Book number 13 in my failing attempt at the 100 books in 2019 challenge is The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare.
I have admitted to being utterly biased regarding her books in the past but this was absolutely the most heart warmingly beautiful book I have read by her, even against all the drama and adventure. In the other books she writes these epic, all consuming, burning desire romances but this was about Magnus and Alec; about them discovering their love for one another. It’s sweet, its real and it’s beautiful. They are my favourite couple in all of her books because they are the most real. Set against the backdrop of one of them being a warlock, the other a hunter of demons and how this cultural part of their live clashes; makes it so much more than simply a young adult fantasy novel. Just like in Harry Potter, where the treatment of muggles and mudbloods is used to demonstrate racism, the effects of propaganda and people using their culture and upbringing as an excuse for discrimination. His love for Magnus is thrown in sharp contrast against the Law of the shadowhunters, which Alec (like all Shadowhunters) has been raised to follow religiously and their prejudice against warlock’s like Magnus, a ‘downworlder’. Through him Alec sees the other side to the downworld, humanising them as her experiences their lives and culture but the same is true for Magnus and his long held opinions of shadowhunters. It challenges ideas of deep-seated prejudice and historic systems in place that put a minority at a disadvantage.
Plus, there is the element of Alec becoming comfortable with his sexuality, in the same shadowhunter culture that is not so accepting of him that regard either. It’s the first book I’ve ever read that features a same sex couple as the main protagonists like this, as just two people in love, finding their way. Her earlier books paved the way for showing these kinds of relationships as the norm, in amongst her epic love stories we have Jace and Clary, Simon and Isabelle, Tessa and Will, in later books Tessa and Jem and then Alec and Magnus; just a natural part of the that list and, therefore, of life. As a massive reader of books in general and, more specifically, of the fantasy genre (more often than not, this falls into the young adult catergory), I don’t remember reading about any LGBT+ relationships in the books they had my school library. I sincerly hope that these books are sitting in schools and libaries now because teenagers need to read stories like this, it needs to be normal to read stories that happen to have a LGBT+ characters and relationships in them. (Sorry, I digress, I happen to have read this the same week as pride in London and it’s all gone right to my heart).
The reason I love the stories about Magnus and Alec so much is just because their relationship is so beautiful and sweet. The meet, they fall in love, they go through a rocky patch (like all couples, plus one of them being immortal complicates things), they have kids and they eventually are able to get married; in a ceremony that represents both of their worlds, after both of them fighting long and hard to change those worlds so they can be together that way.
This book, however, is set at the very start of their relationship, on the mysterious trip they took together after Valentine was defeated that we never really learned much about in the Mortal Instrument books. Ghost’s from Magnus’s long life come to the surface and it challenges the differences between them, resulting in an adventure across Europe, testing their fairly new relationship. Magnus may have founded a joke cult, which has since gone off the rails but he has no memory of the time in which he may have started this. The pace of the story draws you in teasling to the mystery of this cult, Magnus’s involvement and how it all relates to his father, a Greater demon the cult worships. Every step of this mystery helps bring them closer, despite the strain it causes as their different worlds clash. Even though the drama happening seems to prevent them at every step from getting the time and space their new relationship needs to grow, it actually ends up brining them closer in the end.
I loved it and I couldn’t read it fast enough, in the other books like ‘Ghosts of the Shadow Market’ and ‘Tales from the shadowhunter academy’, we’ve been given snippets of Magnus and Alec’s relationship, told from their point of view and I have always wanted to know more, as they were always short stories in the collections up until now. Plus, in all honesty, any Magnus point of view story is always brilliant because he is written with a very witty voice, he is funny and carefree but also intelligent, caring and carrying the weight of very long life spent coming to terms with certain parts of his warlock nature.
Basically, in my opinion, a lot of thought has been put into these characters and their story arc across several books, both as individuals and as a couple. It has so much weight and depth, it’s the kind of story that I myself, as someone who writes, aspires to do half so well.
(disclaimer, I recognise that my opinion is biased in that A: I do really enjoy this author and B: I am straight, so I can only talk about this from how I felt reading this book, this story might resonate differently for other people coming from other perspectives. By no means do I believe my opinion to be 100% right and I am very open to being told I’m talking complete BS here.)
Any who, I appear to be over my reading slump and I’m already powering through my next book, so follow for more books reviews in the ‘What I’m Reading’ category, as I make a last ditch attempt to catch up on my #100booksin2019 challenge!