Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

May 17, 2015 Review 20 ★★★★

Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare, Holly Black
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: DoubleDay
Source: Won
Pages: 320
Release Date: 11th September 2014
Series: Magisterium #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Middle Grade
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 . . .
bec (2)

Really the only thing I want to say in this review is “OH MY GOD THAT PLOT TWIST” because really that about sums up my thoughts on THE IRON TRIAL. I have nothing else to add.
But I will try because such a review is inadequate. I might add gifs to make this longer and more entertaining than just the short review this would otherwise be. Actually you know what, let us turn this into

Bec’s Journey Reading THE IRON TRIAL

When I started THE IRON TRIAL I thought I knew what I was going in for. The writing is pretty typical of Middle Grade novels, simple and easy to comprehend. The characters seem pretty nice and cool and interesting, from all different types of backgrounds. The magic was cool and interesting, but there was nothing super special about that was grabbing me from the start.


The first half was pretty boring, and the magic lessons and trials were glossed over more than I would have liked. Around half way things started to get interesting, plot started developing and characters started to grow. Little things about the story started to surprise me because it wasn’t going entirely how I expected, but still it wasn’t hard to see where the story was going. I was pretty sure THE IRON TRIAL was going to end up being a typical 3 star read.


There’s no romance or anything in THE IRON TRIAL but some seeds for future plot lines are sown that will be interesting to see how the grow in the sequels as the characters grow older. There’s more magic, more intrigue, and mystery starting to develop. Then suddenly in the last third things got moving. And I mean moving.


More plot twists arrived and they were slightly bigger than the other ones. The pace picked up and the suspense was running high. Then we reached what I thought was the climax, where the biggest twist would be revolved. I didn’t feel that excited because I thought “it’s going to be this typical MG level twist”. And that’s where the story started to go…

Until it didn’t.


Everything I thought I had predicted was destroyed. All my theories about the characters and plot were wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. There was no way I could have predicted this twist. Or the character’s reactions to this story. Or the actions the characters would take after hearing this news. For the entirety of the last 3 or 5 chapters my jaw was on the floor

View Spoiler » andjkgbjsgdbdskgfj

THAT TWIST was all I could think about for days after finishing THE IRON TRIAL. It turned what I thought would be an average plot with good characters and world into something amazing. That twist is why this book got an entire 4 stars from me. I haven’t been that shocked by a book in a long time and my good this feeling is great. This series is going to be completely different to anything I have ever read and I am so, so excited to follow it because the character arcs are going to be phenomenal.


THE IRON TRIAL is far from the simple MG story I was expecting. At first the books kind or boring. The characters and plot appeared pretty average. Fortunately they do grow and become so very complex. Then the twists happens and everything I thought I knew was proved horribly wrong (in the best possible way). I was so shocked. This series has so much potential and, with authors like Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, I think it’s going to meet it. Especially if they can keep producing such magnificent and surprising plot twists.

Rating Report
Overall: 4

20 Responses to “Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black”

  1. Celeste

    Wow, how come I missed everyone talking about a huge plot twist? I didn’t even know there was one in this book. Need to check this book out from the library soon.

    • Bec

      I hope it was because they wanted everyone else to be as surprised by it as I was! I hope you get to read it and love it soon :)

    • Bec

      I was enjoying it enough that I would have read the next book anyway, but NOW I HAVE TO!

  2. Mallory @ The Leaning Tower of Tomes

    I dnf-ed The Iron Trial, though I didn’t even get halfway. I was bored, and I didn’t feel like pushing myself to see if got better. So many people really like this book that I’m sad I didn’t get past the initial slowness. And now I want to know what that plot twist is!!! I’m definitely going to try reading this again sometime.
    Mallory @ The Leaning Tower of Tomes recently posted…The Sunday Post — May 17th, 2015

    • Bec

      Depending on what you think of the twist, it can make pushing on worth it! I hope your second attempt is better than the first :)

    • Bec

      It took me by such surprise! If you completely hate the genre, it might be worth waiting until there’s a few more books out so you have an idea of how it develop. But if you can’t hold the curiosity I say go for it!

  3. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Huh. Well this certainly changes things for me. So far, the reviews I’ve read were mostly, well, underwhelming. I was set on skipping this one altogether. But man, that twist you speak of. I sort of need it. I LOVE when books manage to surprise you THIS HARD and like you, a book hasn’t done that to me in a long time. Thank you Bec, for making me reconsider this one :D I love how you ended up loving this!!
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Fandom Mashups #2

    • Bec

      Yeah there’s a lot of mixed thoughts on it. I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it. Until my friend told me about this twist then I HAD TO KNOW.

      I hope if you read it you end up loving it too!

    • Bec

      I don’t get the resemblence to HP. I mean, other than the magic school and MG. The magic system, plot, and all the important things are completely different!

  4. Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

    Aww nice to see you liked this :D Sadly – very, very sadly – even though CC is my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E author, this book did not appeal to me. It is true that MG reads are not my to-go ones, but I thought this would be different. It wasn’t. Also, it reminded me too much of HP. You’ve probably heard that a lot, though. Anyway, great honest review!! :)
    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books recently posted…Review: Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel

    • Bec

      Trust me when I say the only resemblance this has to Harry Potter is the concept of a magic school and there are three main characters. Everything else is completely different as far as I can tell.

      Thanks :)

  5. Olivia

    I am so glad that this one improved from the second half! I mean, I was going to read it anyway because lookie CASSANDRA CLARE but well, it being a good book is always a bonus ^^ I have also been meaning to try a book by Holly Black for a while now. I think that this one will be good with the great plot twists you have been mentioning – but I am skeptical because a lot of readers have been comparing this one to Harry Potter and saying it is too similar?
    Olivia recently posted…Top 10: Reasons Why I Write!

    • Bec

      haha yeah, it’s always nice to hear when your favourite author’s new book isn’t a disappointment. I’ve read one other Holly Black book before this and really enjoyed it so I need to check more of her stuff out too, especially since SHE’S COMING TO AUS WITH CASSANDRA IN SEPTEMBER AAAHHH

      I haven’t read Harry Potter, but honestly I don’t see many similarities outside the magic school concept and three kids as main characters. The type of magic and setting, and the entire premise of the story when you get to the twist, is completely different as far as I can tell.

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