If your kids loved Harry Potter, they’ll enjoy The Iron Trial, by heavy-hitting YA authors Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. If those names sound familiar, they should—Clare wrote the best-selling Mortal Instruments series for young adults and Black is co-creator of the popular Spiderwick Chronicles.
The Iron Trial is the first book in a planned five-book series, set in a magical world.
There are obvious parallels to the Potter series. It’s set in a school for magicians called (*cough* Hogwarts! *cough*)—sorry, something in my throat—Magisterium. It features a likable main character and his two best friends (a girl and a boy) who get up to all sorts of misadventures. And there’s a bad guy who threatens all life as we know it.
Since this website is about “Getting Kids Reading,” we view that parallel as a good thing. After all, if your kids liked Harry Potter and it got them reading, why fix what ain’t broke? They’ll probably like this book—and they’ll read. And that’s the point.
Young Callum Hunt (known as Call) has been told all his life that he should avoid magic school at all costs—it’s a dangerous place and you’ll probably die there. He attempts to flub the entrance exams but he’s forced to go anyway, much to his father’s chagrin. He meets and befriends two other “mage apprentices” and during his first year at the school gets into all kinds of trouble as he tries to bend the school’s rules fairly harmlessly. But there’s a good and sinister reason these kids are being trained. There’s a big baddie: the Enemy of Death (*cough* Voldemort! *cough*)—that darned throat of mine again—who is a threat to everyone at Magisterium.
Above it all it’s a coming-of-age story with a character who will come to learn who he is, how to relate to his peers, and how he can use his special gifts.
There are a lot of characters and back-stories to keep track of, but young readers never seem to have a problem with that, so it shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, it will probably make them enjoy the book even more.
It’s a quick read because it’s well-written and it has a fast-paced plot. So if you do have a Harry Potter fan, The Iron Trial is likely a good bet to get—and keep—your kid reading.
The Iron Trial is available September 2014; it’s about 300 pages long. Here’s some more information about the series from co-author Cassandra Clare. And here she has some excellent and quite detailed advice about writing.
Oh, and speaking of… if you do have a Harry Potter fan, have they read the new 1,500-word short story J. K. Rowling recently put on the Potter site, Pottermore? In order to get to it, your child will have to register on the website www.pottermore.com and sign in, and then go to ‘The Campsite’ Moment in Chapter 7 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Yeah, don’t ask me—your kid will know what to do.