M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Can Two Master Writers #Write Better Than One?

The Iron Trial (Magisterium Series #1)The family library delivered two YA/MG books the other day: a vampire dystopian novel and a magical school novel. Both cliche themes to my mind. I almost put them both on the furthest, dustiest to-read pile. But there was a little yellow sticky note on the middle grade one: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

Two master, best-selling fantasy authors teaming up? I just had to take a peek. Read the usually deadly prologue. Then thought: Maybe I should read the first chapter to see if the promise held. Then, dinner called. Not that it was ready. I had to cook it.

Now most books for kids involve the discovering of self as either the main plot or subplot. The Iron Trial is no different, but it's not just another Tom Brown's School Days or Harry Potter regurgitated. Black & Clare manage to make the situation their own with a protagonist who is content to play second fiddle. Callum Hunt wants to fail at becoming a magic-worker because all his life his father has warned him that magic is dangerous and can destroy you.

Of course, he failed the tests for magic in the opening of the book. But he fails the tests in such amusing ways that you just have to keep reading. For example, all the other kids being tested levitate their papers until the room floats with sheets of paper. Callum concentrates so hard on keeping his sheet of paper on his desk that he embeds it into the wood. Something the headmaster of the Magisterium notices.

Of course, bad boy Callum breaks the school's rules, but Black & Clare give him more depth and complexity as he negotiates the path from outcast to friendship and team member. In spite of the standardized theme, all the events contribute to a fast-moving, twisting plot with a strong one-more-chapter pull. The characters are well motivated too.

The Magisterium is projected to be a five book series centered on a fight against evil. I look forward to the other books in the series because I think that the core theme of the books lies on the choices you make as an individual that count, not your supposed destiny. Only one problem I can see. The pace of the series release. One a year, I think. Did you guess I was giving it 5*****


My paper revisions for The Ghostcrow continue. My critique group generally likes it, but as usual, has put a magnifying glass on the story's weak spots. They want more magic and supernatural stuff. I like my form of magical realism where the magic is firmly planted within the happenings of a mundane world. Now, doesn't that sound like a cliche?

I'm putting snippets from the novelette up on my author website. Why not take a look and see.

Other than that. I've been mostly cleaning up messes. Come to think of it, revising a draft is just another way of cleaning up a mess. Don't you think?


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