Book Review: The Iron Trial
ashley | Okay, so obviously The Iron Trial caught my attention because Cassandra Clare is a co-author and I loved the Mortal Instruments. I’ve also been meaning to read something, anything, by Holly Black, so this seemed like a great opportunity to get a taste of Black and reunite with Clare.
And who doesn’t like a good book about magic? Lots of people, it seems. Apparently you can’t write a YA book about magic without endless Harry Potter comparisons. Like you can’t write a YA book about Vampires without Twilight comparisons. I get it, Harry Potter was awesome and of course there are similarities, but there was magic before Hogwarts, there will be magic after. I picked this up with an open mind and I tried really hard to keep it that way. Really hard.
I wanted to like Callum, he had all the workings of an angsty rebel and I wanted to like his I-don’t-care-about-magic attitude, but he very quickly started to annoy me. He fought the whole idea of magic, he tried to flunk the trials, he lived and breathed what his father said about magic, but he didn’t seem to actually do anything about it other than talk, seeming otherwise placid and his actions while at the school were just bratty – “I drink espresso” – as opposed to any real stance against the institution. He created trouble for no reason other than creating trouble and it wasn’t charming or cool, it was just childish and annoying.
My open mind is reminding me that this is a YA/children’s book, that I can’t expect too much, but I don’t think it’s out of line to expect something, and for the first part of the book, there was a whole lot of nothing. This was the time to let imagination fly; the magic tests, describing the school, accidental magical incidences etc, but it didn’t seem like very much creative thought went into setting up the scene and I wasn’t really impressed by the magical elements of this magical world. It didn’t seem very magic to me at all, other than a few levitating and fire-burning tricks.
Towards the end, things definitely pick up and more details of the school and of the big bad enemy are revealed, which in all honestly I did actually like, but at this point it felt too late. It was like this entire book was one long prologue to set everything up for the actual story, and now I have to wait for the sequel to read the actual story and I’m not sure I can even be bothered at this point.
All in all, I’m torn on what to rate this book. My issues with it have nothing to do with the magical similarities to Harry Potter, I don’t think that’s what is at fault here and there were enough separate elements to individualize them, I just think that if you plan to write a series and want people to continue reading, you have to give them one hell of a first book and this just didn’t do it for me. I would not dedicate my time to reading more about this.