How To Read The Shadowhunter Series
I bet you can’t guess how many books there are in the shadowhunter series by Cassandra Clare.
About 18 books. 18 amazing, fun-filled electric novels with love, drama and NO ducks (inside joke for shadowhunter book lovers)
Perhaps you were recommended this series by a friend and are unsure where or how to start.
Here are the best ways, in my opinion, to read the shadow hunter series. But before we get into it, let me give you a brief explanation of what the shadowhunter series entails.
** Note: For the sake of this post I’m only including series/mini-series. There are several “companion” books that aren’t part of a series that revolves around single characters which I won’t include. Why? I don’t want to overwhelm you because this is already a LOT of books**
What Is The Shadowhunter Series?
I am so glad you asked that question. The shadowhunter series is a book series written by Cassandra Clare.
It’s about 18 books in total. The books revolve around individuals known as Nephilim (a mixture of angel and human). Their duty is to protect mundanes (a.k.a humans) from demons. The books have a lot of magic including warlocks, fairies, werewolves and more.
The Mortal Instruments (6 books)
This is the main book series ( set in the 2000s). It’s about a girl named Clary who discovers her mother is a shadowhunter (a.k.a Nephilim). Her mother gets kidnapped and Clary along with other shadowhunters she meets try to save her. This novel along with many others you will see has a lot of friendships, action and romantic relationships involved.
The Infernal Devices (3 books)
This book is set in the 1800s. This mini-series is about the main characters in The Mortal Instruments’ ancestors. The book revolves around a girl named Tessa who is kidnapped and is searching for her brother. She is not a shadowhunter though and instead possesses a different ability. Tessa along with Nephilim friends search for Tessa’s brother revealing a dangerous and dark secret.
One thing that is brilliant about this series is how the family lines connect. You’ll notice how traits in Tessa will connect to her children and their children after.
The Last Hours (3 books, as of 2020 there’s only 1 book out so far)
This series (set in 1900s) is immediately after The Infernal Devices. The mini-series revolves around the children of the individuals in The Infernal Devices. This book is difficult for me to explain because one of the male characters is the child of 2 characters in The Infernal Devices, so I’m not going to spoil that for you.
The book revolves around a character named Cordelia Carstairs. Because I’m still reading this book now, I’m still learning about it as I go. As of right now, Cordelia’s father had been wrongly accused of a crime and she (along with friends) is trying to make it right.
The Dark Artifices (3 books)
This series (set in 2012ish) is the mini-series AFTER Mortal Instruments. I haven’t read the series yet, so here is a summary of the novel from Cassandra Clare’s website
Los Angeles, 2012. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents.
Raised in the Los Angeles Institute, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian. As Emma hunts those who caused the death of her parents, the trail they’re following leads back to those they’ve always been taught to trust.
At the same time, Emma is falling in love with the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the courts of Faerie to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.
Alright, let’s jump into ways you can read the series so it makes sense and you enjoy it.
- The Infernal Devices – 1800’s
- The Last Hours – 1900’s
- The Mortal Instrument – 2000’s
- The Dark Artifices – 2012
This order is great because in my opinion it makes the most sense. You’re physically watching characters as they age and grow with their families.
This is also the way I’m re-reading the shadowhunter book series. I finished The Infernal Devices a few months ago and have moved swiftly onto The Last Hours.
I love having different reflections on specific characters and the relationship they have with their children.
The Way It Was Meant
When Cassandra Clare, the author, was asked how the books should be read. This is what she said.
- The Mortal Instruments (BOOKS 1 – 3) – The main Mortal Instrument series was originally only supposed to be 3 books, so technically reading the first 3 out of the 6 books could make sense
- The Infernal Devices ( BOOKS 1 – 3)
- The Mortal Instruments (BOOKS 4 -6)
- The Dark Artifices (BOOKS 1 – 3)
The Mortal Instrument series is a strange one. The first 3 books and last 3 books have 2 separate plot lines. Think of it like this, the characters “defeated” the villain in book 3 and have a new villain to take on books 4 – 6. Thus, pausing The Mortal Instruments and reading The Infernal Devices makes sense.
This is also a great idea because characters like Tessa, Will, and Jem (all characters from The Infernal Devices) are mentioned or make appearances in The Mortal Instruments books 4 – 6, so you’re able to understand who they are and their family connection.
I honestly don’t have much to say about this order. The books weren’t written in chronological order.
My personal thoughts on this is that Cass jumped around when writing the books because she had so many ideas she didn’t want to forget.
- The Mortal Instruments (Books 1 – 3)
- The Infernal Devices (Book 1)
- The Mortal Instrument (Book 4)
- The Infernal Device (Book 2)
- The Mortal Instrument (Book 5)
- The Infernal Devices (Book 3)
- The Last Hours (Book 1)
- The Mortal Instrument (Book 6)
- The Dark Artifices (Books 1 – 3)
This is probably the most confusing way to read the books. I guess the way it would make most sense is to alternate between The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments.
It’s your call how you want to read the series. My personal way of reading them is chronologically because to me it makes the most sense.
Which shadowhunter book was your favorite?
Thanks! Your post helped me a lot! I was very confused as to how to start this series.
PS: I love the aesthetic of your blog!