“If we jump, we jump together. We fall together.”
This book is a collection of ten short stories set in the Shadowhunter universe that follow Simon at the conclusion of the Mortal Instruments series. Readers will recall that at the end of City of Heavenly Fire, Simon was stuck with the short end of the straw as he had his memories wiped of anything relating to the Shadow World, his best friend Clary, and his time as a vampire. At the end of the novel, Clary and Shadowhunter/girlfriend of Simon, Isabelle, attempt to repair Simon’s memories. They succeed, but Simon is only a fraction of the person they remember – and he barely remembers them at all.
My heart really bled for Simon at the end of City of Heavenly Fire. I was so excited when I learned that Cassandra Clare was releasing short stories, set over a two year period, that revealed Simon’s future as he was accepted into the newly-opened Shadowhunter Academy as a war hero.
(warning: spoilers below)
1 – Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy
We begin the series with Simon arrives at Shadowhunter Academy and finding out that he is in the upper echelon of the school which is separated into two forms: the Shadowhunters and the Mundanes. The mundanes, who discover they have an innate ability for shadow-hunting, are treated terribly by the Shadowhunters and Simon does not stand by this for long. We meet Beatriz, Julie, and cutie-pie George. Isabelle was hilarious in her little spiel that if any girl touches Simon, she’ll be going after them. Unpopular opinion alert: now, I have never especially liked Izzy and Simon’s relationship. In the Mortal Instruments books, it just seems strained, like Clare was forcing the relationship on them. In the following stories, I see now how cute they are together and really enjoyed watching their relationship progress.
2 – The Lost Herondale
In this story, Catarina Loss, powerful warlock and friend to Magnus Bane, comes to Shadowhunter Academy as a guest lecturer and talks about the greatest crime a Shadowhunter can commit: abandoning their fellow hunters in battle. Catarina tells the story of Tobias Herondale who did just that – he disappeared during the midst of battle and was never seen again. Under Shadowhunter law, his life was forfeit, but because he could not be found, his wife and unborn child’s life was taken instead. Catarina pulls Simon aside after class and explains the real story that no one knows: the Herondale child was born before the mother died, and raised by Catarina. That means there is a Herondale out there in the mundane world, which relates to Clare’s new series, The Dark Artifices.
3 – The Whitechapel Fiend
This story was very exciting. I am a massive history buff, with a soft-spot for Jack the Ripper (that sounds strange). We travel back to the beloved characters from The Infernal Devices in the 19th century. Will, Tessa and Jem (as Brother Zachariah) make an appearance, along with Will and Tessa’s children, James and Lucie. It was exciting to see that Jack the Ripper was a demon and that Will and Tessa brought him down.
4 – Nothing but Shadows
Another story that revolves around past characters: Will and Tessa’s son James is accepted into Shadowhunter Academy and has trouble assimilating. Because his mother is a warlock, James has warlock abilities, including the power to turn into a shadow, which happens at an inopportune moment. He becomes ostracised from the classmates but makes a new friend in Matthew Fairchild. Meanwhile, Simon is unhappy with how the Shadowhunter students bully the mundanes.
5 – The Evil We Love
This story was revelatory: Simon learns about how The Circle first rose to power in Shadowhunter Academy. Young Valentine was terrifying, and watching how people got completely under his charm was scary. Reminded me a lot of Hitler, which I expect was the point. It was so sad to learn about Robert Lightwood’s past and how terrible he treated his best friend, Michael Wayland, after Michael told Robert he loved him. It makes us understand Robert a little more when he finds out his son, Alec, is gay. Robert is seen as quite cowardly at the end of the book where he gives up his free will and allows Valentine to make decisions and choices for him. Meanwhile, Isabelle arrives at Shadowhunter Academy and disrupts school life, but for a purpose.
6 – Pale Kings and Princes
Another story within a story: Helen Blackthorn arrives at Shadowhunter Academy to give a lecture on the evils of faeries, which have become persecuted in the years after the events of City of Heavenly Fire. She tells the story of how her father met her mother and it is heartbreaking as she is forced to paint her mother as a whoring, evil faerie. The anti-downworlder sentiment is so incredibly sad and unfair. Helen’s predicament is heartbreaking, as is her brother’s, Mark, who was taken by the Wild Hunt and the Shadowhunters refuse to save him. These events are further explored in Lady Midnight.
7 – Bitter of Tongue
Simon is kidnapped by the fey and in his captivity he meets Mark Blackthorn. Mark is hanging on by a thread, and almost collapses further when he learns that the Shadowhunters have given up on him. We are introduced to another new character, Kieran. I am a huge supporter of LGBT characters in fiction and the moment I saw Kieran and his interaction with Mark, I knew they were together. In Lady Midnight¸ we see that they, in fact, are in a relationship (what a guess). Mark saves Simon and then Isabelle saves Simon (as usual). Helen is to be married to Aline and the wedding was a beautiful joy in their lives, the only one, as she is forced back to Wrangel Island where she remains in exile, due to the fey’s involvement in the previous war.
8 – The Fiery Trial
Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn (protagonists in Lady Midnight) want to be parabatai and ask Simon and Clary to act as witnesses. The ceremony goes awry and it is discovered that Simon and Clary actually did the ceremony together and are now parabatai. Emma and Julian complete the ceremony too, but there is an air of sadness to it which leads into Lady Midnight.
9 – Born to Endless Night
This is one of my favourite stories in the collection: Magnus is a guest lecturer at Shadowhunter Academy and brings Alec along with him where they discover a warlock baby has been abandoned on the Academy’s steps. Alec’s family arrives and go crazy, acting as if Magnus and Alec are adopting the baby, which they do. The baby is named Max and it is the sweetest story in the collection.
10 – Angels Twice Descending
The final story in the collection is set two years after the first, and revolves around Simon’s graduation from the Academy and his ascension as a Shadowhunter. The story was heartbreaking in that one of Simon’s closest friends dies. Simon honours them by assuming their last name as his own. Simon receives his memories back and becomes a Shadowhunter.
This collection was wonderful to read. I love the new characters and the instances where we see the past and what will happen in the future, especially in Clare’s new series The Dark Artifices and the upcoming The Last Hours.
Preorder the book here.