I'll just state it up front. I have a huge weakness for YA books set in strange schools. I have a tendency to insta-like books that take place at one, and this case was no exception.
Fletcher, a young orphan and apprentice to a blacksmith in the North, gets in possession of a scroll that leads to him having his own demon. Which is something desirable in this world as there's a summoners-demons bond that will allow them to do magic. He's sent off to magical battle school to learn as fast as possible how to use these powers on the front.
I immediately liked the story. Even though it isn't really something original or something I hadn't seen before, I enjoyed the first half a lot and just wanted to keep reading even though life was calling. There was certainly quite a lot of Harry Potter vibes and it also reminded me of the Hiccup and Toothless combination from How To Train Your Dragon. The only thing I didn't like was the children attending the school, there was a clear line between the noble kids, arrogant brats and possibly evil, versus the normal ones, who were good and possibly pooping rainbows. Another thing that bothered me, although it didn't cause me to like it any less, was that the teachers seemed to be far too nice to Fletcher. I mean it's not Hogwarts he's attending but a military training school under stress of not having enough students to fill the holes at the front. I doubt they would be holding your hand through training.
The second half I liked a little bit less. Mostly because I thought the clichés were accumulating and then there was this big tournament at the end of the year, but also because there was this one decree that I thought was utterly stupid and just there to make Fletcher's life more of that of a tortured and hunted hero.
All in all, I really enjoyed myself with this first book and I'm looking forward to the next already.
The Novice is the first book in the Summoner series. The second book is said to be published in 2016.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.