This month I feel like I’ve gone on such a wonderful journey through the world of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters and her Infernal Devices Trilogy, I’ve been what I would term a transient reader for the past year and have struggled to read sometimes one book a month but somehow in May I have managed to read this entire trilogy and a few other books besides. The other books were there as fillers to stop me from reading The Infernal Devices books back to back but my desperation to return to Clare’s world meant I found myself devouring those books quickly too lest it takes me too long away from the world of Jem, Tessa and Will.
I had tried to begin The Mortal Instruments, the companion series to these books, and each time I had stalled. I just couldn’t build that picture in my mind of the world Clare was building but now I can see it as clearly as day. I feel it’s been fundamental for me to read this series, essentially the prequel to The Mortal Instruments books in order to be able to fully prepare myself to go back and delve into the modern world setting of the other books. I think I needed to have that gothic, historical setting and wonderful love stories to make me fall in love with the Shadowhunter world and to build the family background of all the characters that I will meet as I move into The Mortal Instruments.
And what a story this was, from the opening chapters it is full of a wonderful mix of adventure and suspense and emotion and love. It picks up immediately after the end of Clockwork Prince where we find that Will Herrondale’s sister Cecily has arrived at The Institute and is training now to be a Shadowhunter. We are still trying to track down the mysterious Magister and his army of clockwork automatons and to piece together how Tessa forms such an integral part of his plans. We also are still questioning how Tessa has the ability to shapeshift when both of her parents were apparently mundane’s. All of the characters we’ve come to love are there and it’s like coming home to family, you feel like part of the Institute and care about each and every single one of them. From Bridget the cook and her somewhat annoying if not insightful singing to Charlotte, head of the institute who is now pregnant with her first child.
Alongside all of the adventure of this book, the story is fundamentally about the one story we are all desperate to know the end of, the love between Jem, Will and Tessa. When we left them Tessa was engaged to marry Jem but his health is failing and unbeknown to him his best friend and parabatai Will is also in love with his fiancee. For the first time in any love triangle, I was so desperately rooting for them all. Jem and Will are so intricately a part of each other and such wonderfully written characters that you want to be able for Tessa to love them both. This book had me wrung out emotionally throughout, there were so many moments of wonderful writing where Clare would move their story forward but also take great care not to rush past the difficult emotions that were going on within. At times there is humour and light moments to lift us from the darkness and this balance is a very special thing.
We do reach a wonderful and very satisfying conclusion at the end of the book, one I certainly didn’t see coming. In fact, throughout this book, there were so many moments where Clare would so utterly surprise you with how the story changed and moved that I found myself catching my breath and in sheer joy or amazement. Those surprises you don’t see coming make this an amazing end to her wonderful Infernal Devices series. Coming away from them I feel like I’ve made a whole group of new friends, not real friends but as a book lover, I’m sure you know that feeling that the people you read about when written well leap so off the page that they feel as real to you as can be. I am still utterly enraptured by Magnus Bane, I don’t know what it is about him that makes Clare write him so vividly that each time he is on the page he totally consumes it, he is so utterly three dimensional you feel you could reach out and touch him. I want to learn so much more about how each of the families of Shadowhunters will move forward in The Mortal Instruments. I want to see how their children’s children and great grandchildren will reflect the characters of their ancestors.
These books have been such a wonderful experience to read this past month. Someone said to me recently that if you are in a reading slump maybe it’s not the reading that’s the problem but what you are reading. Never has a truer word been spoken. To break away from my usual genre’s and to enter a world unfamiliar has paid me such dividends and rejuvenated me so much that I feel more enthusiastic about reading than I have in such a long time. For that, Cassandra Clare, I thank you.