Book Review: The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1)

“Fire wants to burn
Water wants to flow
Air wants to rise
Earth wants to bind
Chaos wants to devour
Cal wants to live”

Inhales deeply, takes a sip of coffee, flexes fingers.


So, if you’re like me, there’s a lot that would interest you about this book’s cover. And if the name “Cassandra Clare” screams positively at you, then you’re a lot like me. I can’t say much about Holly Black because I haven’t read any of her books. But I have read most of Cassie’s works.

As is the norm, the synopsis of the book reads:

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 . . .

A very short description if you ask me, and one that doesn’t do justice to the book. One of the things that really took me in was the opening scene of this book. It was so intriguing. I literally stopped for a minute to let it all sink in. That practically raised the already high bar. And then it began.

The Mages aren’t especially unlike Cassandra’s Shadowhunters. A lot of the ‘pre-defined necessities’ for this type of novel are there. But that’s not to say that the novel isn’t independent. It’s beautiful in it’s own way.

Personally though, I felt like the characters were lacking in depth. It just might be that I’ve come to expect deep dark plots and a complicated story lurking behind every eye. I just didn’t feel a deep connection with any of the characters. They all seemed somewhat vague, like not entirely clear, but not really distorted either. But the book did deliver on descriptions and vivid imagery.

A lot of the book reminded me of Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, with all the magic and of course having ‘mages’ highlighted those memories and I half expected Rufus to say that he was Callum’s father. But I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not that happened.

I read somewhere that a good book has three parts; the beginning, the middle, and the plot twist. And while I was screening words and double checking paragraphs, I still did not see this one coming. I mean, I half expected it, but not in that manner. There was also some beating around the bush that could be considered true, but alas was another tail wagged before the audience.

There was a lot I enjoyed about this book. The characters, the actual magic, the elementals, the story, and of course the plot twist. But probably for the same reason why this is a shorter review, there just wasn’t all that much to read. It felt shallow in most places, and would have definitely felt a lot more concrete in more places, had the stories been followed through.

Alas, this is a middle grade novel (like, literally intended for middle graders), and as much as I would like to carry on (ha!), it seems like the series doesn’t hold much promise for me. Or maybe I will read on because I have to know what happens in the next book. If you haven’t started it though, I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it to you. Maybe try the Shadowhunter series.

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1)Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews


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