A collection of Shadowhunter short stories proves a good read between series’

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So well have I done with all the Shadowhunter world books this year that the only 2 I have left to read are the collections of novella’s in Tales from The Shadowhunter Academy and The Bane Chronicles. Keen to try and reach my achievement of reading them all by the end of 2017 I decided to push on and read Tales from The Shadowhunter Academy, the book that would ultimately complete my Good Reads 2017 challenge of reading 52 books this year.

This book picks up with Simon after the end of City of Heavenly Fire so if you haven’t read the mortal instruments series it’s probably best you do that first to avoid any spoilers as this collection is full of references to both The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments. It also looks forward into the books that came after this one, The Dark Artifices and offers a brief glimpse at some of the new characters who Clare is going to be building her new adventures around in the Shadowhunter world so we meet Emma and Julian and Mark & Helen Blackthorn.

Set inside the school for Shadowhunters we follow Simon as he trains to become a Shadowhunter himself and the different people he meets during his journey and the friends he makes and trials he faces. Popping in and out of the school we find lots of familiar faces who are either just dropping by to see Simon such as Isabelle, Clary and Jace or we have some guest teachers who drop by to share their stories from the Shadowhunter world in the case of Magnus Bane, Tessa Grey and Robert Lightwood.

There are lots of cautionary tales in here for new Shadowhunters that give us extra glimpses into the world we’ve learned about through the previous series’ and it’s nice to revisit stories that have been touched on but never fully explored in the past. They are also great at highlighting the political and social inequalities in the Shadowhunter world, the prejudices they inflict on others and their harsh rules that they often live by and hide behind. As we have moved into The Dark Artifices this has become more important to Clare’s storytelling and so this book was another great chance to explore stories that make you think about whether at its core there is something corrupt in the whole world.

I am not a lover of short stories which is effectively what this book is, all be it strung together cohesively into a sort of story. I sometimes find myself losing focus with them but I didn’t find this an issue with this book. It was because of the way the stories were drawn together and fed on from each other that I think helped with this. It didn’t feel so much like jumping from one time period to another without reason or hearing about tales individually from each other, they were all linked with clever storytelling and strong moral teachings from each one.

I have given this a 4 out of 5, but honestly, I’d probably lean more towards a 3.5 however this is because held up against the other Shadowhunter novels it is one that you really could take or leave and not impact your understanding of the others. It was a good read but it was really a filler book to get us from The Mortal Instruments to The Dark Artifice through the use of the short stories that had been written about the world.

Absolutely joy and escapism in the historic Shadowhunter world

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading is such a precious thing and it’s the ability it has to transport you to another time and place and to fully immerse you in a world that is not your own that makes it such a magical thing. For some time now I’ve struggled to find books that have absolutely engaged me fully but I’ve been very lucky recently to find books that have helped me to really rediscover the joy of reading which had been not fully there for a time. I find myself somewhat breathless with joy as I write this review for Clockwork Prince, the second book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices Trilogy because I’ve only just finished it and so enraptured was I with it that I want to tell the world to read it, immediately if they haven’t already.

Often I will read the first book in a series and then leave it a long time before I progress to the second, and subsequent books in the set but having loved Clockwork Angel I took a break of only one book between reading that and returning to the Infernal Devices to read Clockwork Prince. Therefore the story was absolutely fresh in my mind and the characters were crystal clear. Clockwork Prince picks up immediately after the events of the first book and is a direct continuation of the story laid out in book one. We are still following the search for the mysterious Magister and trying to understand why he hates Shadowhunters so much and why he is so intent on marrying Tessa Grey.

The action moves very quickly in this book, unlike book one, Clare doesn’t waste time recapping any of the Shadowhunter history or building the characters but immediately moves the action on from the end of book one with a meeting of the Counsel of Shadowhunters and the challenge from Benedict Lightwood to Charlotte Branwell’s guardianship of the London Institute of Shadowhunters. Charlotte is given two weeks to prove her suitability for the role by finding out where Axel Mortmain, the Magister is and what his intentions are otherwise the guardianship of the Institute will be handed over to Benedict Lightwood and his sons Gideon and Gabriel. It is also agreed that his sons should provide training in combat to both Tessa and Sophie, the Institute’s servant to help them protect themselves in the future.

From this point, we follow the group of Shadowhunters we grew to know so well in Book one as they try to find out all they can about Axel Mortmain’s whereabouts before the two-week deadline expires. All of the familiar characters from Book One return along with some new faces. We learn more about why Will Herrondale pushes people away as he works with warlock Magnus Bane to try and free himself of a curse. We learn more about the complex Lightwood family and the two sons of Benedict and just why they have been sent to the institute to instruct Tessa and Sophie and why their father seems hell bent on gaining the institute.

This book is so rich with atmosphere, again we are drawn into a dark and gothic London of the late 1800’s where we are aware of dark going’s on that are hidden from the view of mundane’s as downworlders mix with the dark side of London’s alleyways. Clare paints such vivid pictures of the world she is building that we lose ourselves entirely in it. In this book, she also paints wonderful pictures of the bleakness of Yorkshire and the landscape there.

It is her character writing that truly stands out. The way she writes the wonderful triangle between Jem, Will and Tessa would take your breath away. We know that both Jem and Will love Tessa deeply and in most occasions when this happens in books we pick a team, people will post and say #Will or #Jem but honestly, she has so brilliantly written all of the characters and has given them such deep emotional range that we cannot pick. We don’t want either to win the heart of Tessa, we root for them both and feel distraught that Tessa cannot have them both. We don’t want her to break either’s hearts. Instead, we want them all to be happy.

And as for Magnus Bane, well, I am falling in love with that character, you can tell there is so much more we have yet to discover about this Warlock and his past that every time he is on the page it lights up. I want to spend chapters with him, his enigmatic personality and his history and his depth of emotion. I could literally read about him all day long.

There are so many unresolved issues at the end of this book that I am itching to read book 3, Clockwork Princess, I want to know the answers to all the loose ends now. I am going to take a break between this and book 3 but I know I’m going to be so desperate to get back to this story it will be an immediate TBR (to be read) after I have finished the book I choose to read next. I can say, even without reading book 3, that this is a world I have fallen in love with completely. I now cannot wait to read The Mortal Instruments, I am literally itching to get started in the modern Shadowhunter world. I love that Cassandra Clare has built a whole world for us to escape to and at the end of the day, whether we are an adult reader or a Young Adult reader, isn’t that really what we all want from the books we read? To escape completely for a while to a place we can leave ourselves behind and feel part of the world we go to so completely that when we return to real life we feel a little bereft?