The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Genre: Fiction, middle grade, fantasy, magic school, forget what you know about middle grade fantasy magic school fiction
Rating: Heck, 5 out of 5 stars. I loved it!
Summary: Fire wants to burn
Water wants to flow
Air wants to rise
Earth wants to bind
Chaos wants to devour
Call wants to live…
His whole life, 12-year-old Callum Hunt has been taught one thing by his father: magic is bad. The Magisterium isn’t a fun and whimsical magic school, it’s a dark, terrible place deep underground where young mages are experimented upon by cruel Masters who only care about advancing their own goals. Even knowing nothing about the magical battle that left his mother dead and himself permanently disabled, Call knows his only chance to survive is to fail the test that will earn him a (mandatory) spot at the Magisterium.
You can guess how well that goes for him.
As an Iron Year mage at the Magisterium, Call finds that the place isn’t all that bad, he’s not actually terrible at magic, and he has friends for the first time in his life. So maybe it would be okay to stick around, except for the growing evidence that who, or what, Call is might be more dangerous than he ever imagined.
The first thing you should know about The Iron Trial is that it is not, in fact, Harry Potter.
It is about a young boy with a somewhat tragic back story who goes to magic school, and while there he makes two friends who become his best friends, and over everything hangs the threat of a bad guy who has started wars in the past but has been quiet for a while.
To get this out of the way – Yes, okay? All of these things, and a few other nods not listed above, are very much like Harry Potter. This serves a purpose. The story line to The Iron Trial is just enough like Harry Potter to subvert it in the most intriguing way possible.