I’ve started to completely ignore the “release dates” for these stories. The dates are either pushed back or they tell us that the dates are pushed back and they actually aren’t. Either way, my inbox tells me when a new Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy is in my Kindle app.
Sidenote: my fangirl love of all things Cassandra Clare trumps my hatred of ebooks. I buy every single story for my Kindle App. But, in true fangirl-bibliophile style, I buy the physical books when they’re released.
This is a story-within-a-story. Robert Lightwood comes to the Academy, with Isabelle in tow. And of course it’s Isabelle, because this story is from Simon’s perspective. God forbid Alec comes to the Academy. I love these stories as I read them. I love them so much. But afterwards, I’m starting to see just how contrived they are. I mean, I can kind of see why Robert chose Isabelle for his little “test”, but Isabelle seems to be doing a lot of travelling. And yes, you could argue that she wants as many opportunities as possible to see Simon because she obviously still loves him, but come on. Shadowhunters must have other responsibilities, even the heroes of the battle against the Dark Shadowhunters. Like, how does Isabelle have all this downtime? I don’t understand it.
Anyway, Robert comes to the Academy to talk about The Circle, which we all know is what Valentine and his followers called themselves back in the day. I’d forgotten that Robert’s involvement in The Circle wasn’t public knowledge. So when the students reacted to the news, it surprised me. But, moving on.
This story tells of the incident that changed the direction of The Circle. Admittedly, the origins of The Circle were dubious to begin with, but this story shows just how dark, sadistic, and unhinged Valentine became after the death of his father. Introducing us to the early years of The Circle was way more interesting than telling us about the very beginning. There were more dynamics at play here, given that The Circle had been operating for a while by this point.
As much as I loved this particular perspective, there was one aspect of the story that I took great issue with:
By all rights, with his uncomfortable questions and rebellious theories, Valentine should have been the black sheep of Shadowhunter Academy. Ragnor Fell certainly treated him like a slimy creature who’d crawled out from under a rock and should be hastily returned there. But the rest of the faculty seemed blinded by Valentine’s personal magnetism , unable or unwilling to see through to the disrespect that lay beneath.
Now, who does this remind you of? Seriously. So much Voldemort. How hard would it have been to find another way of displaying Valentine’s charisma? Did he have to have the same effect on teachers as He Who Must Not Be Named in the series that shaped my childhood? I know Clare worships Harry Potter but J.K. Rowling could sue for plagiarism.
And then there’s the whole Michael Wayland/Robert Lightwood thing. I don’t want to give too much away but if you need any other reasons to hate this man, just take a look at how Robert treated his best friend. It was horrific. Though it explains a lot about the Lightwood family dynamic.
I’ve spoken a lot about the story-within-the-story here and that’s because Simon’s perspective is little more than a frame. Isabelle rocks up, Simon pines, Izzy messes things up as only Isabelle Lightwood can, and then the big plan is revealed. It’s really not that exciting.
Cassandra Clare writes characters like no one else I’ve ever read, and I love her for that. But lately I feel as though she’s pandering to her fans. And I don’t like it at all. I believe I’ve said this many times but it’s still true. As soon as authors/showrunners start catering to fans’ every whim, the original spark that made the book/show/movie great is lost. I really wish Clare would keep this in mind.
With this in mind, I give The Evil We Love :