Book number 6 of the year was the Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare, the second in The Eldest Curses series. You can read my thoughts about the first book in the series here and if you are not familiar with the world these books are based on, you can get a good overview of the Shadow hunter world in this blog.
So, I love a little bit of Malec (Alec and Magnus, geddit?) and I love getting to know more about the Mortal Instruments crew’s lives but this is the first time I’m not really hyped about a Cassy book. It was just… a little slow and there was a lot of characterisation that was reduced down to stereotypical traits which were trotted out every time the character spoke, or when one character’s narration was looking at or thinking about another character.
A feeble attempt at summarising the plot
In this book we learn about what happened with The Book of the White after The Mortal Instruments series, plus, we learn about what really happened to Ragnor. In the Mortal Instruments, Ragnor’s house is discovered torn to pieces by Clary in her search for the book (won’t go into more detail because, spoilers!) and we learn that the Book of the White was in Jocelyn’s possession all along but it seems that Valentine followed the same trail Clary did until we learn in the next series (The Dark Artifices) that Ragnor survived and had been hiding out under a fake name.
This story takes places somewhere in the timeline around/ before the first book in the Dark Artifices series, Alec and Magnus only have Max at this point and he’s about a year old, plus, Simon has just recently graduated from the Shadowhunter Academy. It begins with the true story of what happened the night Ragnor faked his own death and why- one of the prince’s of hell was in hunting him down for information on how to travel between dimensions (Ragnor’s speciality).
The narrative then snaps forward in time to the ‘present day’, opening with an unpleasant surprise visit by Shinyun Jung and Ragnor Fell in pursuit of The Book of the White, which, it turns out, Magnus had hidden in Max’s nursery. We met Shinyun in The Red Scrolls of Magic, an angry, haunted and damaged warlock, whose very willing to give her allegiance to greater demons for more power and to watch the world burn. At first Magnus is happy to see Ragnor but becomes quickly suspicious when his old friend is acting strangely and displays unusual powers. Magnus is slow to act to defend himself because Ragnor has Max in his arms and so he is attacked by Shinyun, stabbed by a strange sword or ‘thorn’, resulting in a magical wound that would not heal. We later learn that the thorn grants a Warlock direct access to the power of a Prince of Hell and his domain but it also takes over their will and binds them (hence Ragnor’s strange behaviour and why he didn’t get he touch as he promised to once he was safe, as he had also been bound by the thorn).
In trying to track down Ragnor and Shinyun, the gang follow the lead all the way to Shanghai, where we get to meet some of Jem’s Chinese family, whom Jem eventually joins to aid the investigation. I love Jem, so please read The Infernal Devices if you are unaware of who is this beautiful man is! In trying to discover what this ‘thorn’ thing Magnus was attacked with, we learn that you must be struck three times in order to fully bound but that the process is irreversible and Magnus will die without completing it. The fairy weapons smiths they visit also gifts them with two ancient, powerful swords, decided to fight this particular prince of hell.
Their investigation leads them all the way to another hell dimension (I say ‘another’ because the whole lot of them went to Edom in The Mortal Instruments), where various things ensue but our intrepid gang prevail, as always… That’s all I can say without committing any major spoilers.
A vague conclusion
Overall, this was a good read, probably more enjoyable if you’re a fan of the Shadow Hunter world in general than you would be as a newcomer. I really enjoyed the sweet little glimpses into the Malec domestic life, to the struggles of having a toddler whose also a Warlock and Alec’s mom embracing being a grandmother to said warlock baby (this is very cool if you know of Maryse’s history with Circle and hatred for downworlders).
I’m on a real Fantasy genre reading streak at the moment and I’m also very behind in writing my ‘What I’m Reading‘ posts, so if you’re looking for some book recommendations, or reviews of those kind of books, stick around. Especially, if you’ve gone over to the darkside and gotten into #booktok lately- I’m making my way through a few recs from there.
I recently read all 15 books in the Skulduggery Pleasant Book series and I LOVED them! … More What I’m Reading- Skulduggery Pleasant Series