What could be a silly story of magic and spells actually holds a lot of depth. I mean, don’t get me wrong: this story IS fun. Callum makes me laugh and his friends are awesome, and there’s just a lot about it that’s just so whimsical and really makes me think of Harry Potter. But, like HP, there’s a deeper story there, one that is very unexpected. It actually threw me quite off guard and when it happened, I knew immediately that I needed to keep reading. The story is twisting and turning and I honestly hope that it will make its way into plenty of middle grader readers because I think its a great book. There’s magic and adventure and friendship and insecurities, and doubt and learning and growing up and so much that I would want in a book at that age and even now, and that’s what made it so good.

I do believe that the beginning lagged a bit but whether that was because I wasn’t feeling that sort of book at the moment or it could be that the beginning honestly lagged. Only a reread of the book would tell me the answer completely but I do feel like the beginning lagged a bit due to the lessons that Callum and his companions were learning. As time went on and the story progressed, it made sense but I did struggle with the beginning, definitely.

In the end, it became a truly good novel, and it is a definitely one of the few middle grade series that will remain on my radar in the next couple years.

Rating:

4 out of 5 Stars

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