I don’t think there’s a single person in the bookish community who hasn’t heard of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Seriously, this book has been hyped for ages now and my thoughts at this point are a jumbled mess.
I’m not always very vocal about my opinions on this series because my thoughts on this aren’t something you can sum up in a tweet or instagram story. So yes, this post is way overdue and I really want to sort of share my experiences with this series and the tv show as well.
Now I’m already warning you, my views may be controversial so please don’t start yelling in the comments. Even if you haven’t by some miracle read and of Cassandra Clare’s works I would urge you to read this post to sort of get some clarity and information that will hopefully hep you make the decision of whether or not to read this author’s books. If you don’t have the time to read this post please skip to the end to at least look at a brief yet very informative documented series of instagram posts on Cassandra Clare and the allegations against her.
So let’s get started, I’ll try to keep this short.
My Views on Shadowhunters and The Mortal Instruments Series
My Journey with Cassandra Clare’s Books
I was in 10th grade when I first read The Infernal Devices series and I immediately fell in love. I was one of the few to be reading the prequel series before the actual series but this series gave me so much love and formed the basis of many of my friendships, both online and in real life.
The most attractive aspects of the books for me were the characters of Will and Jem and Magnus Bane. I was dying to read more about them.
When I then switched to The Mortal Instruments series, things didn’t go as well. Unpopular opinion: I absolutely despise Jace and Clary. They’re both annoying, idiotic, cliche and just get on my nerves in every single scene. And they were the main characters… yaay! The incest plotline was also extremely disturbing and honestly there were only three reasons why I finished the series: Magnus, Alec and Izzy.
Overall, I didn’t hate the series, I just wanted Clary and Jace to be gone and Malec to be the star.
Around that time, I began to realise how problematic Cassandra Clare was. There were, and obviously still are, many allegations against her and the ones I heard most about were the mortal instruments series being actually a fanfic of Draco and Ginny that the author had written on a fanfic site and oof course, the abundance of incest and its usage for plot twists.
I remember being pretty distraught and told myself that over time I would completely renounce the author and the series, even though I was invested in a lot of the side characters. I didn’t want to support someone as problematic as her. I remember starting to read Lady Midnight and abandoning it halfway through because of the conflict of interest. And fortunately, I did find a lot of amazing books to lose myself in and the whole Shadowhunters fandom took a backseat.
The Fanfiction Phase + The Shadowhunters TV Series
Even when I first read The Infernal Devices series I used to read some Wattpad fanfics in the fandom but I honestly don’t remember how I discovered Archive Of Our Own, better know as AO3.
Sometime after my so called renouncement of CC, I found myself knee deep in Malec fanfictions. For those of you who haven’t read the series, Malec is the ship name for Magnus and Alec, a cannonically gay pairing. Like many others, Malec was the first LGBTQ couple I had read about and I desperately wanted to cling to them. And the fanfics gave me an answer.
Those were days when I wanted to forget that CC created these characters and instead immerse myself in the wonderful stories woven around them by the fanfic writers. Honest to god, I must have spent hours each day reading pages and pages of fanfics and at one point I started writing my own as well. The point is, I fell in love with these characters all over again, more strongly than ever.
Looking back, here’s what happened.
Since CC focused all of her energy on Jace and Clary and their ridiculous adventures, the side characters were quite two-dimensional. Likeable, but still, they didn’t have a lot of substance to them. But fanfic writers gave them a life of their own and I would heavily argue that in a way they recreated the characters, giving them qualities and personalities that were so much more than the original source material. In fact, some of them even made Clary and Jace bearable for me to read.
A lot of people say that Isabelle Lightwood is written out to be a cardboard cut out of a badass fighting girl and Simon is your typical nerd and I absolutely agree. But the thing is, I love the versions of these characters that have been given a much three dimensional arc in fanfics.
And then came the tv show. I mean, it was already there but then I stumbled upon them. I know, a lot of people aren’t able to get past the first few episodes or the first season and I get why. Clary and Jace are annoying, some of the actors are overacting and well, the plot isn’t perfect. That’s the thing though, the first season was written close to the plot with Cassandra Clare being somewhat involved with it. After season 1, she renounced the show and publicly went on to shame it and disassociate her work from it.
So from S2, the show majorly follows its own plot-line and oh my god it’s so much better. What I love the most is that Clary and Jcae aren’t the only characters in there. Other characters have their own plots?? An actual personality?? AND OH MY GOD MALEC. Both Magnus and Alec play a major role in the series with Magnus being a freewheeling bisexual and Alec being a closeted (for the first part) gay guy. As a couple, they receive so much more screen-time and I just feel the show did the characters great justice.
Which is why I absolutely adore the show and the fanfics based off Shadowhunters.
Separating the Art form the Artist?
I am a very firm believer that you simply cannot separate the art from the artist. An artist’s work reflects their personality and the values and beliefs they hold. Not only that, if you advocate and support their work, they get the money. They get the fame. You’re inadvertently supporting them.
So that’s the reason I absolutely don’t support Cassandra Clare or any of er works. I’ve never bought copies of her work nor do I intend to. I still have a certain nostalgia attached to The Infernal Devices series and it’s characters and even though I believe that was her better writing, I never actively recommend or advertise those books. Last year, I read one of her recent malec focused books and it was honestly trash. I’ve read better written fanfictions.
I still love and adore Malec and some characters like Izzy, Maia and SImon but I support and love them on behalf of the show, Shadowhunters, which I love making others watch. More than that, I love the fanfiction versions of these characters that exist in the fandom.
If you support The Mortal Instruments series or the author, Cassandra Clare, I urge you to gather more information and think over what you’re doing. Is your nostalgia really worth all the damage and hurt the author has been and continues to cause? (In a couple of minutes I’ll be listing exactly what all CC has been up to).
As a reader, it’s our duty to be responsible and read responsibly. I know, this is a hard choice and I’m not saying you immediately have to start hating Cassandra Clare or throwing out her books. It’s taken me like three years to form my current stance, something I fell pretty confident in. You ‘ll get there, what matters is that you take a step to open your eyes and inform yourself.
Feel free to talk to me in the comments about this.
WHY IS CASSANDRA CLARE PROBLEMATIC?
This is the part where I keep my emotions aside and tell you all the ways in which Cassandra Clare is problematic. Which is why I won’t be doing the talking.
Bookish You Should Know is an Instagram account run by Camryn who compiles things everyone needs to know about the bookish community, including problematic series. I’m attaching her series of posts on Cassandra Clare which are detailed and informative so please do go through them.
If for some reason, you don’t have the time to go through those posts (I mean it’s a pandemic quarantine, I’m sure you have this much time), I’m just going to list down the points of these posts and you can read about them in detail by clicking on the instagram posts.
CC was a big name in the Harry Potter fandom and she wrote The Draco Trilogy and Mortal Instruments (which later morphed into the bestseller series The Mortal Instruments). The latter was about an incestuous relationship between Ginny and Ron.
CC used a lot of plagiarism in her fanfics, lifting entire conversations and paragraphs from published books without even mentioning them. Calling her out was useless and through her lawyer friend, she harassed many fans who dared to speak against her.
CC started raising money for her stolen laptop and said part of it would go ta a charity. This was all very vague and divvisive comments poured in especially when no proof was given of the donations.
There are allegations from her fanfic readers that her book series is basically her fanfictions, if not word to word then definitely similar in plot and dialogues. When The Mortal Instruments grew popular it faced a plagiarism lawsuit from Sherrilyn Keynon, author of Dark Hunters and Cassie argued that everyone hated her because she’s Jewish.
This post is basically a list of all the problematic things CC has done after becoming the ‘queen of YA’ with screenshots and proof.
I’ll be honest, Cassandra Clare is yet another problematic author like J.K Rowling except her books aren’t even at the level that Harry Potter is. I can only hope that the bookish community withdraws their support for her sometime in the future. I don’t know how much more proof you need but she’s toxic. Please don’t support her.
If you want to read books with magical worlds, adventure and amazing characters I’ve made a short list of books by BIPOC authors you can support 🙂
5 Fantasy Books by BIPOC Authhors to Read Instead of the Shadowhunter Chronicles
Hunted By The Sky by Tanaz Bhathena
Want a badass female character like Izzy? I’ll give you four in this book. This book is about royalty and revenge and magic and love as Gul tries to harness her magic and take revenge on the royal kingdom for her parents’ murder. Check it out on Goodreads.
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Here are some family dynamics and plotlines way better than the Shadowhunters. When her father dies, Hesina is convinced he was murdered and dives into outlawed magic and criminals to investigate the death while trying to run the kingdom. Check it out on Goodreads.
Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
This book has so much action, training, fighting, weapons and demons – it will definitely leave CC’s world in dust. A story of competition, dismantling a cruel kingdom, monsters and rebellion based on Japanese mythology, this book will not disappoint you in any way. I love to pitch it as mythological fantasy hunger games so please check it out on Goodreads
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
A magic system and a kingdom to overthrow with an enemies to lovers romance and found family that will absolutely melt your heart. I just love the writing style of this book and the plot is so well written and the character development gives me life. Go check it out on Goodreads!
We Hunt the Flame by Hafzah Faisal
This book has my entire heart and soul. Badass females? Check. Amazing fighting? Check. Antihero? Check. Sassy character? Check. Adventure and romance? DOUBLE CHECK. This book has everything you could possibly want!! Check it out on Goodreads 🙂