Synopsis: Twelve year old Callum Hunt has always been told by his father to stay away from magic because it’s dangerous. His mother was killed, and Callum’s leg was permanently damaged because of a war between mages. So now that it’s time for him to face the Iron Trial to see if he’s worthy to be accepted into the Magesterium, Callum does his best to fail. Unfortunately that backfires and he finds himself in a strange school where over the course of five years he and the other students will be trained in the magical use of the four elements; earth, fire, air, water. But there’s much more going on than Call ever could have imagined. “The Enemy” with whom a fragile truce has existed since Call was an infant is on the move and recruiting. Worse, Call is about to find out why his father was so determined to keep him away from magic.
As soon as I got home I immediately dived in. I mean a middle school book by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare! What could possibly go wrong? So I began reading about the beginning adventures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione at Hogwarts… Ahem. I mean Callum, Aaron, and Tamara at The Magesterium. The three are selected by the wisest wizard, er, Mage of them all, Dumbledore! Oops, I meant to say Master Rufus. Okay. I’m going to stop being snarky now. Obviously I feel this was just too much like Harry Potter. But honestly. Almost every character is a copy. Draco clone? Check. Snape clone? Check. Voldemort clone? Check. This is me halfway through the book:
As much as I’m a devoted Harry Potter fan I have no issue with books that are similar. J.K. Rowling did not corner the market on magical schools, wizards, evil villains, etc… One of my favorite children’s series after Harry is Jenny Nimmo’s Children of the Red King which over six or seven books follows young Charlie at a magic school. While there are similarities, there are also plenty of differences that make these books unique. The problem I had in this first book of what’s supposed to be a five book series is that the similarities were so numerous that it became distracting. Especially the villain, “The Enemy” which is really short for “The Enemy of Death” because he’s obsessed with defeating, wait for it, death! Seriously? These two authors couldn’t come up with something a little different? To be fair, although Tamara could be Hermione’s twin sister in spirit if not in looks, neither Call nor Aaron are complete carbon copies of Harry and Ron. And that is an example of why I gave this 3 stars and not 2. There are a few differences and twists with the characters and the plot that have instilled a small flutter of hope that perhaps starting with the next book, they will further be fleshed out. I also wonder if as I was reading it, was I looking at it too much as an adult. That maybe an eleven year old wouldn’t mind. Also, if the reader was someone who hasn’t read Harry, I think they may definitely like it. Arrgghh! This is so frustrating! So, will I try the second book? Probably. The question is will it be because of that small flutter of hope I mentioned, or because I’m a masochist? Your guess is as good as mine.
This is me having finished The Iron Trial: