Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare

Monday, July 10, 2017


FAIR WARNING: Do not proceed if you have not read City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6) by Cassandra Clare. If you plan on reading Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, I recommend you do so after you read City of Heavenly Fire.

3 out of 5 stars

Here's something I never thought I'd say about a book Cassandra Clare had written, let alone one that takes place in the Shadowhunter Universe: Eh, I thought it was okay. Well, there's a first time for everything! This was also the first novella or series of novellas I've read. You see, there quite a few reasons why I wasn't particularly fond of the book. One of those reasons being that the characters that were originally introduced in The Mortal Instruments like Simon, Clary, Isabelle, and even Robert (especially Robert) didn't really sound like themselves. This, I think, had to do with the fact that, along with Cassandra Clare- who no doubt had the majority say in TFTSA- there were three other authors: Robin Wasserman, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan. The added, varying perspectives will have certainly impacted the writing of the characters.

That said, I also didn't generally like the fact that there were co-authors. Aside from the tampered character POVs, the differences in the quality of the writing in each story was so apparent. At some point along the collection of novellas, I actually considered not reading the rest. I was disappointed in this one. I also carefully considered giving this book a rating of two and a half stars, because according to my very own rating rubric, a rating of two and a half stars is equivalent to an "eh" and if you reread the beginning of this review, I specifically used the term "eh" to describe how I felt about this book. But then, I realized there were some things I liked. For example, in the very first story "Welcome to the Shadowhunter Academy", Simon remembers that Jordan is dead and he and his roommate have a brief, but powerful heart-to-heart. This part is an example of one of the reasons why I love reading so much. Some authors are remarkably skilled in constructing scenes in which the reader can sympathize, if not connect with a character, regardless of whether or not the character is "relatable". Frankly, I had forgotten Jordan was dead (I read City of Heavenly Fire in 2014) But, in that scene, I felt Simon's grief (very much so, it was terrifying, really). People who don't understand this connection will scoff and laugh at me, but I'm being completely honest when I say I was genuinely on the verge of tears (I might've even cried, I don't really remember)

My favorite novella was entitled "Nothing but Shadows", which gave a brief glimpse into the James Herondale's (Will Herondale's son) early Academy experience. I enjoyed reading about James and his enemy turned parabatai Mathew Fairchild (yes, you guessed it! Charlotte and Henry's son). I also, oddly, liked Ragnor, the warlock who taught the Academy for a long time (until he was killed, that is). "Oddly" because he's a little grumpy, and puts on an indifferent front when, in reality, he cares about his Nephilim students. Most of all, I loved the dynamic of James and Mathew's friendship. James intitally hated Mathew, he thought he was annoying and a showoff, when Mathew was really just trying to get James's attention and befriend him. It was purely platonic (for now, at least) and refreshing.

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