Shadowhunters and Downworlders: A Mortal Instruments Reader by Cassandra Clare

February 14, 2013 Reviews 0

  • Date published: 29th January 2013
  • Publisher: SmartPop Books
  • Format: Paperback, 256 pages
  • ISBN 13: 9781937856229 ISBN 10: 1937856224
  • Categories: YA Fantasy
  • Goodreads / The Book DepositoryBooktopia / Bookworld
  • Source: provided for review by the publisher

Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, epic urban fantasy set in a richly imagined world of shadowhunters, vampires, werewolves, fairies, and more, has captured the imaginations and loyalty of hundreds of thousands of YA readers. Originally a trilogy (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass), the series has extended to six titles, plus a prequel trilogy, the Infernal Devices, and a planned sequel series, the Dark Artifices. A feature film is planned for 2013.

Shadowhunters and Downworlders, edited by Clare (who provides an introduction to the book and to each piece), is a collection of YA authors writing about the series and its world.

Authors Who Contributed:
Holly Black / Kendare Blake / Gwenda Bond / Sarah Rees Brennan / Rachel Caine / Sarah Cross / Kami Garcia / Michelle Hodkin / Kelly Link / Kate Milford / Diana Peterfreund / Sara Ryan / Scott Tracey / Robin Wasserman

Shadowhunters and Downworlders is a collection of essays written by prominent YA authors around Cassandra Clare’s series, The Mortal Instruments. It is a quick yet through provoking read that I enjoyed, and it left me with a new sense of wonder at the world that Clare has created.

“I have a hard time passing up speculative fiction that begins with the premise that our own world is somehow not the place we’ve taken it for.”

— Kate Milford

The essays collectively cover the characters of the series, the magical world the story is set in, and the themes it explores. Some were a bit dry, but a few really stood out for me:

  • Sarah Cross’ examination of what makes Clary powerful – her love of Art – in The Art of War;
  • Robin Wasserman’s discussion on the rebellions in the series, both large and small, and the part that Shadowhunter Law plays in all of this, in When Laws are Made to be Broken;
  • Michelle Hodkin’s thoughtful essay on Simon, and how he begins the books as Other, as a Jewish character, and continues being Other through his transformation into a vampire, in Simon Lewis: Jewish, Vampire, Hero.
  • Kami Garicia’s humorous look at Why the Best Friend Never Gets the Girl;
  • Gwenda Bond’s remarks on the importance of friendship in world of The Mortal Instruments, in Asking for a Friend;
  • Sara Ryan’s examination of Clare’s portrayal of diverse characters in The Importance of Being Malec;
  • The discussion between Kelly Link and Holly Black concerning Immortality and its Discontents, with occasional drops in by Cassandra Clare; and
  • Sarah Rees Brennan’s laugh-out-loud commentary in What Does that Deviant Wench Think She’s Doing? Or, Shadowhunter’s Gone Wild, in which she discusses how the series pushes reader’s boundaries.
“Valentine is exceptional only in that, though he like all men is born with a choice between acts of humanity and destruction, he chooses destruction almost every time.”

— Scott Tracey

That’s a lot! But I really enjoyed reading the short essays, I think they have impacted me and the next time I go to re-read The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, I will definitely keep in mind what these authors have said about the series, its characters and settings, and the relationships it portrays.

This book will be a good investment for readers who are interested in the place Cassandra Clare’s works have in popular culture, who want to examine the effect of the books on its audience.

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