Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Call’s father always warned him that magic school was bad news, and so when the time comes to take the Iron Trial entrance exams, he tries his hardest to fail. But despite his natural talent for mayhem, Call passes and is enrolled in the Magisterium against his wishes. Once he’s immersed in this magical world, Call learns he has a very powerful enemy – the same enemy who killed his mother and now threatens the people closest to him.

When you’re dealing with a book about a boy fighting an evil wizard and attending magic school, the Harry Potter comparisons are unavoidable – even more so when one of the authors, Cassandra Clare, wrote Harry Potter fanfiction before becoming a household name. And the thing is, this first book in the Magisterium series does feel a lot like Harry Potter with some Percy Jackson-style characters thrown in for good measure: think the Philosopher’s Stone with a darker, snarkier Harry. But once you get past that, you’ll find the similarities are not necessarily a bad thing. Memorable characters paired with a plot full of twists and turns make The Iron Trial the perfect book for readers 9 and up wanting a little more Hogwarts-like magic in their lives.

Holly Harper is a children’s bookseller at Readings Carlton. She also writes books for younger readers under the name H.J. Harper.