A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is lots of fantasy violence with swords and knives here, including some that is gory, with fountains and puddles of blood, throat stabbing and cutting, etc. Also, there's some kissing. This is the start of a series that explores some compelling ideas, such as what makes a family and whether it's OK to hide a big part of yourself away from loved ones, even if it's in the name of protecting them from harm.
What's the story?
Clary goes to an all-ages nightclub, and there encounters Shadowhunters and demons, all of whom are invisible to everyone else. This encounter, and her mother's subsequent kidnapping, brings her into a shadow world of age-old warfare between the Shadowhunters and the demons, from whom they protect humanity. Clary discovers that her mother and her own past are not what she thought, and that she is intimately involved in a power struggle among the Shadowhunters.
Is it any good?
Teen urban fantasy is a popular sub-genre, and this first installment of a new series has all the essential elements. A city-dwelling teen discovers an invisible world of magical beings and monsters living hidden among us, and that she has a place and power within that world due to a past that has been kept hidden from her. It's the variations the author wrings out of the formula, and the attitude, that make the difference. Author Cassandra Clare doesn't go for the teen sarcasm and black humor (much), nor the hip urban cool, of some of the other members of this small but growing category.
Instead, she offers an intriguingly complex world with reams of backstory involving numerous characters, creatures, factions, and relationships. In addition to the various sides among the Shadowhunters, there are vampires, werewolves, faeries, warlocks, and others, each group with its own politics, powers, and agendas. Then she wraps it all up with exciting action told in vivid, occasionally melodramatic, but always engrossing, prose that sweeps the reader along and makes even the exposition fascinating.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of the book series. Why do you think teens are interested in reading a story with several installments? What do authors and publishers have to gain by creating a series?
How does this book compare with other fantasy novels you've read? What similarities and differences do you notice in the types of characters, their struggles, their romances, etc.
For kids who love fantasy
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.