I remember my entrance exams to get into my secondary school. It was a thursday, my birthday, and I went home and watched the Matrix after completing tests on Science, English and Maths. It wasn’t a magic school, nobody asked me to make a broken pen work or float a piece of paper or keep a fire burning on a bowl of water and my parents didn’t tell me I would die if I got in. Just a few ways in which I am not Callum Hunt.
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…
I loved this book. I’ve really been enjoying magic in books lately and this world has a pretty nice magic system where the mages call on the elements to move and change things. I think that’s my favourite way of doing magic, I don’t want to have to carry around a wand like Harry Potter or swallow metal like Vin, calling on air, water, fire and earth sounds pretty convenient compared to that.
The one thing that took me a while to get used to was the setting, this underground magic school set in tunnels and caves. I’ve been in underground places like this in France and they are creepy. Drips down your back, air smelling like something you can’t quite describe but sets your teeth on edge, damp everywhere creepy. So yeah, it wasn’t my favourite setting but I understand the choice.
The characters are really well developed. There isn’t a single character that felt flat to me and I really appreciated that. One of my books on writing said that everyone is the main character in their own story, and when somebody left the room after interacting with Call they didn’t just poof out of existence in my mind, they went off to do their own thing. The main character, Call, is sarcastic and rude but I couldn’t help liking him anyway. In fact, I probably liked him a little more because of it. He’s a teen under it all.
The story carried me quickly through the book and kept me reading well into the night. There were twists, turns and all my expectations of what was going to happen ended up being so wrong. I can see how the series was set up and I’m really excited to continue with The Copper Gauntlet. Holly Black and Cassandra Clare cannot write these books quick enough for me.
I can’t end this review without talking about the elephant in the room. A magical white boy with messy dark hair going to magic school, where he fights a powerful enemy that wants to be immortal, with his two best friends. Yeah. This book could easily have taken a few steps to distance itself more from Harry Potter. A couple gender changes would have gone a long way. But hey. This book stands out on it’s own and I’m impressed. It may not replace Harry Potter at the top of my list of favourite books but it isn’t far down the list either.
Want to read this book? You can find it here!
Have you read The Iron Trial? What did you think of it?