Review – Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy – Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman

Walker Books Ltd., 2016

Simon Lewis is a hero. Or so he has been informed. He can’t actually remember his heroics thanks to an encounter with a demon and a sacrifice that saved the lives of friends who are now strangers to him. But Simon has a way to get it all back. In the wake of a devastating war, the Nephilim are recruiting ordinary people to join their ranks, who will be trained at the newly re-opened Shadowhunter Academy and – should they prove worthy – will drink from the Mortal Cup to take on the strength of the Angel’s warriors. Simon wants to be a hero again. More than that, he wants to work out who he really is. He hopes that his time at the Academy will give him a chance at both those things, and maybe even understand what the hell the blazing, famous Isabelle Lightwood ever saw in him. All he has to do is survive training with a group of ferociously competitive would-be demon-killers…and then there’s the demons themselves.

This is a book for established fans of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter series only. It is a collection of short stories centred around Simon Lewis, a character from the Mortal Instruments series, though other characters from the Shadowhunter books do show up. The short stories were originally published as standalone e-books, in the same style as The Bane Chronicles, which means there’s a bit of repetition when you’re reading them all together. I wasn’t always very interested in the Academy plots but most of the stories had other layers to them, weaving in parts of Shadowhunter history, and having read all the previous books, I was delighted to see backstories filled in and favourite characters return. The story I enjoyed most was ‘Born to Endless Night’ just for the Lightwood family shenanigans, but there’s a lot to love here for Shadowhunter fans.

Review – The Bane Chronicles

The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson

Walker Books, 2014

When you live forever, it is your duty to be as fabulous as possible. As a warlock, Magnus Bane is half human and half demon; he has outlived monarchies and empires, acquiring extraordinary anecdotes along the way. From a ballooning trip across Paris with Marie Antoinette to running a speakeasy in Prohibition America, to that time he started a llama stampede in Peru, he has lived many lives. These eleven stories are only a glimpse into his glittering, volatile world.

The Bane Chronicles will only make full sense to someone who has read all of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter books, beginning with book one of the Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones. The biracial, bisexual High Warlock of Brooklyn Magnus Bane is a secondary character throughout those books, if an increasingly significant one, but here he takes centre stage. Each story takes on a different time in his life, many of which connect to events from previous books and give rich backstory to other secondary characters, such as the vampire Raphael Santiago and warlock Catarina Loss.

Due to his massive experience, Magnus often comes off as a kind of time traveller, a little separate from the rest of the world – maybe that’s why I found the historical stories less convincing than the more contemporary ones. There are fascinating ideas here, and delightful references for any fan of the Shadowhunter universe. Clare has also written a steampunk prequel trilogy to the Mortal Instruments books, called the Infernal Devices, which begins with Clockwork Angel. Characters from all the books feature in The Bane Chronicles.