Thursday, 4 December 2014

Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black book cover

Title: The Iron Trial
Authors: Cassandra Clare
and Holly Black
Series: Magisterium, #1
Format: eARC, via Netgalley
from the publishers. (Thank you!)
My rating: 1.5 / 5

Add to Goodreads

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 . . .

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

I guess I’m the perfect person to read this book. When I read The Iron Trial, I had only read one Harry Potter book. Odds are I won’t see any similarities, right?

Erm… well… wrong.

There are hundreds of thousands of people way more knowledgeable about the Harry Potter world than I am, and they’d be able to draw up a minute list of the similarities. But even I with my fledgling Harry Potterite status can draw too many parallels between the two books. The Iron Trial left me feeling very uncomfortable, and I guess that’s my main problem with it. Similar ideas are one thing, but when the actual vibe of a book has the same familiarity, I get very antsy and I can’t let go and be swept away with the story.

The writing style was very stop-and-start, fast-and-slow. Things would be zipping along nicely, I’d be starting to enjoy the book when all of a sudden the writing style would shift, and it became slow, boring and annoying. In these moments, the dialogue felt very disjointed and inconsistent – honestly, these characters are twelve years old, and at times it felt like they’d eaten Thesaurus Flakes for breakfast, and it kind of felt far too formal and pretentious for my tastes. To make it weirder, a couple of chapters later they’d seem like regular twelve year olds again!

Unfortunately, I didn’t like the characters either. I don’t feel like I got to know any of them properly. We have Callum as the main character, with Tamara and Aaron as his friends. It felt like each character name was assigned a place holder as “MC” and “Friend 1” and “Friend 2”, but they didn’t feel ‘real’ to me – they didn’t have that depth of character I love seeing. I didn’t feel any connection, and I’m not invested in what happens to them.

I think I got off on the wrong foot with The Iron Trial, and while there were a few really good moments – the ending was really good, even though I could kind of see where the book was going – the writing style, pacing and not connecting with the characters ended up preventing me from really liking and connecting with the book. Would I recommend it? I think it’ll depend on what you’re looking for. If you're curious about the book, definitely give it a shot!


  1. I've been hesitant to read this one ever since I heard about the similarities. People either loved it or hated it. Sorry to hear you didn't love it either. I don't think I'll be reading it any time soon or even at all.

    1. It really does seem to be a hit or miss book :( I was hoping I'd be on the love side, but it wasn't meant to be!

  2. I've seen this book around but haven't stopped to read the description. I haven't really enjoyed Cassandra Clare's books so I never really considered reading this one. It's crazy that people write books that are such blatant rip offs like no one will notice! I'm sorry you didn't love it.

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    1. I'm a bit hit or miss with Cassandra Clare's writing, and I thought the addition of Holly Black (who I haven't read before) would have toned it down a little. With the similarities, I was surprised just how many little things I picked up on. I wasn't expecting it, and it set up my expectations on the wrong foot :/ Oh well, onto the next one!

  3. Uh oh I'm sorry you didn't like it. I've seen this book everywhere but I just haven't picked it up because I feel like it would just be eh to me, which I see happened to you. But yeah, I hope your next read is better!

    1. Thanks Val! I was afraid of the similarities being very obvious, and unfortunately they were too often for my liking (and comfort levels!) Oh well, can't love them all :)

  4. I'm so sorry to hear that this was a bust for you Alma. Being able to like and connect with the characters is important to me. Normally if I don't like the protagonist then I don't like the book. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Yep, it's the same for me - the characters are SO important, and like you, I can't love a book if I don't build up a bond with the characters. Thanks for stopping by, Monique!

  5. Even the cover screams Harry Potter! If you are going to rip off a story probably best not to use the most well known one in the world! I am surprised that two such well known authors have gone down this route though but you are not the first person I've heard saying this.
    Plus not connecting with characters is a huge no no for me. I will be skipping this one :(

    1. Yes! I was giving it the benefit of doubt at the beginning, thinking it couldn't be THAT similar. I mean, I could probably forgive some familiar things, but it's just the sheer amount and the frequency that raised my suspicions... and made me feel a bit icky reading the book in honesty :( Thanks for stopping by, Trish!

  6. I tried not to compare it to Harry Potter at all, I mean, we can't compare every book that has a magic school to Harry Potter, right?! Erm...well. I can, lol. I just try not to. >_< I totally 100% agree on the style though. It felt like YA! It did NOT feel like what MG readers would go for. *sigh* I found it slow and boring most of the time but I loveloveloved the ending.
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. Hahahaha, no matter how hard we try, it's very hard NOT to compare a magic school to HP! And YES, it definitely reads like a YA, which completely confuses me. I have NO IDEA why it's marketed at MG! I really did enjoy the ending too... but, for me it was a bit too late to change my mind. Oh well, can't love them all, unfortunately :( Thanks for stopping by, Cait!



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