“Nothing But Shadows” by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan



Before I get into this particular story and its strengths and weaknesses, I just want to talk about the cover. Not only have the cover designers given Simon freckles, and so deciding NOT to give him perfect blemish-free skin, but they have made his “MADE IN BROOKLYN” shirt. From The Mortal Instruments. That is SO COOL. I fangirled so hard when I saw this cover. I can’t wait to see the rest of it! I hope the designers get Simon as right as they got Magnus!

Anyways, this review is going to sound a lot like my review of The Whitechapel Fiend, in that I loved the story, but felt like it was a little irrelevant. But this review will take it one step further and say that I felt like this story was a blatant advertisement for The Last Hours.

This story finds Simon in the middle of a history class with Catarina Loss and his Shadowhunter Academy peers. Everyone’s getting into an argument because one of the “dregs”, or mundane students, got one of Catarina’s questions right and so the Nephilim kids got all gross about it and saying essentially that the “dregs” should be seen and not heard. It’s disgusting. Simon gets held back after class so that Catarina can tell him of a time where the same thing happened. Back in the day. To Will Herondale’s son.

Will and James! Just look at the adorableness!!!

First off the bat: I feel like the Herondales are getting way too much page time. Yes, this is me saying this. We all know that the Herondales are an extraordinary family filled with extraordinary people, but there has to be other Shadowhunter families throughout history who have accomplished great deeds. Don’t get me wrong, seeing Will with his family is always amazing, but at this point I feel like Clare is trying to keep her fans happy as opposed to keeping her story happy. Clare’s an amazing enough author that she should be able to do both, but I think she likes giving us as much Herondale as she can, no matter how unrealistic the scenario. You know what I would love? A story about a decent Morgenstern. Like, to show that Valentine was not like the rest of his family or something. But instead we get more Herondales. I swear, by the end of Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, we’ll know more about the Herondales than we will Simon. And since Simon is on the cover of this particular  anthology, I feel like this is a problem.

There’s a specific reason I feel like this is an advertisement for The Last Hours, though, and that’s because of how we are introduced to James Herondale. We’ve met a grown-up James, in The Bane Chronicles, but this time we meet James as he first enters the Academy.

Now I’m not going to say this is a spoiler because I feel like it’s not, since James is Tessa’s son and Tessa is half Shadowhunter, half demon, but if you feel differently tell me ASAP and I’ll chuck a huge, bold SPOILER in here.

So, in this story we find out that James can turn into shadows and move himself around. And move himself through things. It’s some genetic bonus from his magical mother. We find this out, James gets bullied a lot, there’s an accident for which James is blamed, and then he and his new best friend get sent home to the London Institute to be trained by Will. This is where the story ends. And why I feel like this particular story is an advertisement for TLH. How did James get trained? Did Will get in trouble? What powers does James’ sister have? All of these questions suddenly appear and so we are immediately curious to see what becomes of the Herondale children.

After this anecdote of Catarina’s ends, Simon comes to the realisation that he’s going to ask Clary to be his parabatai. Like we all didn’t see that coming.

I devoured this story but I really wish that Clare would move on from the Herondales. They already have a platform. Or they will, when The Last Hours is finally released. Please, Clare, spread out a bit. I love you, but I am begging you to not become one of those authors who writes specifically to please the fans. You can make us happy by just writing a damn good story.

James and his friend when they’re older! So adorable.

N.B. The images on this post were both created by the incredibly talented Cassandra Jean. If you want to see more of her awesome work, check out her Tumblr here.


About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
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