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Hello Hello! How are you?
I can’t tell you how happy I am that today is Saturday because that means it’s time for our next Shadowhunter Saturday post where we talk all about our feelings on the book we read that month. And this month is also special because Erika from And On She Reads has joined us for our Shadowhunter Mission and we’ll be reading all the other books with her!!
Disclaimer: The first part of this post includes a mini-review for The Red Scrolls of Magic, the first book in The Eldest Curses series and the 4th book in the order suggested by Cassandra Clare. For us, it’s the 7th book we’ve read in this universe because we hadn’t seen that the order had been updated.
There are a lot of elements in this book that you wouldn’t know had you not read the previous books and there are bound to be some spoilers, so if you want to read this series, then I recommend you go read my mini-reviews of The Mortal Instrument series and The Infernal Devices series that you can all find on this page.
At the end of this post you will find all of Erika’s thoughts on the various plot points and information we learn in The Red Scrolls of Magic, so keep on reading to find out! And if you head over to Erika’s post you will find Fiona’s thoughts, and if you go see Fiona’s post you’ll find Erika’s thoughts, as well as each of their mini-reviews.
Title: The Red Scrolls of Magic (#1 The Eldest Curses)
Authors: Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu
Published: 5th of May 2020 – Margaret K. McElderry Books (first published in 2019)
Format: Paperback – 384 pages
“Magnus had always had a wanderer’s heart. Over the centuries, he had adventured in so many different places, always looking for something that would fulfill his restless hunger. He never realized how all the pieces could fall together, how home could be somewhere and someone. He belonged with Alec. His wandering heart could rest.” – The Red Scrolls of Magic
All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation.
A lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who, against all odds, is finally his boyfriend. It doesn’t seem like too much for the centuries-old High Warlock to ask for. But no sooner have they settled in Paris than an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.
Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.
The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu is the first book in The Eldest Curses series and the 7th book that I’ve read for the Shadowhunter mission I’ve been doing with Fiona, and now with Erika since she joined us this month! As usual, I’m only going to do a short review of this book because we have a lot to discuss in each of our posts.
From the minute I opened this book and started reading it, I knew I was going to love it and that it was going to be my favourite so far in the Shadowhunter universe, and I was not wrong. We actually had until today to finish it, but I couldn’t stop myself and finished it last weekend because it was that good. This is definitely the book I’ve read the fastest since starting this series.
In this book, the main characters are Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood and I can’t tell you how happy I was that Magnus finally got his own book. You may already know, Magnus is my favourite character in the Shadowhunter world and this book absolutely brought him to life before my eyes.
I have no idea how I can explain this book without giving away spoilers for previous books, so I am going to be extremely vague and just give you my quick thoughts on everything. First of all, I loved the setting because we are no longer in New York or London, but now we are in Europe, starting off in Paris. Throughout the book, our characters travel through Europe searching for the baddies and I really liked that we got a glimpse at different settings.
However, my favourite part of this book was definitely the characters because we get an insane amount of character development and that was just what sold this book to me. I feel like in Cassandra Clare’s book, we are always missing that tiny flair needed to really make the characters believable and palpable, but we got that here and I’m so happy. I adored learning more about Magnus, his childhood, his many years on earth, seeing him do more magic, seeing him open up to Alec. I also didn’t really like Alec before, but now I love him. I love both of these characters. There were also intriguing side characters, but let’s be real, I just needed Alec and Magnus and was not bothered about the others hehe!
And finally, the plot was really unique and took me for a proper spin. There were a lot of plot twists in this book as is usual for Cassandra Clare, but I found that these twists were better than usual. The fight scenes were also a lot better than what I remember from previous books.
Also, can I just say thank goodness these chapters were short? I hate long chapters and have struggled with Clare’s previous books, but here it was so much better, I pray it continues!
Because this book was co-authored by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu, it’s a bit hard to judge the writing style as you can’t tell where one start and the other ends, but I really liked that because the writing was seamless. I found it to be fluid and very enjoyable. I also laughed out loud so many times because there is such great humour and wit in this story.
Trigger Warnings: violence and fighting, abandonment, parental abuse (past, mentioned), torture, death, cult, war, talk about loss of a loved one.
“Sometimes, love worked, past any hope of change, when no other force in this world could. Without love, the miracle never came.” – The Red Scrolls of Magic
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, this was such a great instalment in the Shadowhunter world and a series that I cannot wait to dive into again. I loved the characters, the plot, the backstories which really made the characters so much more real and alive. But I also liked the writing style a lot because it brought forward just (ARGH I CAN’T SAY WHAT)…. what feelings the characters have, shall we say…
I gave this book 4.5 stars, you can find my full ASPECTS rating below. This is the highest rating I’ve given to a Shadowhunter book and I think it fully deserves it. Also, let me just say that the ending is one you will not see coming and when I read it, my jaw dropped to the floor!
If you like YA fantasy with paranormal vibes, fighting, complex characters with sweet relationships, couples to root for, demons and warlocks, fast-paced writing and big plot twists as well as a nice slice of humour, then this is the book, series and fandom for you. I highly recommend it.
“We change the Clave,” said Alec. “From inside. We make new Laws. Better ones.” – The Red Scrolls of Magic
Atmosphere – 7
Start – 7
Pacing – 7
Ending – 8
Characters – 8
Theme – 7
Style – 7.5
Total = 51.5
This list includes some affiliate links. If you decide to purchase a book from one of my links, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK – Amazon FR – Amazon US – The Book Depository – Audible FR – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Scrib’d – Blackwell’s – BetterWorldBooks
Now I’m going to pass the reigns over to Erika so we can hear all her thoughts on the plot elements and spoilery events of this book! We have all three answered the same questions that you can find in each of our posts! If you have not read these books and do want to read them, I would advise you against continuing reading this post as there are SPOILERS!!
Here are Erika’s answers for the more generic questions about the book!
What was your favourite moment?
“Okay so this took me far longer to decide on than I’d like to admit (and a lot of bouncing bits off my husband who hasn’t read the book so was not at all as invested as my cat) but I finally decided on the night that Magnus and Alec spent talking and sleeping under the stars. It was lovely in so many ways, but especially because Magnus shows some real vulnerability in what he says. Alec has already started to be able to tell the difference between Magnus being himself and overkill Magnus, but the fact Magnus shows him this vulnerability, trusts him enough, and trusts their love enough, to share it, really warmed me. Also, when Magnus called Alec “my love”, I cried happy tears.”
Who was your favourite character?
“YOU CAN’T MAKE ME CHOOSE. I was glad to see more of both of these characters in this book, and it was really powerful as after their special moment in “City of Glass”, I had everything crossed that they would get their happiness. Magnus made me laugh so much and so many times, on a week when I really really needed it, so I’m going to say him. It’s a genuinely really difficult decision between him and Alec though, because although we meet some awesome side characters on the journey, it couldn’t be anybody else really.”
Have your thoughts about the series changed?
“I’m still working my way through The Infernal Devices trilogy in my own time, which, as I get further along, are just providing more background to the reading. It was lovely to see bits of crossover to Magnus’s history in these pages, and if anything, that’s just made me feel more invested in the books. I do think this was so far my favourite book in the series, and it certainly made me keen to pick up the next book as soon as humanly possible. I can’t wait to move on to the next book, and I really hope we don’t have to wait too long for another Malec moment.”
How do you think the characters developed with what happened in the book?
“I think they both really developed. They both became braver in ways they needed to, and they complimented each other to help that growth. Alec found the strength to stand up to his dad, to be more comfortable in being gay, and found the confidence he needed to do those things by his time with Magnus. Magnus, in turn, learned to let down some of his walls a little, to trust in who he is giving his heart to, and be sure that of all the awful things he might fear he has done, someone will still care about him despite it all. They had to work as a team as well as function as a couple, and they do both beautifully.”
What do you think is going to happen next?
“I really don’t know! Obviously the last page was jaw dropping on the OH MY GOD WHAT scale, but because this book was a bit of a detour from The Mortal Instruments, I’m not sure whether what we learned will come in to play in those as part of a bigger picture ‘big enemy’ situation, or whether we’ll have to wait until The Lost Book of the White until we see those plot points revisited. Either way, I’m excited for City of Fallen Angels!”
And now for more spoilery, in-depth discussions about some of the plotlines!!
Alec and Magnus in Paris – dining on a flying hot air balloon!
“I thought this moment was absolutely adorable. Magnus is so wonderfully over the top, that of course he was doing everything he could to show Alec he cared for him, aside from maybe actually just saying the words.”
Tessa is back! TESSA!
“I really loved that we saw Tessa, I’m reading the Infernal Devices series alongside at the moment and really love her as a character. So to see her having progressed from the scared girl we originally meet to a secure, controlled woman was wonderful.”
Did Magnus really create the Crimson Hand? Magnus’s missing memories in relation to Crimson Hand:
“I must admit I kind of loved that this turned out to be a massive prank that Magnus has essentially pulled on… himself? The missing memories made it hugely concerning, so even if he had originally meant well, what was really going on? It kept the tension building.”
Alec and Magnus in the Shadow Market The first real situation of Downworlder and Shadowhunter dating being something people object to:
“It was brilliant to see a Downworld situation described by Magnus – being a Downworlder – because up until now (in this timeline!) we’ve not had much of that. It made my heart swell seeing how protective Alec was of Magnus, but also gave me a wave of concern when it came to Alec and Magnus as a couple when people were so questioning of their relationship. I think it also educated Alec somewhat, helping him to see things beyond just Magnus’s eyes, and see how things might be taken by others.”
Travelling through Europe to defeat the Crimson Hand – Getting attacked on the Orient Express:
“Okay so I have always wanted to travel on the Orient Express, and I absolutely love that this signature train also had a Downworlder compartment. The fact there was an attack when they were just starting to relax was horrible – why does Cassandra Clare like doing that to us so much?! – but it also demonstrated how well they could work together for the first time. Although we find out later on that Alec and Magnus had paired up for Clary’s unity rune in the war, this is the first time we actually see them fight together.”
At the Masked Ball:
“I agree with Ellie, Magnus was so OTT with his costume it made me smile. I just adore him. The fact that Alec immediately is prepared to protect the Downworlders who have been judging him all night without even blinking says a lot about him as a person. Not as a Shadowhunter, but as a person. And I think that’s a very important difference.”
Magnus opens up to Alec (at the campsite):
“This was my favourite moment of the book. Magnus has a wonderfully care free approach to life – or at least, he pretends to have. Finding out that he might have started a world ending cult might have put a bit of a dampener on his spirits, but it’s in these precious pages that we finally get to see some of the things that have weighed him down over his long life.”
Alec goes to find answers at the Rome Institute and Magnus swans off with Shyniun, and Alec almost staying so they could go to bed, aha!
“It took all of his obvious years of training to make him leave the hotel room, and that was just hilarious. The fact that Aline was right outside the Rome Institute made me suspicious at first, and I wasn’t 100% sure whether to trust her. I also was completely sure we should not be trusting Shinyun when this happened, as she had obviously waited to separate Alec and Magnus, and although there were more surprises to come, I wanted to shout at Magnus to stay put.”
Shyniun is the leader of the Crimson Hand RUDE:
“I didn’t see this coming either. I was so annoyed at her. I mean, Magnus has driven her around, allowed her to be privy to intimate moments, and all along she was planning on killing him? That’s just rude.”
Battle between cultists, demons and the Shadowhunters:
“I agree with what Ellie has said above, that Cassandra Clare has got better at writing battle scenes as the books have gone on. This particular battle sequence was well executed and nerve wracking; I was fully prepared for Aline or Helen to die!”
Asmodeus pays a visit to Magnus and threat to Magnus about Alec:
“The moments in the vortex where Magnus is faced with his demon father left me an emotional wreck. I really felt for him. He knows he’s half demon, being a warlock, but it’s another thing entirely to be reminded of your father being a prince of hell by him standing right there, threatening your boyfriend. I was so worried Magnus was going to back away from Alec, and was hoping beyond hope that he would stay strong.”
Alec picks the right Magnus:
“This moment just showed that, half demon or part angel, it doesn’t matter; if you love the right person, you know them. And Alec knows Magnus.”
Alec lets Shyniun go:
“I think he’s always stuck so strictly to the guidelines and laws that he’s been taught, and now all of a sudden he’s questioning everything he’s ever learned. Not only has he fallen in love with a (male) Downworlder, he’s seen the consequences of the Clave laws in action – but not in a good way, because he’s seen them through Magnus. I’m still not sure I agree with what he did, but I do understand why he did it. He saw Magnus let Shyninu go when he stopped fighting in the pentacle, and decided to do the same.”
Alec and Magnus head back to New York – ohlalalala! Beautiful writing about their time in bed:
“Sex scenes can be cringey as hell if written badly, but honestly this was so beautiful it gave me shivers. The line, “He belonged with Alec. His wandering heart could rest.” reduced me to tears, as it resolved my earlier fears about Magnus staying strong in the face of his father’s threats, and I just want them to be the happily ever after that everyone deserves. I’m so invested in Malec now.”
RAGNOR FELL IS NOT DEAD! 😮 JAW DROPPED OPEN:
“Yeah I really did NOT see this coming. Of all the surprises in this book, this was the most surprising of surprises. Like, WHAT?! Shinyun must have got Ragnor Fell out knowing that Valentine was planning on killing him and arghhhhhhhh.”
This was such a fun post and I adored reading all of Erika’s thoughts, I hope you did too! I am really looking forward to us reading more books together because we have so many different thoughts and it’s really interesting to see what each of us thought about certain moments, plot twists or characters!
As I said in my review, this book was definitely my favourite so far and I can tell this will also be my favourite series (unless The Dark Artifices is even better)! I liked how this one wrapped up with a lot more that we know will be coming and that massive cliffhanger, I can’t wait to read more from this series and also the second part of The Mortal Instruments! I am sad that we have to leave Malec, but I am hoping we seen them both soon.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this post, see you soon, stay safe,