Book Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy – Cassandra Clare

This is gonna be the exact same as the previous post since they’re both short story collections <3

I really loved this collection as well, more below!


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Name: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
Author: Cassandra Clare, 
Sarah Rees Brennan,                                              Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: August 1, 2017 (1st published Nov 15, 2016)

Synopsis

Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. The events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. Whomever this new Simon might be.

But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. At least Simon’s trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. Written by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman, these moving and hilarious short stories are perfect for the fan who just can’t get enough of the Shadowhunters.


Book Cover Comments

Well Hello Simon

Honestly lowkey creepy but hey the content is what I’m here for woop woop


The Actual Review

I totally loved TftSA (heavens above this acronym is so damn long). Firstly, we get to hear the aftertales of Simon Lewis, our favourite vampire-mundane-to/be/Shadowhunter, whatever you want to call him. Then we get to hear all these cool tales and stories that all occured in the Academy itself, whether it is the past or the present. TftSA is a combination of the growth of Simon as he finds his place and belonging in all of this—the aftermaths of City of Heavenly Fire— and the revisiting of some of our beloved characters, as well as characters we were dying to hear from.

To show my love for the Shadowhunters Chronicles once again, I am going to do the same thing as I did with my last review: Bane Chronicles (also check it out if you haven’t HERE). Once again I’ll try to keep my thoughts on each of the short stories short, but no guarantee.

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Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy

After living as a mundane and a vampire, Simon Lewis never thought he’d become a Shadowhunter, but today he begins his training at Shadowhunter Academy. Simon Lewis has been many things. A mundane. A vampire. A hero. But Simon can’t remember any of that. His memories of adventures with Clary, Isabelle, and the rest of the New York Shadowhunters were erased by a demon, and now Simon is eager to reclaim that part of himself. But will he ever get back the parts of himself that he lost? Does he even want to?

This kicks Simon’s story off to such a good start. It’s not always a cheerful opening: Simon finds the struggles to become the Simon that everyone sees in their eyes and everyone hopes for: especially towards Clary and Isabelle. And worse, there is such a clear separation between the mundanes and the Shadowhunter-born fellows at the Academy as Simon tries to find his place between the two —having been both and having some memories of each— and starts to set off a chain reaction in the Academy: something hoped by many.

~~~~

The Lost Herondale

Simon learns about the worst thing a Shadowhunter can do: desert their comrades.

In the early 19th century, Tobias Herondale abandoned his fellow Shadowhunters in the heat of battle and left them to die. His life was forfeit, but Tobias never returned, and the Clave claimed his wife’s life in exchange for Tobias’s. Simon and his fellow students are shocked to learn of this brutality, especially when it is revealed the woman was pregnant. But what if the child survived…could there be a lost Herondale line out in the world today?

We start having our guest speakers in town, even though this time it’s literally no one you know. Just as the synopsis of this short story says, our guest speaker brings to us the story of Tobias Herondale (spoiler alert: this sets one string for The Dark Artifices). Simon learns a secret behind this story from fellow warlock friend, Catarina Loss. To every tale, there is always another side. To every light, there will always a shadow, and people tend to be only drawn to one side. And as I am writing this, maybe this is the same with Simon too: he only sees what he is lacking, but does not believe in the life he had before this as he continues to embark on his journey to find himself.

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The Whitechapel Fiend

There are two guest teachers this week, and—just Simon’s luck—they’re both Herondales. When Jace teaches a class at the Academy, warlock Tessa visits to share the true story of the Jack the Ripper murders.

I’ve said it before: you can never detangle yourself from the story of the Herondales. It goes on and on and on. Simon gets a visit from Jace as he continues to find his own strength from the boot-camp-scout-training of the Academy; but the best part doesn’t come in till Tessa, our favourite heroine of the Infernal Devices comes give a guest speech. Clare makes a twist on the classic story of Jack the Ripper as we are told what actually happened in Victorian London in the world of the Shadowhunters as we revisit our favourite characters of the Victorian era, not to mention, one little James Herondale who likes a knife and a spoon too much. And in all of this, Simon finds a connection between himself and the heroic Jace Herondale, and maybe he’s just one step closer to finding what he needs.

~~~~

Nothing but Shadows

Simon is not the first student to feel out of place at the Shadowhunter Academy—half-warlock and total bookworm James Herondale certainly didn’t quite fit in with the other students. Simon learns about James’ time at the Academy and discovers what it means to find a place you belong in this prelude to The Last Hours.

Simon continues to find his struggle amongst his fellow students, especially the Shadowhunters, who, as Shadowhunters often do, still look down upon mundanes (and Downorlders): steoreotypes and assumptions happen so often. As he continues to find his standing between all the tension, we glimpse into the story of James Herondale and the becoming of his parabatai as our half-warlock, too, struggles to find a place in between all of this.

James Herondale struggles: he is not the full heroic boy like his father, and is often teased by his classmates for having the eyes that mark him as a warlock. But through arguments and fights is a friendship that blossom, and with that, maybe a way to start a change for the Academy, for the better future, in hopes that the warlock in him will prove that, not all Downworlders are evil.

~~~~

The Evil We Love

All evil starts somewhere, and Simon Lewis learns how the Circle—led by Valentine Morgenstern—began.

The Shadowhunter Academy has only just reopened following the disastrous rise of the Circle. Now the faculty can finally admit to what happened when Valentine was a student.

As boring as our inquisitor, Robert Lightwood’s recollection of his story might have sounded to the students of the Academy, there is nothing but sadness within the tale of Robert as we learn about  his ties between the Circle, Maryse Lightwood and his parabatai, Michael. What happens when someone like Valentine, someone as convincing as him leads a group to rebel? When he is so set straight on something that everything seems to be right, but at the same time, in your heart, you know that there is something wrong? The story of Robert Lightwood is nothing but bittersweet as we learn his inner emotions, as hearts are broken and both Valentine and Robert himself reveal his biggest weakness.

~~~~

Pale Kings and Princes

As a former vampire, Simon’s always been sympathetic to Downworlders. But after a training exercise goes wrong, he gets a glimpse into the Shadowhunters’ prejudice as he learns about the origin of Helen and Mark Blackthorn, principle characters in The Dark Artifices.

Shadowhunters generally despise faeries the most: despise them for their cunning IQ or EQ that allows them to overpower the Shadowhunters with brain teasers, and for them to wield the power of words the most strongest among all the races. And yet with the existence of Mark and Helen Blackthorn whom are both Simon’s comrades, Simon disagrees with disgracing all of faeries as readers may or may not have a glimpse of the shadow to the story of Mark and Helen’s father and faerie-mother.

~~~~

Bitter of Tongue

After an Academy mission goes wrong, Simon is kidnapped by faeries (why is he always kidnapped?), he uncovers rumors of a secret weapon Sebastian left behind for the faerie queen. He must escape the Fey, relying on his only ally, former Shadowhunter and Dark Artifices character Mark Blackthorn.

This is a story of sadness that surrounds the entire Blackthorn family as Simon happens to come across each and everyone of them, all in the span of one short story. Simon meets Mark and gets glimpses of the members of the Wild Hunt while getting kidnapped, and hears the affection Mark has for his family; on the other hand, Simon comes across the rest of the Blackthorn children, and hears what Julian has to say when it comes to his brother. Maybe in the end, there are some words best left untold, because that’s the irony of love.

~~~~

The Fiery Trial

Simon and Clary reunite as they witness a parabatai ceremony… and discuss their own plans to be bonded.

Simon and Clary act as witnesses to the parabatai ceremony of Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn… and discuss their own parabatai plans in this precursor to The Dark Artifices.

This is the tale that acts as one of the last pieces to Simon’s tangled heart of guilt and identity-searching, and in this tale of trials of fiery and water and through this borrowed tale of Emma and Julian, Simon searches for his own answer in terms of the subject of parabatai, something that has came across his mind during his Academy days. And as Simon witnesses the ceremony of Emma and Julian, the things he notices —and the things he remembered— set the perfect stage for The Dark Artifices.

~~~~

Born to Endless Night

What happens when Magnus Bane brings a baby home to his boyfriend Alec Lightwood?

After a warlock baby is abandoned on the steps of the Academy, Magnus rescues the child—and brings him home to his boyfriend, Alec.

The second last short story in this collection, we once again get the perspective of our favourite Magnus Bane as he tells the hilarious and crazy story of Lightwoods, a Herondale, a Fairchild, a vampire, and Lightwoods, and how all they react to the main subject of discussion: a warlock baby. In this hilarious near-ending to the collection, we revisit the best qualities of all our favourite main characters of The Mortal Instruments  as Magnus finds what he truly wants from all of this crazy parading, and what everything would mean to the world he shares with Alec.

~~~~

Angels Twice Descending

Simon’s journey to become a Shadowhunter nears its end as his Ascension ceremony draws near.

The last story in the book tells the tale of the Ascension ceremony of this whole new batch of Shadowhunters as Simon ties off the last ends of the troubles he’s had for the past two years as we visit his encounters with Isabelle —the one he knew was his love—, Clary —his other side of the coin—, his mother —who had once abandoned him, but even so he still loves her— and George Lovelace —his roommate and brother for the past two years in their life in the Shadowhunters Academy— as they all prepare to depart and step Into the New World.


My last thoughts on the Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy: this collection of stories was filled with joy, sadness and bittersweet: from the most ridiculous 500 word “what I did this summer essay” written by yours truly, Simon Lewis, to everyone parading around the warlock baby, to the discrimination around downworlders and to Robert Lightwood and the Blackthorns tale, this is a must read in the world of Shadowhunters: a revisit of all of our favourite characters, and most importantly, as Simon finds the real him and the radiance in him.

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Joanne Lumiere

Joanne is the narcissistic founder of her book blog, Joanne Lumiere. Born and raised in Hong Kong, this 18 year old brat is currently attending college in Los Angeles, and still doesn't know how to read books with sophistication, and yet she runs a blog.

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