Monday, September 8, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare


The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare is being released TOMORROW!! 
Recently Cassandra Clare shared a piece of art Magisterium art on her Tumblr page. Check it out below:

Here's what she said about it;

My favorite piece of Magisterium art, by Scott Fischer. Call stands before the Iron Gate. At the end of each year at the Magisterium, students must pass through a gate to prove their mastery of the elements. Call knows he shouldn’t cross this gate — but he wants to.

There's still time left to pre-order your SIGNED copy of The Iron Trial from Books of Wonder! When you do, you'll be entered to win a signed copy of The Bane Chronicles. Get all the details here

Holly Black & Cassie answered a question about the comparrisonte of Harry Potter and their new series:

Hi! I’m reading The Iron Trial right now and I’m loving it so much I just wish to come back to my childhood and waiting for my convocation to the trials. But I’m 18, so, you know, eheh…! Anyway, I have a question that is bothering me since I started reading the book. There are many things really similar to Harry Potter (if not always in details, at least in appearance), and I think this is not the first for you to hear that. So, what’s your reply to this opinion? IThank you for reading this, I love your books! :D — misunderstoodlaugh 
Hi! Cassie sent this over for me to answer, because she’s running off to a pool party.
I think that as you read The Iron Trial you will indeed find some similarities to Harry Potter (and other magic school books), in part because this is a book that takes place in a magic school with three important characters, and in part because there are a few deliberate echoes of Harry Potter in the text. By the time you get to the end, I think you’ll realize why those echoes are in place and, going forward, how the story will inevitably and obviously take a very, very different path from Harry Potter.
So glad you’re liking the book so far. Looking forward to your reaction to the end. 
Magic school/academy/camp/university books have existed, for well, just about forever in the fantasy genre. Here’s a very incomplete list of 54 of them. Harry Potter is by far the most famous — Percy Jackson probably second at the moment. Magic school books are really a genre of their own, and all the  books/movies/tv shows within them have similarities. Those similarities are what creates “a genre.” (The dystopian genre describes a fantasy or science fiction setting where the government/society is bad and/or corrupt. If they were not bad or corrupt, it would change the genre of the book, which would no longer be a dystopia.)
One of the things that’s fun about writing in a genre that people are really familiar with, like magic school books, is that you can take the tropes they know so well because they’ve existed for a hundred years (kid goes to magic school, discovers he’s the best at everything/is actually a hero/has a destiny/has an enemy/ has sidekicks) and overturn or reverse them completely. However, you can’t overturn a trope without first engaging with that trope. (For example: You can’t overturn people’s expectations in a story that the prince will rescue the princess by having the princess rescue the prince without 1) having a prince and princess and 2) having one of them need rescuing.)
We wanted to overturn the tropes of magic school books and Chosen Hero narratives (click to the “literature” part of the page to find Harry Potter and many dozen other books). To do that we had to create a magic school and the potential idea of a Chosen Hero. There’s no way around that. I’d be really surprised if you got to the end of the book and still thought it was going anywhere that Harry Potter ever went. But unfortunately saying anything else would spoil the twist. 
(And yes, of course, we’ve seen comparisons to Harry Potter! Holly saw the same comparisons with her Spiderwick books — I’ve seen them with Shadowhunters. The Harry Potter books are arguably the most read books in the world. Anything and everything gets compared to them. Our publisher is the same publisher who published Harry Potter, and many of our team there worked on the HP books. It’s been great, actually, working with people so familiar with the tropes of magic school books and so excited about seeing us turn them on their heads. :)


  1. What a great, creepy cover. It should hook the most reluctant reader. Thanks for featuring.

  2. Great post! I can't wait to read the Iron Trials!

  3. Great post. I really enjoyed reading The Iron Trial, I see lots of different directions that the story could go and especially liked the twist. You also bring up a very good point, "you can’t overturn a trope without first engaging with that trope." Congratulations on its release.


I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~