REVIEW: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy‘s goodreads page here

Publisher: Walker Books Ltd

Get your own copy from Book Depository, Kobo, or Amazon


SYNOPSIS:”Ten illustrated stories following the adventures of Simon Lewis, star of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Mortal Instruments, as he trains to become a Shadowhunter. Simon has been a human and a vampire, but after the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, he isn’t sure who he is anymore. When the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. Whomever this Simon might be…Join him 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. The series features characters from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments, Infernal Devices, Dark Artifices and the upcoming Last Hours series.

DISCLAIMER: If you have not read all other novels in the Shadowhunter Chronicles, you may be spoiled

Let me just start out by saying, I had major doubts about this book. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Simon in The Mortal Instruments, but I was rather hesitant about an entire novella series surrounding his time at the Shadowhunter Academy. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by the stories as they all felt fresh and exciting! As this novel isn’t written in the typical format, I thought I’d write a small review for each novella while I’m read.

Welcome to the Shadowhunter Academy:

This novella made me realise how much I missed the Shadowhunter world and more importantly, the precious little bean known as Simon Lewis! This story has no other purpose than to introduce the newest version of demon amnesia-ridden Simon, and the equally exciting and terrifying Shadowhunter Academy. As you could guess, after the Dark War outlined in City of Heavenly Fire the Shadowhunter population is under strain and reopen the famous school to train the newest generation of demon fighting badass’. Simon decides to join the school to trade in his mundane life and to rediscover who he is as he has trouble fitting in with the squad in New York. This story introduces us to his peers in two separate lines: “the Elites” that are the Shadowhunter students born into this life, and “the dregs”, mundanes wishing to Ascend and change their life’s for the better!

George, Simon’s rather handsome and sweetly Scottish, roommate was an instant hit with me! He is hilarious and a perfect match for the rather nervous and somewhat scared Simon. As for the rest of the novella, it just outlines life at the academy: the segregation between the groups, the rather questionable food served in the cafeteria, the harsh training teacher that seems to hates everyone, and the eclectic group of students. It was a good start to the novel, and I hope it keeps increasing!

The Lost Herondale:

I am very conflicted about this novella. Stupid little Rachel forgot to write a review of this novella because I was so lost in the moment and keen to get to the next bloody novella. So now that I have finished the book I honestly can’t remember any key points from this particular story: with all the others I remember a key plot point but I really don’t remember from this, oops. What I do know is that the students sit through a lecture of how Shadowhunters must be courageous and humble in all situations because cowardice is shunned in their society. With this, we are all introduced to Tobias Herondale, who ran from a fight because he was more concerned with protecting his wife and unborn child. He was destined to a harsh punishment but ran in fear of his life, so his wife was tortured while still pregnant as the Clave had to prove a point to all others. Catarina then elaborates on the story in private to Simon and turns it into a lecture about how he must do what is right and for the greater good of society, Shadowhunters and mundanes combined.

The Whitechapel Fiend:

This novella surrounds Tessa Gray and her family at the London institute way back in the day. She was invited to be a guest lecturer by Catarina to discuss how many issues that have plagued the mundane world have underlying supernatural themes. In this case, she tells the students about the history surrounding Jack the Ripper and the Shadowhunters hunted him down. I loved reading about their little family, and how William Herondale as a father makes him 100x more swoon worthy! The story was interesting as it involved so many characters from The Infernal Devices, the prequel to TMI that was set in the early 1900’s. With that being said, I don’t really see the connection the story has to the Academy. Sure it helps the students understand that they will be brought in to protect the mundanes, and to protect their own identity at the same time- but a demonic murderer running around London may be a bit hard to relate too. Although, I do love getting to read about #Wessa again and I will take any information readily available!

Nothing but Shadows:

SWEET BABY JESUS, I LOVE THIS! I was not expecting to how an entire novella about James freaking Herondale at the academy! Honestly, if you can not tell, I’m shaken to the core. To the core people! This novella started with Simon and the dregs the asking a stand to the elite students as they are done with being treated as the inferior group. Good Ol’ Catarina then tells him to take it easy on the Shadowhunter born students as that’s the only behaviour they were exposed to while growing up. While she does this, she also tells him a story about my new boyfriend James Herondale!

We got to see the second generation of the London Herondale’s got to the Academy. He was an introverted little bookworm, so it’s fair to say I highly related to James. His story focused on his journey of self-discovery and trying to fit in with a crowd of friends his own age. This task is troubled from the beginning when he is introduced by handsome little Matthew Fairchild. Although, the loud and obnoxious Matt and Jamie have a relationship that is more complex and difficult to understand than the humble roomies. We learned about their favourite books, the fact the both had been forced to attend the Academy unwillingly, and most importantly how Tessa’s warlock abilities have been passed to her children. I already know this novella is going to be my favourite of the bunch and has got me so pumped for The Last Hours Trilogy. I miss the awkward and lovable characters already.

The Evil we Love:

This story honestly shook me to the core, but with anger rather than admiration! So first of all this novella tells two stories simultaneously: Robert Lightwood and the Academy with fellow Circle members, and Isabelle creating havoc with Simon’s peers. So the pair comes to the Academy as Robert is to tell the cohort about his time within the Circle and how corruption is a possibility, even for the most famed and talented Shadowhunters. So with this, we are transported back to when shitty little indecisive, and extremely irritating, Robert is faced with problems all teenagers overcome. You know, normal things like: do I love my girlfriend? Is my best friend keeping secrets from me? And Is the leader of our group extremely manipulative and hellbent on killing other people or am I paranoid?

Roberts story focuses on the reign Valentine has over the Circle and how he persuaded a small group to go on a trip to murder a group of werewolves, as they might be the ones out of literal millions that killed his parents. On this small trip, his parabatai Michael shares a deep secret with him that changes their relationship forever. It was then that my fury overpowered and I wanted to tear my book to shreds! How he reacted to a tiny and insignificant piece of information was utterly heartbreaking. Although, it was a good parallel to Jase and Alec’s past relationship, which just proves that the younger generation is so much more forgiving and open minded which I loved.

As for Isabelle. Now I can’t give too much away because the ending to this story completely shocked me! All I can say is that she is rebelling against the Academy’s rules and taking Simon’s friends on a wild adventure to end their first school year. With this, she completely annihilates Simon’s trust and faith in her, and he must stand up for what he thinks is right. In doing so, he may get his friends in serious trouble but if he hesitates they could turn down a path of corruption and danger.

Pale Kings and Princes:

This novella broke my little heart! Helen Blackthorn is brought into the Academy to talk about how faeries are manipulative and extremely dangerous to the Shadowhunter race. The bloody Clave did this in spite, as her father and uncle were held in the land of faeries for multiple years, in which a member of the Seelie Court fell in love with her father while torturing her uncle. They forced Helen to speak negatively about her “tainted blood” as she and her brother were the product of their love, making them both half-bloods and shunned from society after the war (as I’m sure we all know). The bit that really broke my heart was that Helen humiliated herself willingly: she traded her presence at the Academy for a days grace for travel to Alicante to perform the wedding ritual with her fiance Aline. The Clave trapped her within the confinements of a shitty bedroom on the outskirts of the Academy, and if she tried to leave without permission she would be tortured by Warlock magic. The fact that the Shadowhunters are so afraid of a person who grew up as one of their, trained for her entire childhood and can bare marks astonishes me.

Although precious little Helen wasn’t the only key character, Simon and Isabelle also had a story weaved within. Isabelle surprised Simon in Alicante to go on an impromptu date as their last few weren’t too successful. This involved them riding to the city and going shopping for Simon’s first weapon, which is a rather sacred and special experience. Sweet ol’ Jase gave the suggestion to Izzy, but to no-one’s surprise Simon wasn’t the biggest fan of this idea, and took some initiative and chose their own special date. He took them to a secluded part of Lake Lynn, and let me just say it was gosh darn beautiful! I’m so glad they are FINALLY accepting the fact that they are destined to be together because I don’t know how much more teen angst I could withstand!

Bitter of Tongue:

I found this novella to be rather boring and uneventful. It starts off with Simon’s classmates going on a mission to stop a faerie selling prohibited fruits out of their allocated area. As you may guess, this plan doesn’t exactly go smoothly and Simon finds himself lost and captured within faerie territory. Poor little Simon always finds himself captured and imprisoned doesn’t he?! It is then that he meets Mark Blackthorn of the Wild Hunt, and the younger brother to half-blood Helen. They strike up a little conversation and Mark is bewildered that none of the Shadowhunters he used to call his own have tried to come save him from the horrible life he now has to endure due to the Claves banishment. It is then that he selflessly risks his own safety to help Simon escape from his cage. However, hearing Mark’s emotional words to Simon really affected me. Seeing how he was now compared to when he arrived at the LA Institute in Lady Midnight really shows how much he suffered, and how he really changed with the ever looming threat of punishment from his now family.

He managed to set himself free when Isabelle arrived to also assist him in escaping the Faerie territory, and when they leave they are burdened by the knowledge that Mark is trapped with those who punish him for his connection to the Shadowhunter world. They arrive back to the Academy just in time to attend Helen and Aline’s wedding which I found insanely adorable!

Now I know I said it was rather uneventful, but from what I just wrote it sounds insane, however, the tension and drama were resolved far to quickly and easily so it lacked something that all the others had. The main problem was solved before halfway point, and the wedding didn’t evoke enough emotion to warrant the choice of including such a large portion.

The Fiery Trial:

Alright, this one confused the heck out of me! Simon and Clary basically had some type of test to see if they were true parabatai which involved both drinking water from Lake Lynn and evoking hallucinations. I found the first half of this to be poorly written because I had no idea what was going on for most of the novella. I feel like further descriptions of both of their hallucinations would have been greatly valued and beneficial. I don’t want to say what exactly they both saw because that is rather spoilery, so I’ll just skip past that bit.

What I did love from this novella was getting to witness the precious little beans Julian Blackthorn and Emma Carstairs become parabatai. Clary and Simon were their witnesses, and it was a good thing they were chosen because they now know what to expect when their time comes! Anywho, Emma was her usual outgoing self and the talkative one of the pair and Julian was so shy and awkward which made me love him even more (although I didn’t think that was possible). What really grinded my gears was the fact that Simon could recognise that Julian loved Emma but DIDN’T SAY A GOD DAMN THING! If he could’ve just manned up and stopped the ceremony than they could’ve been in love, and gotten married, and have millions of little babies together- but no, he just had to keep his bloody mouth shut for once and ruin their lives!

Born to Endless Night:

I found this story to be far too long and somewhat irrelevant. This focuses around Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood caring for, and later adopting, a warlock child that was abandoned at the Academy. Magnus is hesitant on taking the child in as he never expected to have a family situation like that, however, the child doesn’t have anywhere safe to grow up. Alec on the other hand immediately gravitates to the child and accepts it as their own son, which I did not expect from him. I always found Alec to rather standoffish and didn’t expect his to have the level of patience and tolerance around children, but he just threw me off completely. The Lightwoods immediately portal over, after Simon lets it slip to Izzy, in order to help care for the baby, make their room suite reasonably safe, and to have lots of cuddles with the newest member of the family. I absolutely loved that although they all have their prejudices against downworlders, they accepted it as their own so much that they allowed the child to carry the family name (I’ve got to be honest, although I knew it was going to happen I got a little teary).

Although I loved learning the story as to how they found their first son, I felt it had a lot of unnecessary scenes and didn’t flow as well with the others as I hoped. Perhaps this information could’ve been saved and worked into Magnus’ own trilogy?

Angels Twice Descending:

What a satisfying ending to the entire novel. This novella showed, once again, that all Shadowhunters are extremely vulnerable to pain and death.

It started with some of the mundane students leaving the Academy just hours before Ascension due to the looming threat of danger, and the fear of losing their lives. This makes all the remaining students stress out, particularly the dregs as they need to decide whether or not they will go through with the life changing decision. After the news of his peers leaving, Simon leaves to think through his future decision but is surprised by Clary. She agrees to take him back to New York to say goodbye to his mother and sister for the final time, which was bloody heartbreaking! He then meets up with Izzy and they have some fun adult time, if ya know what I mean  😉

After his night in New York, he returns to the Academy to be greeted by his friends who were unsure on whether he would return. Georgey boy gets lucky with one lass in which we are acquainted, which I did not expect at all but I thought it was insanely cute! Now for the ending. If you read Lady Midnight you would know what George’s fate was, hint- it wasn’t good. Although I expected his death, it was still so gut wrenching and absolutely horrible to read. Simon’s reaction to losing a brother was raw and powerful and broke me down! As George died during Ascension, he was not yet classed as a Shadowhunter and was deemed unworthy to be placed within the City of Bones so he was buried at the London Institue with his ancestor. It was the perfect ending for George, and I’m thrilled Simon chose Lovelace as his new surname. It gave me the closure I needed and I can now move in without adding another thing to the list of why ‘Simon is annoying and so blatantly stupid’.

That’s the end of my rather long and rambly review of each novella, but I hope it was somewhat informative and helpful. Now that I look back on the novel as a whole, my favourite story was hands down Nothing but Shadows. My love for those characters is infinite, and I was so surprised to learn that much about one of our future protagonists! As for my least favourite, the title goes to The Lost Herondale. In no way does this mean I didn’t enjoy it, I just feel like it isn’t on the same level as the others for action and uniqueness: it was rather cliche and somewhat boring. I recommend that all lovers of Cassie Clare pick up this novel immediately! It is definitely on par with her other works in terms of world building and witty characters!

So what do you think of this review, and have I convinced you to pick it up? Leave me a comment down below and see you next time!


5 Replies to “REVIEW: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy”

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