Sunday, January 27, 2013

Book Review: Shadowhunters and Downworlders

Shadowhunters and Downworlders:
A Mortal Instruments Reader
Edited By:  Cassandra Clare
Published By:  SmartPop
Publication Date:  January 29th, 2013
Page Count: 256 pages
Source:  ARC Kindly Provided by the Publisher
  Audience:  Young Adult Followers of The Mortal Instruments

This anthology of essays is a must read for any Mortal Instruments fans who are looking to expand their minds a bit further by delving deeper into various subjects broached in Cassandra Clare's best selling series...The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices. 

What Shadowhunters and Downworlders is, is an interesting compilation of different musings by Cassandra Clare's author friends on various aspects of Cassie Clare's books.   Each of her author friends has his or her own chapter devoted to discussing everything from the setting of The Mortal Instruments, to 'Why the Best Friend Never Gets the Girl', to the intricacies of immortality and the semantics of villains and to never underestimate an artist among many other great topics for up for discussion.

Unhomely Places

Kate Milford's essay offers a thoughtful discussion on TMI's backdrop--New York City--and how, if you REALLY look at the mundane things you would perhaps normally overlook, you might see some of the uncanny in every day life...perhaps similar to how Clary first saw her own city through the unveiled eyes of a Shadowhunter.  Overall, I found Kate's thoughts offered an interesting point of view but I couldn't always follow her train of thought -- however, I think I got the general idea.

The Art of War

I really enjoyed Sarah Crossan's piece on The Art of War and how it pertained to Clary's role in TMI in particular.  Ms. Crossan delivered a really interesting point of view about Clary's strengths...not physically, but through Clary's imagination and art.  If you really think about it, at the outset, Clary was the least likely character to be responsible for sabotaging Valentine's plans and saving everyone from almost inevitable destruction at the hands of her maniacal father.  Afterall, she was just a little girl brought up in the mundane world with absolutely no skills in fighting.  But the old sayings, 'the pen is mightier than the sword', and 'NEVER underestimate your opponent', couldn't describe Clary's situaton any better.  I loved Sarah's take on this whole issue.

Sharper Than A Seraph Blade

This was awesome essay offered by Diana Peterfreund on Jace's trademark sense of humour and how he often uses it in battle as part of his arsenal of weapons, as well as how the use of his humour is indicative of Jace's state of mind.  She made several good points that I had not considered when reading The Mortal Instrument books thus far.

When Laws Are Made to be Broken

Robin Wasserman takes an introspective look into the laws that the Shadowhunters abide by...and how they sometimes test their limits but still believe in them overall, as well as questioning why the Shadowhunters follow these 'hard' rules when many members of The Clave have been known to be corrupt.  I often wondered about these issues as well and enjoyed her discussion.

Simon Lewis:  Jewish, Vampire, Hero

I think this was my favourite essay of this anthology.  Michelle Hodkins nailed my thoughts about Simon in her piece perfectly.  I've always loved Simon but I think I love him hundreds of times more after this great in-depth analogy of the inner-workings of Simon...everything from him being a bit of an 'Other' when he was a mundane by his Jewish faith, to being 'Other' when becoming a vampire, and then his evolution into actually becoming a hero in City of Lost Souls...but all along, Simon never really fundamentally changed.  He always stayed true to himself and but still went through an incredible evolution.  Loved it!

Why the Best Friend Never Gets the Girl

Kami Garcia's humorous take on this topic, introducing us to her theory on the 'Duckie Effect' was entertaining...and painfully true.

Brotherly Love

Kandare Blake was brave to take on this subject...all about the taboos of incest and how those taboos affected Jace & Clary's relationship when it was thought they shared the same father throughout much of the first three books.  But not only thing I hadn't considered that Kendare brought up, is the shared angel blood between them and how that may, on some genetic level, call out to each other.  It was very interesting.

Asking For A Friend

Gwenda Bond's essay on the complicated friendships amongst the characters of TMI was really thought-provoking.  Analyzing the bonds between Clary and Simon, Jace and Alec, Jace and Simon and Clary and Isabelle provided some interesting new perspectives to keep in mind when I revisit the TMI world.  We are always looking for that EPIC love story...but what is great about the TMI world is that EPIC friendships exist alongside!

(Not) For Illustration Purposes Only

"...Ms. Clare has said that she thought of the idea for Shadowhunters after being shown a tattoo that was supposed to grant protective powers to a warrior, and such tattoos are surprisingly wide-spread in many cultures." ~p. 136 Shadowhunters and Downworlders (arc)

I quite enjoyed Rachel Caine's humorous commentary of the meanings of and symbolism behind runes and tattoos throughout the ages right up to present day and how they are the very essence of the powers the Shadowhunters possess, along with their angel blood.

The Importance of Being Malec

Sarah Ryan's essay on "Malec" (Magnus & Alec) and their significance in the books as not just something to attract the gay community was a thoughtful one...pointing out that there are many parallels between what the characters themselves faced along with similar issues that Simon faced...and perhaps what we face in our own lives.  Is their story relatable to all of us in some respect?

Villains, Valentine, and Virtue

Scott Tracey's piece explores the enigma of Valentine Morgenstern...what was his motivation, pondering why he chose this path in his life and discussing the repercussions of his actions.  I can see why Valentine was one of his favourite villains ever...I think he was mine too.

Immortality and Its Discontents

An interesting roundtable-sort-of discussion between Holly Black and Kelly Link, with occasional interjections from Cassie herself, about the issue of immortality: advantages and disadvantages of living forever and how the characters in Cassie's books deal with the issue relative to themselves and their relationships.  They sometimes went off on a tangent, but sometimes that's what happens between highly imaginative people discussing Cassie's books.

What Does that Deviant Wench Think She's Doing?...

I have to admit that I was a little lost following Sarah Rees Brennan's rather bizarre musings about all things TMI and TID, and the subject of desire, and pointing out the effectiveness of the sometimes taboo subject matter Cassandra Clare writes about...but I think I got the gist of what she was trying to say, and I agree with her...(I think).

Some of these essays really resonated with me...but I have to say that my favourite was Michelle Hodkins'.  Her analysis of Simon and his role in this series was spot-on for me!  But overall I enjoyed the interesting perspectives on various aspects of Cassandra Clare's books!  I encourage all hard-core Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices fans to include this anthology of essays in their 'to-be-read' piles.  This anthology offers up some interesting points of discussion for book clubs, as well!

Thanks to Heather Butterfield and BenBella Books for the opportunity to read and review Shadowhunters and Downworlders prior to its release!


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


  1. I've never heard of this, I had no idea it was coming out. It seems really interesting...I like how this is edited by Cassie Clare unlike people who make these essay books without the author.

  2. Kat C, yes! That's how I felt about this book too. The fact that CC herself edited it keeps is REAL, if you know what I mean. I highly recommend this to all hard-core TMI fans! Great things to think about!


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