***NOTE: This review is for the second and third books in a series and may contain spoilers for the first book. To read my thoughts on The Iron Trial (the first book), click HERE.***
I had to catch up on this series when I saw that the latest was coming out (the third out of five listed on Goodreads). Both my son and I really enjoyed the first book. He said that it had all of the best qualities from his favorite series, which was high praise from him. I was a little nervous since it had been a long time since I’d read book one (we’d picked up book two at a Scholastic book fair, but we hadn’t gotten to it yet), but I picked the story back up really easily—there were plenty of reminders, which is especially nice for a middle grade book. Read on for my thoughts …
Callum Hunt’s summer break isn’t like other kids’. His closest companion is a Chaos-ridden wolf, Havoc. His father suspects him of being secretly evil. And, of course, most kids aren’t heading back to the magical world of the Magisterium in the fall.
It’s not easy for Call . . . and it gets even harder after he checks out his basement and discovers that his dad might be trying to destroy both him and Havoc.
Call escapes to the Magisterium — but things only intensify there. The Alkahest — a copper gauntlet capable of separating certain magicians from their magic — has been stolen. And in their search to discover the culprit, Call and his friends Aaron and Tamara awaken the attention of some very dangerous foes — and get closer to an even more dangerous truth.
As the mysteries of the Magisterium deepen and widen, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take readers on an extraordinary journey through one boy’s conflict — and a whole world’s fate.
This book was a super quick read because the action pretty much never let up—a definite positive for a middle grade book. I felt like this book gave us plenty of reminders of what happened in book one without bogging us down with details, which was very helpful. My favorite aspect of this second book is the fact that Call spends a good portion of the book questioning himself—wondering if each and every choice he makes is leading him toward redemption or toward evil overlord territory. Call is hiding his secret from his friends because he’s pretty sure that anyone who knows would think of him as evil incarnate. In fact, he worries that his own father might secretly think just that—and as the book goes on, his doubts about his father’s feelings and intentions just get stronger.
Just like the first book, there were some parallels to Harry Potter, which could be seen as a negative—I almost felt like Tamara was a bit more Hermione-ish in this book, which I wasn’t a fan of. At one point she “betrays” Call, but I actually kind of liked her for taking a stand—I understand that we value a friend who doesn’t share our secrets, but there are times when hiding a secret is much more harmful than pulling in someone who can help, even if it makes a friend mad. I actually wish that message had been emphasised a little more.
One other thing that gave me pause is that the bulk of the book seemed to take place over a very short period of time, but it was supposed to basically cover a whole school year. When I got to the next book, I was really surprised when we jumped into the next school year! I give this book 4/5 stars.
Magic can save you.
Magic can kill you.
Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.
But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process.
As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time.
In this striking third book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare present us with a school where anything, good or evil, can happen, and the only way to unlock the truth is to risk everything to find it.
I feel like this third book is really where the story kicks into high gear. The stakes are a lot higher since the book starts right out with a character dying. It becomes apparent that there’s a spy at the Magisterium and (of course) our trio takes it upon themselves to solve the mystery before Call himself ends up dead. I don’t know how much I can really reveal about what I liked about this book without spoiling things. There are some MAJOR game-changers here: cataclysmic events that will shape future books in the series. One of the twists I guessed ahead of time, but there were some big reveals and occurrences that took me completely by surprise. I’ll be very interested to see where this story goes next! I give this installment 4.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Authors:
Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare) and The Darkest Part of the Forest. She has been a a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award and a Newbery Honor. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door.
Cassandra Clare was born to American parents in Teheran, Iran and spent much of her childhood travelling the world with her family, including one trek through the Himalayas as a toddler where she spent a month living in her father’s backpack. She lived in France, England and Switzerland before she was ten years old.
Since her family moved around so much she found familiarity in books and went everywhere with a book under her arm. She spent her high school years in Los Angeles where she used to write stories to amuse her classmates, including an epic novel called “The Beautiful Cassandra” based on a Jane Austen short story of the same name (and which later inspired her current pen name).
After college, Cassie lived in Los Angeles and New York where she worked at various entertainment magazines and even some rather suspect tabloids where she reported on Brad and Angelina’s world travels and Britney Spears’ wardrobe malfunctions. She started working on her YA novel, City of Bones, in 2004, inspired by the urban landscape of Manhattan, her favourite city. She turned to writing fantasy fiction full time in 2006 and hopes never to have to write about Paris Hilton again.
Cassie’s first professional writing sale was a short story called “The Girl’s Guide to Defeating the Dark Lord” in a Baen anthology of humor fantasy. Cassie hates working at home alone because she always gets distracted by reality TV shows and the antics of her two cats, so she usually sets out to write in local coffee shops and restaurants. She likes to work in the company of her friends, who see that she sticks to her deadlines.
City of Bones was her first novel.