Review: ‘Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy’ by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman

Blurb from GoodReads: 

Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.

So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.

But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten short stories give an epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide glimpses of what’s in store in the Dark Artifices.

Review:

Ok, so there are parts of this book I looooved- anything with James Herondale, Tessa Gray, and my favourite motley crew of warlocks, Catarina Loss, Ragnor Fell and the one and only MAGNUS-BADASS-BANE (who, coincidentally, was October’s Literary Hero of the Month.) However, the fact that it was narrated mainly by Simon grated on me after a while, as sometimes I find him annoying, and quite frankly (SPOILER) I think the way he treated Isabelle in the beginning was selfish- often with Simon’s character I feel it’s all about ‘him’, i.e. so YES he has lost his memories, and YES that’s awful, but does that mean you have to be an unfeeling, insensitive jerk to the girl who clearly loves you? Izzy has feelings too! Some of the phrases he used too- e.g. ‘warrior princess’- kind of struck me as dumb too, and I feel as though some of the imagery could have been more sophisticated. (Tavvy Blackthorn, for instance, clings onto his eldest brother/father figure, Julian, ‘like an octopus.’ Hmmm.. this to me felt a little cliched?) That may sound mean, but this is a 600-plus page book made up entirely of short stories, and in a short story you ideally want every phrase to count, to be meaningful, to not feel  repetitive. And I have to admit I found Simon’s descriptions of the decrepit slimy Shadowhunter Academy repetitive to say the least. There were also a lot of video game references that I didn’t quite get (although that’s probably my fault.) I felt that ‘The Whitechapel Fiend’ was the weakest story- (SPOILER) to me- Jack the Ripper just WASN’T a demon child, the murders were too misogynistic in nature, and I felt that this theory was rushed and that the ‘child’ itself was badly characterized. (There one minute, vanquished the next.) (SPOILER) Nice to see Jessamine with her ever-so-slightly-creepy doll’s house though, I like her ghost character.

Having said that, the added insight into Magnus and Alec’s relationship was wonderful (finally, we get a Malec sex scene! Woo! Yeah! About time!) and ‘Born to Endless Night’ was possibly my favourite story, with some truly touching, emotive moments between #Malec and perhaps (SPOILER) the pitter patter of tiny feet. I also loved new characters such as George Lovelace, (yes, like Jessamine Lovelace, but Scottish and not as annoying) ANY REFERENCE AT ALL to the achingly cool Anna Lightwood (who will appear properly in the upcoming ‘Last Hours’ series, Shadowhunter-in-training Marisol, and any reference to the Fae (of which there were lots, although to be honest Mark‘s endless waffling bored me.) I also absolutely adored Helen Blackthorn‘s character–brave, victimized, beautiful, half-Faerie, half-Shadowhunter,- but I would have liked to have seen more of her relationship with Aline. All in all, I think this would have been better as a novel written solely by Cassandra Clare, who remains one of my favourite authors. I didn’t feel it was cohesive as ‘The Bane Chronicles’, which is AMAZING, but I still did enjoy many parts, and some parts were hilarious and unexpectedly moving-especially all the scenes with Magnus, who remains for me a truly unique and wonderful character.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10

Read if you enjoyed: ‘The Bane Chronicles’ and ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare

This Book in Four Words: Funny. Intriguing. Inventive. Witty.

Image via Tumblr

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