The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (2014)

iron trialThis dark story about three kids in a magic school will appeal to those looking for Harry Potter readalikes.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages:  295 (for ISBN 978054552225)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, adventure

Tone/Style: dark, mysterious, magical

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: dark magic, magic schools

Themes: destiny, evil, friendship

Summary: 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 — 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…

From the remarkable imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping, mind-blowing, pulse-pounding plunge into the magical unknown. (Source)

Who will like this book?: Harry Potter fans. Anyone who likes their magic dark and creepy.

Who won’t like this book?: Readers looking for something new and different, or for humor and lighthearted stories.

Other comments: This book really is about as close as you can get to Harry Potter before people start crying foul. It’s obviously a response to that series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing from a librarian’s point of view, since there are so many readers looking for readalikes.

Sequel(s): The Magisterium series: 2. The Copper Gauntlet (2015), 3. The Bronze Key (2016), 4. The Silver Mask (2017), 5. The Golden Tower (2018)

Readalikes: Harry Potter and whatever else you generally rcommend to readers who like Harry Potter.

-Kylie Peters

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