THE COPPER GAUNTLET
by HOLLY BLACK and CASSANDRA CLARE
Age: Middle Grade
Content issues: Not much. Mild violence. Dismembered body part. Nothing too strong.
Similar to: Percy Jackson and Balance Keepers
He was starting to worry that there weren’t any good guys. Just people with longer or shorter Evil Overlord lists.
Review by Bronto Incognito
So first of all can I just say if you haven’t done this yet, you need to go find these books in hard cover at your local bookstore and just feel the covers. Seriously. They’re so textured and cool and if you’re any kind of book nerd you can’t help but run your hands over the cover! I love them!
Now onto the actual review…
Even the great Rick Riordan admitted that a good review of this book is hard to do without revealing spoilers from the first book.
So since this is the second book in the series I’ll start with a brief rundown and then give you a spoiler warning so you have a chance to bail before anything gets ruined for you.
Book one starts with a kid going to magic school. But this is not a HP remake. Rather than the chosen child Callum Hunt was injured as a baby in a magical massacre that claimed the life of his mother. A magical massacre in which his dying mother left a message:
Kill the child.
And he’s not the super special magical hero the mages have been waiting for. His best friend Aaron is.
Now we start in book 2 and Callum is home with his dad, who is not thrilled about him going back to the Magisterium or his chaos-ridden wolf pet, Havoc. And after his dad goes to some rather extreme measures to make his wishes known, Call feels he has to run away in order to make it back to school.
But once at school things with his home life only seem to get more complicated. And this secret he’s carrying around from book 1 is about to drive him crazy. Anyone could find out at any time and then he’d be screwed.
This story keeps getting more interesting the further you go into it. It plays on your expectations from HP and every other “chosen one” story you’ve ever read and uses them to distract you from the real plot that’s about to twist you around and send you in a new direction.
Not to mention it’s hilarious.
It has a diverse cast, not just in race but in personal background and the kids may have to face adult situations, but they still have to deal with being kids and being subjects to the rules the adults set for them, whether or not the adults’ intentions are good.
This book deals with wealth and power and how you handle it when those things fall into your lap. It addresses making decisions your parents don’t like, from who you date to where you go to school, and how you deal with it when your parents try to take action. There’s a mild amount of violence in these books, but really nothing more than you’d get with a Percy Jackson story, probably less than that for most of it.
And now, here’s your spoiler alert!
So the thing that Call’s dad does that makes him want to run? Tries to kill Havoc and use his heart to get rid of Cal and bring the real Callum Hunt back.
Oh yeah, did we mention that Call’s not really Call, but the rebodied spirit of the dead evil guy that killed everyone? Well now he’s got everyone around him trying to figure out why he’s been acting so weird and poor Call feels trapped in a secret he never wanted to be a part of. But he went through with the Iron Trials last year. He made the choice to get his magic. Can’t help but feel like it’s only a matter of time before something clicks and this kid becomes evil.
Which sucks for him, but would be interesting as heck to read!
And how he deals with it is hilarious. He’s got an Evil Overlord Checklist going in his head to verify that he’s at least mostly doing things that an Evil Overlord woudl never do. But every now and then he does something anyway, even though he knows it’s a check mark on the side of evil. And his secret is giving him some mesed up views on life:
Call looked at Havoc bounding along the ridge. “Just don’t show her who you really are,” he said. “Pretend you’re a person she might love, and then she’ll love you. Because people just love who they think other people are, anyway.”
And I love the giant metal-eating monster that chases after them, eating cars and growing bigger. It was super cool.
I really can’t gush enough about these two authors finally doing a real team up to write an awesome story together. If you are giving this to a middle-schooler or even a high-schooler, be aware that not all of Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s books might be appropriate for your particular teen or tween. This series was geared to middle grade, so keep that in mind before you pick up either author’s entire collection to hand to your 11 yr old 🙂
Good luck and good reading!