Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare

TSA_coverTitle: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy 1-10)

Author: Cassandra Clare,  Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman 

Genre: YA, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy

Published: November 16th 2016

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry 

Pages: 672

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

My Thoughts (contains spoilers, many many spoilers) 

Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy

This is the first story in the collection and follows Simon as he leaves New York for Idris, to attend the newly reopened Shadowhunter Academy.  

In this story he meets his new roommate, George Lovelace – who is Scottish, yay! – and a few other Shadowhunter trainees. I was actually quite surprised whilst reading this about how much the elite Shadowhunter trainees dislike Downworlders. Obviously, I know about the tension between both races, but because the TMI characters basically accept and treat Downworlders like equals, I completely forgot.

Simon still only remembers some things about the Shadow World, however his memories are slowly coming back to him, some being triggered by certain things. I loved so much that Izzy came to see him and proclaimed that he was her boyfriend – I really hope that they sort out everything in the long run. His roommate George is also growing on me, especially after giving Simon that pep talk at the end of the story and reassuring him.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Lost Herondale

This story roughly continues on from where the last short story ended, after Simon has been training at the Academy for a couple of months.
Simon’s struggling with trying to keep up with the other kids and he’s having serious doubts about being a Shadowhunter which made me kind of sad. I understand that he feels confused and angry due to the fact that everyone is expecting him to be someone that he doesn’t believe he is, but it’s still just a bit sad. 
Even before the best Shadowhunter trainees left for their first mission I totally guessed that they would end up in New York and Simon would bump into someone he knew. I feel so bad for Izzy and Simon, like all the time, because Simon doesn’t think he’s good enough. I just want Simon to remember everything and realise that he is great, but also to be changed slightly as a result of everything he’s gone through since he lost his memories. It was super nice to see Simon and Clary share a bit of a moment at the end of the story, when he remembers how much he loves her.
[Sidebar – how much of a douche is Jon Cartwright?!]
OMG. I need to discuss this “Lost Herondale” business because omg. Before I read this I was wondering what the title of the story was referring to, but I never would have guessed this. There is another line of Herondales out there that only a limited amount of people know about! I’m almost certain that we’re going to meet these other Herondales in later Shadowhunter books because I read somewhere that in one of the later trilogies we are going to see a Herondale that is not Jace. When I read that I thought it might have been that him and Clary had a baby, but now I’m thinking it must be  the great, great, great, great, great, great grandchild of this lost Herondale.
Holy moly, I am excited. 
Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Whitechapel Fiend

The feels are so beyond real with this short story, I can’t even.
For most of this novella, Simon is in his history class receiving a lecture from a guest lecturer. From Tessa! I actually couldn’t believe it when she strolled out and started talking about her life with Will and their family.
When we went back in time to 1888 and actually got to witness Will with his kids I got so emotional. Will is one of my all time favourite characters and just getting another little insight into his life fills me with so much joy. I also loved seeing how much Tess and Will tried to include Jem into their life, even though he’s a silent brother by this point. And Jessamine! She’s still an active part of their life as well and still helps them out. Aw guys, the feels are just so overwhelming with this story.
I actually found the whole ‘Jack the Ripper’ thing quite interesting – about how the killer was a demon child wanting to play a game and targeted women for that specific reason.
I was actually wondering if Jace had talked to Tessa yet, or found out any more about his family since TMI. I’m so happy that he now knows he’s related to Tessa and hopefully we’ll see more of both of them in the coming Shadowhunter stories.
How funny is it that even though Simon can’t remember what Jace is like that well, Jace is still being a sarcastic little shit and messing with him. You’ve got to love him.
Rating: 5/5 Stars 

Nothing but Shadows

This novella delves into the early 1900s when Will and Tessa’s son, James, is starting his training at the Shadowhunter Academy. James is such a relatable character and I instantly fell in love with him.
James is shy, introverted, doesn’t exactly have friends and is extremely anxious about starting his training because he will have to be around other people. It almost sounds like he has social anxiety. James talks about how everyone expects him to be a bright flame like his father, but he doesn’t know how to act like Will – how to be charming and command people’s attention like he does. My heart hurt a little hearing him talk – well, inner monologue – about all of that.
On his first day he recognises a few faces, like the Lightwood cousins and Matthew Fairchild. I need to talk about him for a bit because he is such a fantastic character. Matthew made me laugh endlessly, especially when he was abstaining from joining in on any of the Shadowhunter activities at the beginning of the story. It’s also super interesting that he always talks about the beauty of things and how he loves art, considering that Clary and Jocelyn are both very talented and artistic. Matthew seems like a bit of a jerk but then he turns it all around and we find out about how he takes care of Henry and is actually kind and loyal. I think he’s great and I’m so happy about him and James being parabati – I can’t wait to read more about them in The Last Hours.
I actually cannot believe how much of an asshat Alastair Carstairs is towards James, especially since Will really wanted them to be friends.
Holy moly, though, I was not expecting James to have a special ability! I did think him having those golden eyes could be a warlock’s mark but it just seemed so unlikely. But James can turn himself into a shadow, which sounds so freaking cool. This is going to give him a major advantage when he’s hunting demons in the future (or the past, technically). I wonder if his sister, Lucie, has a warlock’s mark as well and some kind of ability?
Another thing that really touched me was how Jem comforted James after everyone else started treating him horribly because of him being part demon. I honestly didn’t realise how much of a part Jem still had in his friends’ lives after he became a silent brother and I’m so happy to see that he was actively involved with them. James didn’t think that the silent brother was scary like other people did, to him, he was just Uncle Jem. 
I’m going to make myself cry again, I need to stop typing now.
I also need The Last Hours.
Rating: 5/5 Stars 

The Evil We Love

Holy crap, The Circle. 
I’ve always wanted to find out more about The Circle and what the people in it were like back in the day and this story was a brilliant insight.
This novella starts off with Simon, as usual, sulking over Izzy because she returned his love letter without even reading it. Then she turns up at the Academy with her dad because he’s doing some guest lectures that week. 
Robert’s guest lectures were all about The Circle and trying to teach the pupils about control and doing what you think it right but also how easy it is to be lead astray.
I almost couldn’t believe it when we found out that Robert nearly died receiving his first mark. From what we’ve seem of him in TMI you would not expect it at all. I even felt pity for him when he brought shame on his family and he realised that his parents had a limit on their love for him. And it was equally horrible that Robert then basically lost all of his friends and people actively stayed away from him. The Shadowhunters are actually super fucked up, I feel like these short stories are highlighting this a lot more than the other series’ have.
Anyway, then we see Robert at the Academy after he’s bulked up and has found a parabati. This is when we see just how much power and control Valentine had over the members of The Circle. I almost find it crazy, how much everyone looked up to Valentine and treated his word like law, especially during that scene where Stephen was looking for approval after proposing to Amatis. Absolute madness! Side note – there must be more to the story with Stephen Herondale. It seems weird that he would just drop everything, and everyone, he loved to follow Valentine. I hope we find out more about all of this in a later series.
We also find out that Valentine’s father was murdered by a werewolf, which makes a lot of the things Valentine did make more sense to me. Like how much he hated Lucian after he was turned and his complete abhorrence of all Downworlders.
Ok, back to Robert. It was so interesting how he wasn’t certain of anything. He liked his relationship with Maryse but he didn’t love her. He didn’t want to leave the Academy, grow up and have to marry Maryse and have kids. He didn’t know why he felt like that and always thought there was something wrong with him. I think I found this so compelling because he was never truly devoted to Maryse, even back then he would think about other girls – it makes his affair more believable and less shocking.
Knowing about Robert’s struggles with loyalty and love, it made what happened with Michael so much worse – the only person he ever felt truly connected to. Oh my god, that scene where Michael tells Robert he is in love with him made me so upset. I couldn’t even believe Robert could treat his parabati so badly! Especially since Michael is so kind and genuine. This whole ordeal also gives us a lot of insights into why he treats Alec so badly throughout TMI.
Right, back to the present. I’m going to be honest, Izzy proper pissed me off in this story. I know she was only acting the way she was because she was mad at Simon and was trying to trick some of the elite Shadowhunters, but still. She made me angry right until the end when she confronts her dad about his affair. I’m glad her and Simon seem to be sort of sorting things out now though.
I actually thought the scene where Izzy confronts Robert to be quite bitter sweet. Robert explains that the only things he has ever really been sure about and has always loved is his kids, and how he’s trying to change and be better for them. I hope after this confession Robert can work everything out with his kids because he’s clearly lonely and has a shed load of issues he’s been dealing with for years.
This was such an insightful story and I’m so glad for the extra information.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Pale Kings and Princes

I didn’t think too much of this story until the end, in all honestly.
At the beginning of this novella we find out about what Simon’s been doing on his holidays and how he’s basically messed everything up with Izzy. Again.
After this, Helen Blackthorn turns up at the Academy to lecture the students on how all faeries are evil and shouldn’t be trusted – which is something she clearly doesn’t want to do. It’s disgusting how badly she’s treated by the Shadowhunters because of her being half fay.
During Helen’s lecture we find out about her dad and her real mother – this is always a storyline that’s interested me because I wanted to know why Helen’s dad would have children with a faery. In this story we find out that Andrew and Arthur Blackthorn were basically tricked into staying with the faeries for seven years. Finding out about this actually surprised me. I know faeries like to play tricks but still, why would Nerissa have children with Andrew? Anyway, the whole ordeal Helen describes is horrible and makes faeries sound even worse than they already are after siding with Sebastian in the war.
Then we see Sizzy go on a date and it was absolutely hilarious. Why on earth would Izzy take dating advice from Jace? I AM SO GLAD SIZZY HAS BASICALLY GOTTEN OVER THEIR ISSUES AND NOW CAN MOVE ON. Ugh, took them long enough, amiright?!
The end of this story really threw me. We find out what happened to the Blackthorn brothers from Narissa’s point of view, which is a completely different story from what everyone else believes. Andrew actually fell in love with her! They were happy and started a family willingly! Narissa actually isn’t a bad person at all, she just altered Andrew and Arthur’s memories so they would believe she was. And then she killed herself 😦 I’m sure this storyline will come into play in TDA, or I hope it does – I really want Helen and Mark to find out what really happened with their mother and father.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Bitter of Tongue

In this short story we see Simon trying to challenge the status quo and the Shadowhunters opinions on Downworlders and Mundanes. He’s determined to do this and I absolutely love this side of Simon and this new need to change the way Shadowhunters think and treat others.
At the start of this novella we find out that the second year students have been leading small off-campus missions, as a result of them getting more responsibility as they continue their training. And, of course I knew something bad was going to happen on George’s mission because that is the only one that we’re hearing about. Sigh, poor George. Poor Simon. POOR MARK.
George’s mission is to capture a Faery. Turns out, George isn’t that organised and gets a bit carried away during the capturing part. The faery in pursuit tries to escape back to Faeryland after being found and opens up a shimmering portal. George wants nothing more than to completely his mission successfully and charges at the Faery. However, when Simon sees what’s about to happen he tries to knock his friend out of the way and ends up stepping through the portal. Another good deed gone wrong, Si.
Simon – as always – wakes up in a cage (has he been locked in a cage by every supernatural species yet?). This is when we see Mark Blackthorn again! What happened to him and his sister in CoHF really upset me, so to see him so desperate and wondering when the Clave was going to rescue him proper broke my heart. And because time moves differently in Faeryland it’s only been a few weeks since he’s been captured, even though, in reality, it has been over a year. This leaves a lot of open questions for him in TDA.
Mark admits that he’s basically losing his mind, he’s trying desperately to remember his family and is worrying that they won’t remember him when he eventually leaves the Wild Hunt – which he is determined to do. 
I love how, even though Mark has been betrayed by the Shadowhunters, he still tries to help Simon – it shows he’s an honourable character and I seriously do hope that he gets a happy ending in TDA.
Then Izzy shows up to save Simon, starts making out with him, gets distracted, and ends up locked in the cage with him. Well done Iz, well done. I proceeded to laugh ridiculously hard when she had a mini meltdown about the shame of being distracted by a boy. But they break back out and Mark helps them escape by distracting the other members of the Wild Hunt. As they flee, he proclaims that he is not loyal to the Fae and never will be.
After Izzy and Simon return they get to go to Helen and Eileen’s wedding! I’m actually glad we got to see this, especially since Consul Penhallow was the one who gave Eileen away and received Helen. We also see how Julian is still acting as a father to his younger brothers and sisters, but also that Emma is still by his side which is sweet.
Sidenote – I freaking love Marisol. Her winding up Jon is such perfection.
Rating: 4/5 Stars 

The Fiery Trial

I’m not crazy about this story, but I enjoyed it overall.

This novella follows Simon and Clary in a parabati trial which was really weird. They’re both tricked into drinking Lake Lyn water which causes them to have severe hallucinations. In these hallucinations Clary and Simon basically have to find each other whilst being in weird situations involving an alternate New York. I’m not explaining this very well but a few different people pop up here and there and Clary and Simon were successful in passing the trial, so they can become parabati as soon as Simon ascends. Yay.
After this, we get to see Emma and Julian’s parabati ceremony which is so awkward and aggravating in every way. It’s clear that Julian doesn’t want to go through with it, and that him and Emma are in love with each other. Although this was almost painful to read about because I roughly know about the whole forbidden love storyline in Lady Midnight, it’s going to be so interesting to see how this all plays out. This story has made me so much more hyped for TDA now.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Born to Endless Night

This story was so freaking cute on so many levels.

This novella starts off in Magnus’s POV which was great because I’ve not really read too much about him since TMI (I’ve not finished the Bane Chronicles yet).

We see Magnus being pretty badass at the beginning, y’know, just casually straightening the lopsided Academy with a snap of his fingers and making his room at the Academy more homely. Magnus is there to guest lecture for a few weeks and since he can’t be away from Alec that long, he’s there too.

We swap back to Simon’s point of view as well throughout this story and see him with his friends at breakfast that morning. They decide to go outside to train for a bit before their classes start but before they can even get fully outside the academy, they stumble across a baby wrapped up in a blanket on the front door step. This scene was so funny, especially when no one knew what to do and Julie was literally petrified by the sight of this baby – a blue skinned baby. The child was clearly a warlock and the note attached to the baby’s blanket read “Who could ever love it?”. This was actually really sad, the thought of someone abandoning their child because they couldn’t live with the fact that he wasn’t completely human.

Of course, though, Simon goes to find Magnus because Magnus is an adult and will totally know what to do in a situation like this. And then he walks in on him and Alec doing stuff. I actually laughed out loud when this happened, it brought back so many memories of CoHF when Alec kept walking in on everyone.

Anyway, Magnus and Alec take the baby upstairs and Magnus is thinking that they’re only going to keep the child until they can find a good home for him. This is when the whole Lightwood family, Jace and Clary included, all turn up to the Academy and are cooing over the baby and child proofing the room. I almost couldn’t believe this. Even Maryse and Robert were excited about the baby and wanted to hold and play with him. This scene, although it may not seem it, was completely beautiful.

Due to the prejudice and narcissism of Shadowhunters they usually don’t like Downworlders and to see how they were treating this warlock baby, a baby who isn’t even really their family by blood was so lovely. Everyone was cherishing the baby and showering him with so much love – really treating him like one of their own.

Then Alec and Magnus decide to keep the child. This was genuinely brining happy tears to my eyes, especially since it was never certain whether they would start a family or get married. And Alec asks Magnus to get married! This was such a sweet moment, and a sad one when Magnus was thinking back on how no one had ever asked him that before – no one had ever wanted to make that kind of commitment to him before.

Eventually the people in the room start talking about baby names and this was when the complete and utter acceptance really came into play. I’m pretty sure it was Maryse who suggested that they call the baby Max Lightwood, and then Robert added that if they didn’t want to do that, they could name him Michael (after his dead parabati). The tears were real right then. These Shadowhunters actually wanted a random warlock baby to have the same name as their dead child. This all showed to me how much the Shadowhunters have come, how much they’ve changed – especially Robert. Robert has been making a serious effort since his confessions in earlier stories and books in the Shadowhunters series.

We end up flipping back to Simon again, as we always do at the end of these stories and he’s talking about how he’s actively been trying to change the way Shadhowhunters at the Academy think – we already know this from earlier stories but now he’s actually admitting it. He also confesses to Magnus that after he ascends, he wants to try to change the minds of all Shadowhunters – he wants to stop the discrimination they have towards Downworlders and Mundanes. This is such a powerful moment for Simon, it shows his strong character and to be honest, he is probably the best person to try and do this because he used to be a Downworlder himself. This shows that Simon really is a hero, even now, even though he can’t remember the other amazing things he’s done yet.

I’m overly excited to see how Simon’s will to change things will come into play in later books in this series and hope that he is successful in his actions. Maybe Simon will even become Consul or Inquisitor some day because he’s trying to enact this change?

Little side note: Izzy referenced Star Wars which was so funny and perfect. Alec’s part of a supernatural gang which fights crime together in NY (lol, a manga or comic depicting some of these superhero like tales please, Cassandra Clare?). And finally, I don’t know if you really took note of this but it is mentioned that the Seelie Queen has vanished and there are some dark rumours as to why. I KNOW! SHE’S OFF RAISING SEBASTIAN’S WEIRD DEMON/FAERIE BABY. This is soooooo not going to end well in later Shadowhunter books.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Angels Twice Descending

The day has finally come. Simon and his friends are going to ascend and become real Shadowhunters. All of his friends are in the hall for the ceremony – Izzy, Clary, Jace, Alec and Magnus. Everything is perfect, and when he drinks from the cup all of his memories come back. He is completely whole again. And he’s finally a Shadowhunter, after two years of gruelling training.

Then it’s George’s turn, and Simon just wants him to drink from the cup quickly so they can go celebrate together and start their new life. Start his new life with his brother. But this never happens.

I literally finished Angels Twice Descending about five minutes ago and I’m still crying. When George started screaming I just knew, I knew he wouldn’t make it through. And then all of those ‘lasts’ he and Simon had been joking about were becoming a reality. George was too good, too kind. I wish it hadn’t been George.

Although I’m still so upset about George’s death I love that he’s buried in the London institute, and that he’s there with Jessamine – they have each other now. I’m even crying that Simon took George’s second name. Simon Lovelace, I like the sound of that.

I should actually probably jump back to what happened at the beginning of this novella, I just had to talk about George’s death straight away.

It was so good to see Simon go home and not say goodbye to his family, he’ll still keep in contact them even though once you become a Shadowhunter you’re supposed to cut all ties with your mundane life. I also find it interesting that Simon’s mum remembers betraying him at some point, but not actually remembering what it was she did – resulting in Simon believing that she’ll never do anything like that again. He mentions how he can trust his sister as well, how she understands him and would never betray him because she knew about him being a vampire and she never turned against him like his mum had.

After leaving his house, Simon goes for a walk around New York, soaking it all in. It only seemed right that Isabelle would turn up and he’d spend his last mundane night with her and they finally have sex. I love that they’re in a solid relationship now and will stick by each other. I’m sure one day Isabelle will become a Lovelace and I am overjoyed about that fact.

Ps. I’m also overjoyed about Jon and Marisol being a couple, they’re cute together.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Overall, I am so glad that I read these. They are a major must for anyone who has read the previous Shadowhunter books – this is also a must read before TDA comes out because things mentioned in these novellas will directly affect what happens in that next series. I absolutely love these novellas, another perfect 5/5 for Cassie Clare!

Characters: 5/5 Stars

Plot: 5/5 Stars

Ending: 5/5 Stars

Originality: 5/5 Stars

Cover: 5/5 Stars

Thanks for reading,

S xo

4 thoughts on “Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare

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