Book Review: Shadowhunters and Downworlders

There’s no such thing as too much of The Mortal Instruments!

The books following the misadventures of Clary Fray and her friends are addictive and heart-wrenching, so why not delve into them a little further?

Shadowhunters and Downworlders

Thankfully, Smart Pop Books has given us the means to do so with their new companion book Shadowhunters and Downworlders! Besides the really cool cover featuring the alliance rune, this book features tons of great analysis of The Mortal Instruments series. Many of the authors involved are personal friends of Cassandra Clare, some of whom were present as she wrote TMI and have unique insider perspectives.

Let’s start by saying that this is The Mortal Instruments ONLY. There are a couple fleeting mentions of characters from The Infernal Devices and no talk of the upcoming Dark Artifices. As much as we all love Will, Jem, and Tessa, you’ve got to be in the mindset to focus on Clary and her friends.

The book seems to be broken into two halves: The heavier, scholarly half and the lighter, more entertaining half.

Some of the scholarly essays do get dry, but others enlighten you. They make connections that readers couldn’t possibly fathom on their own (unless you have a reeeeeeally extensive knowledge base!) and makes TMI stand out in new ways. Our favorite of these were “When Laws Are Made to Be Broken” by Robin Wasserman and “Simon Lewis: Jewish, Vampire, Hero” by Michelle Hodkin.

For readers who are going into the book expecting something a little more akin to Cassandra Clare’s fantastical storytelling style, don’t give up if some of the essays in the beginning just aren’t cutting it for you. The book keeps getting better and better as it goes along. In the second half, we get gems like “Brotherly Love” by Kendare Blake about incest and “The Importance of Being Malec” by Sara Ryan about the portrayal of LGBT characters in young adult literature. There’s also “Immortality and Its Discontents” by Kelly Link and Holly Black, the most unique essay in the book– it’s basically a chat between Kelly, Holly, and Cassandra Clare about the struggles of immortal characters, but it’s terribly amusing.

The best essay, hands down, is the last: Sarah Rees Brennan’s “What Does That Deviant Wench Think She’s Doing? Or, Shadowhunters Gone Wild”. Brennan writes about the sexual undertones of the book with a zany, unapologetic clarity that takes the often debated topic, stares it down, and says “Everyone is hooking up with everyone else (or at least wants to!) SO WHAT?” We’ve always been on Sarah’s side of the argument, so it was refreshing to see it all defended in such a well-written essay.

Shadowhunters and Downworlders has something for everyone. There’s research and scholarship, there’s opinions and laughs, and there’s something about our favorite books, characters, and places on every. single. page. As an added bonus, Cassandra Clare introduces each essay with her own blurb on the topic, guaranteeing you that the woman behind the curtain is excited about its contents. If you’re a diehard fan of Cassandra Clare, this book is worth the read!