A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Copper Gauntlet is the second book in the Magisterium series by accomplished fantasy writers Holly Black (Doll Bones) and Cassandra Clare (City of Bones). Both often write for a teen audience, but this series about a magic school is aimed at tweens. Though the violence usually sticks to fights with magic, matter is sent into an abyss, a climactic moment involves a severed head, and another severed head is nailed to a door. Neither mutilation is depicted, but it’s clear that a teen has used a knife to sever the head of someone already deceased. The main character, Callum, spends the book searching for the good within himself and learns he can be honest with his friends. Good friends stay loyal even when they know your darkest secrets.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
It’s summer break, and Callum should be chilling out with his dad, Alistair, and his pet wolf before his magical education continues at the Magisterium. But Callum knows something is really wrong when he comes home from the movies and his wolf is gone. Late that night he tracks the wolf to a secret room. He's tied up next to a set of chains Call's size. And strewn across a desk nearby are magical spells to remove Call’s soul -- or rather, the soul of Constantine Madden, an evil magician whom Call and his father fear took over his body as a baby. If that's not enough to ruin summer break, what is? Call takes the wolf and runs for the bus station, then his friend Tamara's house, to finish out the summer. When Alistair tries to track him down at school to explain, Call won't hear him out -- especially when he figures out that his dad stole something from the Magisterium as part of his plan: a magical gauntlet that, if it gets in the wrong hands, could unleash an evil greater than what may be living in Callum. When Call discovers his father has gone missing and could be in danger, he confides in his friends. Together they realize they have to get to Alistair before the enemy does.
Is it any good?
Though this sequel suffers from a hasty, somewhat clunky setup, it makes up for it with a rousing second half and some intriguing, magically talented friends to share the adventure. Veteran YA fantasy authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare saddle the main character, Callum, with the knowledge that he's supposed to have the soul of some evil overlord. Think Harry Potter's connect to Voldemort, only Call knows about it -- and knows it could possibly control all of him. Yikes. It's strange that he’s still desperate to go back to school and possibly endanger everyone there. And that he doesn't seem remotely evil, even on a bad day. Just dishonest.
Though the idea of possession doesn't seem that believable, the interactions with the teen characters feel quite real. Adding Jasper, a rather conceited frenemy, to the mission, makes for some fun sparring. It lightens the mood at the right times, such as when hundreds of zombies show up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about secrets. When do you keep secrets, and when shouldn't you?
Will you keep reading this series? What do you like best about it?
- Authors: Holly Black, Cassandra Clare
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: September 1, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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