I got an eGalley of this book to review from NetGalley. This is the first book in the five book Magisterium series. The second book will be titled The Copper Gauntlet and is scheduled to release some time in 2015. I actually liked this book quite a bit, it is an action packed middle grade fantasy full of wonderful magic. It does however have many many parallels to the Harry Potter series.
Callum has always known his parents were mages. Callums dad however, hates and fears magic and is desperate to have Callum not be involved with any magic what-so-ever. When Callum hits twelve he is required to be tested for his magic ability and see if he is ready to enter the Magisterium. Callum and his dad hatch a scheme to ensure that Callum will fail all the magical testing and be free of the magical world forever. However despite his best efforts, Callum ends up admitted to the Magisterium and learning magic. He also finds out that learning magic is a lot more interesting and not nearly as deadly as his dad would have him believe.
I actually liked this book a lot. I loved the elemental magic and enjoyed the characters. I love the little elemental lizards and the Chaos ridden dog that Callum and his friends befriend. There is a lot in this book about being different and making friends. There are also a lot of fantastical scenes and creatures throughout which I absolutely loved. The way these scenes and creatures are described is wonderful and the scenes are easy to pictures and really come alive.
Callum is terrified of magic and originally a bit of an outcast. However, he is forced to work with two other students that are training with him and eventually they all end up working as a team. There is a lot of character growth here for all of the characters; I really enjoyed them all. There is a good mix of boy and girl characters too.
However, you can't help but draw a million parallels between this book and The Harry Potter series. I mean it's really, really similar in multiple aspects. You have the boy is should have died when he was a baby but didnt (Callum). You have his two quirky friends (a girl and a boy) that end up being his sidekicks of sorts. You have the wise old mage who trains them (exactly like Dumbledore). Oh, and then there is the Magisterium (its like an underground Hogwarts). Oh, and what about the Great Enemy who totally reminds me of Voldemort? The only thing really different is that the characters work with Elemental Magic.
The above being said, when I could quiet down my brain as is made constant comparisons to Harry Potter, I did enjoy it a lot. I think my son, who is just starting to read middle grade level books, will really really love it. Is this book as good as Harry Potter??...uh no not really. However it still is well written, fast-paced, entertaining and engaging. I really enjoyed reading it a lot and look forward to future books in the series.
Overall an excellent middle grade fantasy. Recommended to those who enjoy middle grade fantasy and can look past all the Harry Potter parallels. I enjoyed the magic, the fast-pace, and the characters. Honestly I haven't enjoyed a Holly Black book this much since the Spiderwick Chronicles.