Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Demons, Magic
Other Authors: Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennan, & Cassandra Jean
Pages: 528 (11 short stories)
Point of View: Third (Magnus Bane)
Released: November 11, 2014
Predictability: 4 out of 5 Stars (Where 1 is George RR Martin (If the characters make a plan or think about the future I know it isn’t going to go that way.) And 5 is Cinder (where I guessed what was going to happen long before it did, but it was still a great book.)
Magnus Bane is a warlock, meaning his father was a demon, so he processes magical powers and doesn’t age. His true age is a mystery, because he always lies about it. He’s the best character in the Shadow Hunter universe (Not opinion, fact) and we finally get to discover more of his history in this collection of short stories.
These stories had such potential, the world of Mortal Instruments, and one of the best characters, Magnus Bane. A bisexual warlock with crazy fashion sense, what’s not to like? I feel these stories would’ve been more successful as a novel, with a part at the beginning dedicated to his early life.
Because they’re shorts I’m rating them out of five stars where 3 is just okay, four is good, and 5 is made me giggle repeatedly.
Book 1: What Really Happened in Peru (***)
In the latest Mortal Instruments books we’ve been teased with the story of why Magnus was kicked out of Peru. This short story is actually a series of short stories. It would’ve been better as one story and mentioning some of the other events, because as it was none of the stories were very good. I chuckled a couple of times and I enjoyed Magnus’ warlock friends, but it was disappointing overall. (And in the end we never find out why he was kicked out of Peru!)
Book 2: The Runaway Queen (***)
The problem with tales based on history, like the Titanic or in this case Marie Antoinette, is I know how it’s going to end. It feels like one of Magnus’ stories, “That time I was in a hot air balloon with Marie Antoinette.” Sounds like it would be a fun story, no? Surprisingly it wasn’t. Too much time was spent on the set up and culture of the time, which had little to do with the actual story. There weren’t any interesting side characters aside from Axel and we don’t get to see much of him.
Book 3: Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale (****)
Set in London for the first meeting of the accords, (or one of the first) we meet Camille and Edmund Herondale. (This story really needed to be told from Edmund’s point of view as well, so it wouldn’t feel like he fell in love so quickly and his personality changed so drastically.) The characters were the best part of this story. Even the people we barely meet were great, like the mermaid in her tank who liked scones. On a very annoying side note, every instance of “fl” was replaced by “noindent” in the original eBook… (I’m so glad they fixed that)
Book 4: The Midnight Heir (****)
Tessa, Will and Jem return for this short story, set 25 years after Magnus last saw them. We first meet James Herondale, who is 17, drunk, and seemingly suicidal. It was good, but it felt more like a set up or a teaser for a book than a short story. I want to know what happens next! (Why would you leave Magnus, it was just getting good?!) Apparently the fourth series in the Mortal Instruments will feature some of these characters.
Book 5: The Rise of the Hotel Dumort (***)
Set in the late 1920s in New York where Magnus owns a speakeasy. No chuckles or good characters, but this was the first short story in this collection that felt like a proper complete story. (The best part was the tease about Magnus’ father. I wish one of these stories explored that further.)
Book 6: Saving Raphael Santiago (****)
Magnus decides to become a private detective and his first case is to find the missing son of Mrs. Santiago. Anyone who’s read Mortal Instruments knows what happened, but it was fun to see a younger Raphael.
Book 7: The Fall of the Hotel Dumort (***)
Magnus has been away from New York for two years. When he returns he finds a group of vampires in his apartment, but they look strange, almost sick. It turns out it isn’t just that small group but almost all of the Vampires in New York and they aren’t only sick they’re feeding often and leaving the bodies out in the street. We meet a couple of Magnus’ werewolf friends who are trying to keep things under wraps, but they’ve about had it. Predictable story and nothing special, easily skipped. (I hated the end.)
Book 8: What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything: (And Who You’re Not Officially Dating Anyway) (*****)
Alec is turning eighteen and Magnus wonders if and what he should get him for a birthday present. This story feels like the first Mortal Instruments books, witty, funny and just plain fun. I enjoyed seeing Magnus and Isabelle becoming friends. Also, I loved the slime demon.
Book 9: The Last Stand of the New York Institute (****)
Set in the 1980s when the circle is starting out, and the clave still believes them when they say they’re only killing downworlders who have broken the accords. When the circle comes to New York, Magnus vows to protect his friends and his city. We meet the young members of the circle Lucian, Stephan Herondale, and the Lightwoods. It’s nice to see another part of the history of the Mortal Instruments. I wish it had included more about the Uprising, but there’s only so much time in a short story. I enjoyed the ending with Jocelyn bringing a young Clary to Magnus and Tessa.
Book 10: The Course of True Love (and First Dates) (****)
This is the story of Magnus’ first date with Alec. I chuckled several times, it was fun watching the two meet and interact in all their awkwardness. Alec is a mysterious character in the main Mortal Instruments books, and it was nice to get to know him better, especially through Magnus’ eyes. I liked Magnus’ friend Catarina, a female warlock and nurse. She’s not in these stories nearly enough.
Bonus 11: The Voicemail of Magnus Bane (only available in omnibus of all shorts) (***)
This story is all of the voicemails left for Magnus after City of Lost Souls. It was amusing but all of the characters acted like they were drunk dialing. Many of them said things which seemed out of character or things they’d only think. Isabelle’s were the best, because she doesn’t really ever have a filter.
Verdict: I needed a quick fun read and these stories were just that. Nothing special, but still entertaining. The best part was definitely the cameos from other characters in the series, before this I never really understood what Magnus saw in Alec.
I realize I just did a short story review last week, but my reading slump continues. I’m not 81% into the book I started 10 days ago…
What’s your opinion on an expanded universe? Clare keeps writing more and more Shadow Hunter books, but she’s getting quite a bit of negativity saying she’s just doing it for the money.
I’d say as long as the books are good there’s no reason not to continue a series, though it seems like there’s always a point when a long series goes down hill. At least she’s using different main characters. I feel that the second half of Mortal Instruments wasn’t as good, but I loved the Infernal devices. I’m not sure how I feel about the short stories. I liked them, but I wouldn’t have paid $3 a piece for them. (I hear she’s writing another set of short stories this year about training to become a shadow hunter.)