The Lost Book of the White: The Eldest Curses, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Lost Book of the White: The Eldest Curses, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Shadowhunter spin-off loses momentum while fighting demons.

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Kids say

age 14+
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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Details on landmarks and recent history of Shanghai, China.

Positive Messages

Real strength and power come from attachments to others. Choose love over isolation even though it makes you vulnerable and can hurt you. Support friends especially through hard times.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In terms of representation, main characters are a gay couple, a White Shadowhunter (Alec) and a warlock of Indonesian descent (Magnus). In this book they are also adoptive parents to a warlock baby. They are both learning how to balance parenthood with their dangerous jobs, and Magnus especially is learning to rely more on his friends instead of fighting alone. Magnus decides to save his friend before himself.

Violence

Demon fight scenes with some gore (showers of flesh and ichor as demons are blasted apart). Someone is chained up and tortured with flying knives. Shadowhunters battling demons are injured, magically healed. Magnus is stabbed with a magical knife to the heart, giving him power that could eventually kill him. Plenty of talk of tortured souls in a demon realm. Flashback of a near witch burning. Talk that Magnus' mom killed herself and his stepdad tried to kill him when they figured out he was a warlock.

Sex

Gay couple has sex, described as passionate kissing and undressing. Innuendo that a straight couple is having sex.

Language

"Hell" and "badass."

Consumerism

Meeting at a Shanghai McDonald's.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Bar scenes in a flashback with drinking. In another flashback scene, Magnus smokes a pipe.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Lost Book of the White is the second book in the spin-off series The Eldest Curses. It's part of Cassandra Clare's vast Shadowhunters universe, co-authored by Wesley Chu. This series features the gay couple Alec (a Shadowhunter) and Magnus (a warlock), who are adoptive parents to a baby warlock in this book. Readers of the main series will probably remember when Alec and Magnus became parents. Here they have to leave little Max behind to fight demons in Shanghai, China, and in a demon realm with their Shadowhunter friends Clary, Jace, Simon, and Isabelle. They sustain injuries that are magically healed, and Magnus gets a magical knife to the chest that gives him power but could eventually kill him. Alec and Magnus have sex, but it's not described beyond passionate kissing and undressing. There's innuendo that a straight couple is also having sex, some drinking and pipe smoking among adults in flashback scenes, and as for strong language, there's only "hell" and "badass." The Lost Book of the White includes profound reminders that real strength and power come from attachments to others and that choosing love over isolation makes you vulnerable, but it's worth it.

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Teen, 14 years old Written bya_pan_inanna September 23, 2020

What's the story?

In THE LOST BOOK OF THE WHITE, the book in question is stolen from Magnus and Alec's apartment by the warlocks Shinyun and Ragnor Fell. Magnus is less upset about the book being taken and more upset that one of his oldest friends, Ragnor Fell, is holding his baby, Max, as a threat during the heist. And before the warlocks leave, Shinyun runs him through the heart with an ancient demonic weapon. There's no pain, but the glowing in Magnus' chest is worrisome, and his magic is harder to control. They need that book back in a hurry. It could lead a Prince of Hell right into our realm. And they need to find out what's happening to Magnus' powers. Alec and Magnus drop off Max with Alec's mom at the Institute, track Ragnor to Shanghai, and pick up four very famous Shadowhunters -- Clary, Jace, Simon, and Isabelle -- before opening a portal to China.

Is it any good?

While the characters are worth following to any dimension -- especially Alec and Magnus, who are adorably sweet dads now -- this sequel suffers from a serious lack of momentum. This seems odd, considering how much time readers spend in a demon realm, how close Magnus is to turning into a possessed demon, and how close everyone else is to dying at the giant hand of a Prince of Hell. Some of the problem may lie in how laid back the characters are about their dangerous jobs. More is at stake for Alec and Magnus now, as parents who may not return to their child, but this is only briefly touched upon. Even the Prince of Hell, Sammael, is pretty blasé as he metes out punishment in what should be climactic scenes.

Readers who love the long-running series, though, will be thrilled to see their favorite characters in the mix: Clary, Jace, Simon, and Isabelle. They have their own side dramas in The Lost Book of the White and will remind fans why they have been following them for thousands of pages, to cities around the world, to fairy lands and werewolf lairs and vampire covens, and even to hell and back.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Magnus and Alec's family life in The Lost Book of the White. How often do you see gay dads depicted in books? 

  • Lots of fantasy books and movies have immortal beings in them. How are warlocks here similar to, say, elves in Middle Earth, or vampires in every vampire series out there? How are they different?

  • Will you read more in this series? What do you think is next for Alec and Magnus? How old do you think Max will be in the next installment?

Book details

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