Isinglass Teen Read 2015-16 Nominee: The Iron Trial, Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
I recently came across The Iron Trial (2014) by YA powerhouses Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. Sometimes, the teaming of two incredibly successful authors can backfire, but not in this case.
First in a series, The Iron Trial is a delightful fantasy for Harry Potter fans looking for a “read-alike.” The magical school for gifted children is called the Magisterium, located in underground caverns in Virginia. The students are “mages” not wizards or witches, and enrollment is based on invitation only followed by an intense audition. Our main character – Callum Hunt, a small, skinny 12 year old – is permanently lame from an injury that occurred mysteriously when Callum was an infant – is gifted. However, he’s been raised to avoid the Magisterium because Cal’s father believes the mages there are responsible for his mother’s death during the war. Despite Cal’s disastrous interview, he is chosen and placed with two other students to train under Master Rufus.
The magic focuses on elements – earth, air, water, fire and chaos – so it’s a very different kind of magic than what we’ve read about in Harry Potter.
I admit, as a HP fan, it’s comforting to read a book that shares the familiar and yet different magical boarding school qualities, but Iron Trial is just plain old good storytelling. It was difficult to tear myself away from reading this one and get back to real life.