The Shadowhunters: Eleven books as a trilogy, a pair of trilogies, and two story collections.
Author: Cassandra Clare
Nutshell: Demons exist. So do a secret race of demon-slayers. They are called the Nephilim, or Shadowhunters.
In the late 2000s, Clary Fray discovers them in New York city, and learns that she is one of them. Her mother not only raised her as a normal human but erased all her memories of the magical world. But now Clary has discovered her birthright, and just in time, as she is about to be a key player in a war between the Shadowhunters and their greatest shame: the twisted Valentine.
In the 1850s, Teresa Gray arrives in London, the city with all the best novels. She’s eager to meet her brother and start a new life after the deaths of their parents, but something’s not right. The women that pick Teresa up at the docks are, frankly, hideous and terrifying, and the place they take Teresa is more like a prison than a home. Then they torture her, forcing her to perform dark magic. But one night, the Shadowhunters raid the place, expecting a den of demons. Teresa is at least as suprised to find a rescuer breaking into her room as the rescuer, one Will Herondale, is to see her there. After a slight misunderstanding (in which Teresa proves quite able to defend her virtue from mysterious young men at midnight) Will manages to hold her off long enough to rescue her, and takes her back with him. This is fortunate, as Teresa has the first warning of one of the greatest threats the Shadowhunters have ever faced.
In the Bane Chronicles, Magnus Bane, reprobate warlock, makes his irreverent, immortal way through the centuries, loving deeply, living wildly, and learning, but not too much. Too much learning is for people who want to be serious. And depressing. Magnus Bane is never serious or depressing. If he starts to show signs of seriousness, he gets himself riotously drunk instead.
And in the Tales from the Shadowhunters Academy, Simon Lewis does some things because of spoilers from the previous books and then some other spoilers happen and then more spoilers.
Read-alikes: There are lots of “Turns out you’re actually a character in a fantasy novel” books like the Mortal Instruments. Try the Iron King, by Julie Kagawa, or the Tryll series by Amanda Hocking. For the Infernal Devices, I find The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross is satisfyingly similar. Any Buffy the Vampire Slayer literature is going to be like this also, though I haven’t read any myself.
I wish I had written these books.
I wish I could convey to you how very much I like them.
I’m the sort of person that reads with the stone face, alright? I almost never show emotions when reading a book, unless a passage tickles me enough that I read it to the people around me to see them smile too.
I read these with a smile on my face.
In fact, sometimes I giggle. Alone. In my room. And read parts over again aloud TO MYSELF. (Like a total dweeb.)
I’m seriously gaga over these books.
I thought about doing a blog post on each series, and then that seemed excessive, especially since I just read all of them in the same week.
Speaking of which: reading order is not much of a factor. You could read them by chronological order (Infernal Devices, Mortal Instruments 1-5, Bane Chronicles, Mortal Instruments 6, Shadowhunters Academy) or by publication order (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, Clockwork Angel, City of Fallen Angels, Clockwork Prince, City of Lost Souls, Clockwork Princess, The Bane Chronicles, City of Heavenly Fire, Tales from the Shadowhunters Academy). The only two that probably shouldn’t be read out of order are the story collections, which contain spoilers for the trilogies they follow.
I personally recommend you read The Mortal Instruments first, partly because the first couple books are not the finest of the series (still so good!) and it’s a bit of a comedown to go from the glorious end of the Infernal Devices to the beginning of the Mortal Instruments. So I say, Mortal Instruments, Bane Chronicles, Infernal Devices, and then Shadowhunters Academy. That last is full of spoilers for the other books, so please read it last.
So what do I like about these books? I like how the characters are all passionate, but in very different ways. I like the way Mrs. Clare writes tortured hearts. I like how much fun and hilarity all the passionate, tortured hearts can have. I like how even though there are PLENTY of romantic couples among all the books, there are also deeply passionate friendships.
Actually, I really like that. There’s a tendency in the world right now to label all loves as romantic loves, and such an emphasis on romance in novels. But in the law of the Shadowhunters, there’s a kind of official bond that can be made between friends whose hearts beat as one, and that adds such a richness to the relationships in the books.
What don’t I like? Well, coming off a weeklong binge, I’m tired of how much the characters have to battle prejudice as well as demons and evil. This is just part of the world, and I realize that if I had read these with space and other books with other themes, I wouldn’t be overwhelmed.
I also find it weird that in the story collections, there is a scene at the beginning of each story in graphic format. I am a person that reads and enjoys graphic novels, and I don’t feel like these teaser scenes add anything to the book. They’re just sort of odd.
I keep getting distracted from writing this blog by thinking of all the bits I like best about the books. Just go read them. Go. Stop reading this.