Ghosts of the Shadow Market

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Ghosts of the Shadow Market Book Poster Image
Brooding tales for those steeped in the Shadowhunter-verse.

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Mentions of landmarks around the real world in Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Buenos Aires, and Tennessee. Plus, some historical events discussed, especially the Blitz in London during World War II and the Great Depression in the United States. Oscar Wilde gets a shout-out in "Every Exquisite Thing," especially "The Ballad of Reading Gaol."

Positive Messages

Loving fully -- our romantic partners, our families, our closest friends -- and pushing through the terrible loss once our loved ones die. Also, the joy and fulfillment that comes with being true to oneself -- especially relating to LGBTQ characters.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Stories follow Jem Carstairs for more than 100 years as he casts off his immortality for love and family. He's barely human as a Silent Brother and becomes fully human again and able to love and support others. Families of all kinds featured: LGBTQ parents, adoptive parents, families with LGBTQ kids. One character, Ty, is on the autism spectrum.


Some gore described. Demons, werewolves, rogue Shadowhunters, and vampires attack: throats ripped out, a woman torn apart, a stabbing with a poison knife that almost kills, a few stabbings that do kill, some torture. Innocents chained in a basement, experimented on, with mention that some have died. A pregnant woman is poisoned and miscarries. Bombs fall during Blitz in London; talk of the loss of life. A young woman recalls her abusive upbringing of beatings and neglect. Another recalls growing up in a brothel, her mother being fed to vampires. Many stories of parent deaths -- often in front of children -- and how the loss impacted them through adulthood. Talk of regular mortals under enchantment doing horrible things, such as slitting another man's throat, putting out own eyes with hot coals. A demon wears a suit of human skin.


Passionate kisses with hints of more, never explicit, straight and LGBTQ. Talk of threesomes and hooking up with many at one party, of a brothel and a stripper.


"A--hole," "a--hat," "bastard," "hell," "whore," and "damn," all rarely.


Mention of the makeup store Sephora and some books made into movies like Rosemary's Baby.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An older teen drinks. Mentions of hookah and regular smoking. Joking talk of a very drunken party that doesn't end well. A character remembers his addiction to a drug that nearly killed him.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ghosts of the Shadow Market is a companion to three connected best-selling fantasy series from author Cassandra Clare: The Infernal Devices, The Mortal Instruments, and The Dark Artifices. You will need to have read at least two of the three series, including The Infernal Devices to know who the characters are and follow along -- reading all three is ideal to avoid spoilers if you are planning on reading the rest of the books at some point. Ten connected stories span from 1901 to the near-present and feature guest authors Sarah Rees Brennan (Team Human), Maureen Johnson (Truly Devious), Kelly Link, and Robin Wasserman. In this collection, there's some gore described as demons, werewolves, rogue Shadowhunters, and vampires attack: throats are ripped out, a woman is torn apart, there's a stabbing with a poison knife that almost kills, a few stabbings that do kill, plus some torture. Innocents are found chained in a basement with a mention that some have died. A pregnant woman is poisoned and miscarries. Bombs fall during the Blitz in London. Characters have some sad backstories, which readers of the three series already know something about: child abuse, lots of parent deaths. Recovering from loss is a powerful theme here, shared throughout the stories. Characters attempt to love and live fully in the face of it. Expect the usual passionate kisses and heavy focus on romantic relationships, straight and LGBTQ. There's also a focus on honoring all types of families: ones with LGBTQ parents, with adoptive parents, with LGBTQ kids. Rare strong language includes "a--hole," "bastard," "hell," "whore," and "damn." 

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Teen, 14 years old Written byTaco123burrito May 22, 2020
Teen, 16 years old Written byPEARFACECARROT September 24, 2019

Why is this book a good choice?

I have been stuck in this world for two years and have not yet dropped any of the books in the series. It is a captivating, juicy story that has an easy to foll... Continue reading

What's the story?

In GHOSTS OF THE SHADOW MARKET, Jem Carstairs, or Brother Zachariah as he's known among the immortal Silent Brothers, is on a mission to find a lost member of the Herondale family line. It's rumored that a Shadowhunter was raised in secret after his parents were punished and killed by the Clave and that this boy and all others in the lost Herondale line are being hunted by some bloodthirsty faeries. Jem/Brother Zachariah looks for clues and sources of information in the Downworlder shadow markets around the world and through time. In the process, he encounters other Shadowhunters in need. In London in 1901, Jem helps his nephew, Matthew, after he makes a horrible mistake that endangers his mother. Jem helps his cousin Anna fight off demons and impress her new girlfriend. In Tennessee in 1936, Jem saves a town from a greater demon and nearly catches up with his quarry. At a shadow market in London in 1940, Jem is stabbed and poisoned by a faerie during the Blitz and must find Tessa, his old love, in order to survive. He's in Paris in 1989, then New York City in 2000 when the orphaned Jace comes to live at the Institute with the Lightwoods. No longer a Silent Brother, Jem is in Buenos Aires in 2012, where he helps Alec fight against a corrupt Shadowhunter Institute with his wife Tessa. When he finally hears from the lost Herondale, he's in Provence with Tessa. This time his help may come too late.

Is it any good?

For avid readers of the Shadowhunter-verse, this collection offers connective tissue between the three main series and more quality time with brooding hottie Jem Carstairs. For all others who don't know every single character, their extended family tree, and their sometimes dangerous affiliation with Downworlders, expect only a few of the stories to draw you in. "Every Exquisite Thing" (with the wonderful Maureen Johnson) is one of them, because it does develop new characters and deals with the impossible situation of girls cross-dressing and falling in love in 1901 London. "The Land I Lost" (with Sarah Rees Brennan) introduces Alec's second adoptive son, Rafa, and shows the heartbreaking situation he's found in.

Jem's search for a lost Herondale does tie all the stories together nicely. But it also pulls the reader far into his loneliness and sad memories and musings about love and loss and what it means to be human. It feels poignant and meaningful for a few pages, until it's just too much brooding for short stories to hold.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Jem Carstairs in Ghosts of the Shadow Market. Why do you think this character links the stories together? What does he represent? How does he change?

  • What hooks you more in this Shadowhunter world, the relationships or the fantasy stuff? What does author Cassandra Clare focus on more?

  • Will you keep reading about this world created by Cassandra Clare? What characters do you still want to know more about?

Book details

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For kids who love fantasy

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