Rating: 4 Stars.
Callum Hunt has been told by his father that he has to fail the Iron Trial, an entrance exam into a magic school, in order to keep him safe from the Magisterium. Despite Callum’s efforts, he finds himself being the apprentice of one of the most sought after Mages, with two of the most gifted students in the magic school of the Magisterium. He learns soon that there is a lot he doesn’t know about the world, or about himself.
I’ve done a lot of discovering of Holly Black’s writing lately, and this one didn’t disappoint. I’ve always enjoyed Cassandra Clare’s flowing writing style. When you think “magic school” you automatically start comparing to Harry Potter, but I found that there were enough differences here that I didn’t find myself constantly comparing the two while reading it, despite the hook. It’s so hard to write any kind of “magic school” without having some resemblance.
I enjoyed the mystery, the growing friendships, the mentor figures, and the developing world. Some of the setting descriptions really painted a beautiful picture of the world that these authors have created. I’m looking forward to more of that in future books.
I did want more world building, and I’m hoping that in reading the next books, the magical world will be drawn out clearer, and there will be more explanation on the principles that the magic this world is based on.
Recommendations: If you like magic themed books, and magic schools interest you, give it a go. But if you’re finding that you’re comparing this book to Harry Potter at every turn, you’ll miss out on enjoying it for what it is, a nice fun read.