The Shadowhunter Chronicles series is a collection of young adult books by Cassandra Clare.
There are six different sub-series of novels within the Shadowhunter world, as well as some short story collections and graphic novels.
The series exists in a universe where characters from mythology and fairy tales exist alongside regular humans (“mundanes”), and these mundanes need to be protected from the more fantastical characters by Shadowhunters, humans with angel blood.
With the threat of creatures like vampires, warlocks, werewolves, and faeries, the Shadowhunters have their work cut out.
Clare Cassandra began writing fan fiction based on Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, which proved popular and paved the way for her writing her own successful fantasy novels.
The series has proven extremely popular, selling more than 50 million copies worldwide.
It’s also been adapted twice, with a Netflix streaming series called “Shadowhunters” and a 2013 film adaptation – “The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones” – based on just the first book.
With so many sub-series, it’s difficult to know what order to read The Shadowhunter Chronicles in.
Thankfully, we’ve got the answers! In our guide below, we’ve got the best order to read all 22 Shadowhunter books in.
About The Shadowhunter Chronicles
The Shadowhunter Chronicles is a franchise for young adults that spans lots of novels, sub-series, short stories, graphic novels, and film and TV.
Set in a universe populated with characters from mythology (both Judeo-Christian and pagan) and fairy tales, each story in the series is about the supernatural conflicts between the Shadowhunters and both the Downworlders and demons.
The Shadowhunters are a group of human-angel hybrids, essentially humans with angel blood, while the Downworlders is the term for the society of mythological beings.
The Shadowhunters must battle these creatures, as well as plenty of demons, and they do so to protect regular humans – known as “Mundanes”.
Cassandra Clare Books In Order: The Shadowhunter Chronicles
There are a few different ways that you can read The Shadowhunter Chronicles.
Since there are so many sub-series within the series, you could read them in the order of each sub-series.
There are five (The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, The Dark Artifices, The Eldest Curses, and The Last Hours) and each has a few books.
Additionally, you could then also read the books that don’t fit into these. Though this order is easy, it can result in readers missing out on key terms, names, and locations.
Alternatively, you could read the series in its chronological order, with the period in which each takes place.
However, this process is flawed, because it can spoil the events of other stories, and the presence of prequel books can confuse new readers.
So what is the best order? The order of publication!
There is no better order for first-time readers to enjoy The Shadowhunter Chronicles than in the order the books were published in.
This will allow readers to understand new terms and details as they are introduced, rather than encounter them too late and unexplained.
This is the order we’re going to follow in our guide below!
The very first Shadowhunters book, tells the story of Clary Fray, a fifteen year old who witnesses a strange murder.
How strange! Well, the killing is committed by teenagers with odd tattoos and weapons, and the body vanishes into thin air.
Things get stranger, too, when Clary’s own mother vanishes and Clary is attacked by a monster. Inexplicably surviving the attack, Clary is introduced to a group known as The Shadowhunters.
They dedicate their lives to driving demons out of our world, and now they’d like to know how a regular human like Clary could survive such a foe…
- It’s the very first adventure in the Shadowhunter Chronicles!
- The ending is a bit abrupt.
Now a demon-hunting Shadowhunter, Clary Fray wishes to go back to her normal life.
However, she can’t leave the Shadowhunter world behind.
For one thing, it’s given her a newfound brother, Jace. Secondly, she needs to help her mother, and the only way to do that is to find her rogue Shadowhunter father, Valentine.
When Downworlder children start getting killed, Valentine seems the prime suspect.
Then, when a valuable Mortal Instrument is stolen, Jace seems the prime suspect for that. Is Jace helping their father?
Is their father really behind things? Clary must find – and fight for – the truth.
- The action is absolutely thrilling.
- It’s a little too long.
In an effort to save her mother’s life, Clary Fray is visiting the City of Glass, the Shadowhunter’s ancestral home.
However, it’s illegal to enter the place, and breaking the law could result in death.
Even worse, Simon has been imprisoned by the Shadowhunters, and Jace doesn’t want Clary snooping in the City of Glass.
With her rogue father Valentine summoning forces to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, Clary must team up with two unlikely allies.
One is a mysterious Shadowhunter named Sebastian.
The other? The Downworlders, the eternal enemies of the Shadowhunters. Can the two factions work together to save everything?
- The change in setting is refreshing.
- It’s not quite as witty as the previous books.
The first part of The Infernal Devices sub-series, tells the story of Tessa Gray. She’s crossing to Victorian England, where she hopes to find her brother.
However, she also knows that she’ll find plenty of Downworlder threats there, and only Shadowhunters will be able to keep them at bay.
Tessa is soon kidnapped by a secret organization, The Pandemonium Club, and learns that she is actually a Downworlder.
Not only that, but she has the uncommon ability to transform into other people.
However, the Club owner wants her power, so a hunted Tessa must take refuge with the Shadowhunters.
There, though, she finds herself romantically torn between two best friends: Will and James.
- It has excellent characterization.
- Some parts seem like filler.
Returning to the Mortal instruments sub-series, this story takes us right back to Clary Fray.
With the Mortal War over, Fray is back in New York and training to become a Shadowhunter properly.
Her mother is safe and happy, the Shadowhunters and Downworlders are finally at peace, and Clary has a boyfriend too.
Everything seems great…until it isn’t.
When someone starts killing Shadowhunters, it risks provoking a fresh war between the Shadowhunters and Downworlders, ending the peace and potentially ending everything.
Clary must dive deep into a mystery, finding that things are even more complex than they seemed, and the stakes have never been higher for her. She could lose everything she loves…
- The stakes are high and the book is thrilling.
- Magnus and Alec show up too late.
In the second entry in the Infernal Devices sub-series, we return to the adventures of Tessa Gray in Victorian London.
Tessa has found a haven with the Shadowhunters, but it proves short-lived because a mysterious threat known as the Magister is willing to stop at nothing in order to use Tessa’s rare powers for evil.
Pairing up with Will and Jem, Tessa travels around Victorian England on a quest to uncover the secrets of the Magister, discovering that the Magister’s war against the Shadowhunters is an act of deeply personal revenge.
However, Will has secrets of his own, and they could help Tessa to find out who she really is…
- Excitingly varied, vivid locations.
- Some descriptions get repetitive.
Continuing the Mortal Instruments sub-series, readers are back in the company of Clary Fray.
Clary is disturbed to find that a demon named Lilith has used her magic to bind Clary’s boyfriend with her evil brother, and now Clary’s boyfriend is a servant to evil.
Worse still, The Clave wishes to destroy her brother, which will destroy her boyfriend in the process.
Clary will do anything to save her boyfriend, but is he too far gone? She must embark on a very dangerous game in an effort to get back the boy she loves.
- Full of humor and heartbreak.
- Some characters need more to do.
The last entry in the Infernal Devices sub-series sees the villainous Mortmain on a mission to destroy the Shadowhunters.
He has everything he needs to do so, except just one thing: Tessa Gray. He soon abducts her, leading Will and Jem (the boys who love Tessa) to rally to rescue her.
However, Tessa realizes that the only person who can really save herself is…herself. But is she powerful enough to take on an army of evil?
It’s a battle that will involve plenty of love and loss and forms the thrilling conclusion to the trilogy of Infernal Devices novels.
- Tessa is a fantastic, strong heroine.
- The epilogue is disappointing.
This next entry in The Shadowhunter Chronicles is a collection of 11 short stories, or novellas, all about the life of Magnus Bane.
An enigmatic and engaging character from both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices books, these stories give readers a more personal glimpse into his extraordinary life.
Originally published only on the internet, there were initially only 10 short stories about Bane, but an exclusive eleventh tale was added when the novellas were all collected into a single printed book.
Readers can expect plenty of romance, excitement, adventures, and more across this wide range of tales.
- You get a range of adventures with Magnus.
- The stories lack strong endings.
Another fantastic companion to The Shadowhunter Chronicles series, this is an illustrated handbook that’s supposed to be identical to the one that was given to Clary Fray in the main books.
With this, readers can learn more about the Shadowhunters, and see exactly the information that helped Clary shape her own knowledge.
The Codex is the 20th edition, intended to be updated so that it could help young Shadowhunters in the modern world.
However, Clary and her friends still thought it was pretty outdated, so the Code is filled with sketches and comments added by the characters in an effort to update things.
- You get to read a text from the in-book universe.
- Some passages are unclear.
The final book in the Mortal Instruments sub-series sees darkness surrounding the world of the Shadowhunters.
Clary and her companions are facing the greatest battle of their lives, and it’s one against a deeply personal threat: Clary’s brother.
Her brother is going around turning Shadowhunters against their own kind, transforming them into nightmarish creatures with the help of the Infernal Cup, and building his Endarkened army.
How can Clary and her friends possibly defeat such an army? With a visit to the realm of the demons, they might have a fighting chance…
- A really satisfying series ending.
- Occasionally predictable.
Another collection of short stories, or novellas, this book contains 10 tales that were originally only published on the internet.
Rather than just being written by Cassandra Clare, each story was written in collaboration with a range of other authors.
The collection largely revolves around the vampire Simon Lewis, from the main books.
Suffering memory loss, Simon doesn’t know who he is anymore, so he throws himself into the Shadowhunter Academy in an effort to find himself again.
Across 10 stories, readers will follow Simon on his journey of rediscovery, learning about the Academy’s fascinating history and characters in the process.
- Learn lots about beloved characters.
- The Simon-focused stories are best.
The first entry in the Dark Artifices trilogy, this book is set five years after the events of the final Mortal Instruments book.
Then a child, but now a young woman, Emma Carstairs is driven on a mission to find out who killed her parents – and a mission to avenge them.
With the help of her battle partner, Julian Blackthorn, Emma dives into a mysterious demonic plot that stretches all over Los Angeles.
Complicating things further, though, is the return of Julian’s brother Mark.
Originally kidnapped by the faeries, Mark has been returned so that the Shadowhunters will help the faeries find out who is killing their kind.
- Diverse cast.
- Not enough Magnus.
The next entry in the Dark Artifices sub-series finds Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn sharing a forbidden love.
Emma knows that she should run, but doesn’t feel it possible when the entire Blackthorn family is under threat from all sides.
The only way to help the family is by finding a powerful spell book, the Black Volume of the Dead.
Everybody is after the book, but only the Blackthorns will be able to find it.
Emma and her companions must head off on a journey deep into the Courts of Faerie in order to find it and rescue the Blackthorn family.
However, with threats closing ever further in, Julian comes up with a risky scheme that would need the help of an unpredictable enemy. Can it work? Will it backfire and cost them everything?
- Multiple fascinating storylines.
- Some subplots lack detail.
The final entry in the thrilling Dark Artifices trilogy begins with a deadly omen: the blood of an innocent has been spilled on the Shadowhunter’s sacred stronghold, the Council Hall.
Meanwhile, one of the threatened Blackthorn family has fled to Los Angeles on a mission to find the origin of a disease that’s been killing off warlocks.
At the same time, Emma and Julian are still trying to find the Black Volume of the Dead, and have to put their forbidden love to the side while they do so.
However, the pair find a secret that threatens to tear open the Shadow World and pave the way for an impossibly dark future.
Racing against time, Emma and Julian must fight to save the Shadowhunters and all the world they know.
- Full of emotion.
- Some parts drag.
This is the first entry in the sub-series of The Eldest Curses, a trilogy that focuses on Magnus Bane and his boyfriend Alec Lightwood, following the adventures of the two and exploring their romance.
In the first novel, Magnus and Alec are going on a wide-reaching European vacation.
However, as soon as the couple gets to Paris, a friend from the past comes bearing deadly news.
The Crimson Hand, a demon-worshiping cult, has started causing chaos all around the world. Even worse, and stranger, Magnus Bane originally started the cult.
However, Magnus only started it as a joke – but now it’s anything but.
To stop his own out-of-control creation, Magnus and Alec must hurry across Europe trying to stop the Crimson Hand before it strikes again and causes more chaos.
It’s a race that will put Magnus and Alec’s relationship to the test, testing their trust and revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.
- It’s very funny!
- Some inconsistencies with other books.
Another collection of short stories, this volume contains 10 novellas.
This time, however, the stories are focusing on Jem Carstairs, as he searches through the Shadow Market.
A famed meeting point for werewolves, vampires, and other creatures, the Shadow Market is a place where Downworlders purchase and sell magical possessions, share secrets, and make evil alliances.
It’s a place that’s supposed to be hidden from the Shadowhunters, but Shadowhunter Jem has been coming here for two centuries, searching for a relic from his past.
Across 10 exciting stories, Jem will encounter all kinds of characters from the other Shadowhunter Chronicles books, and witness all kinds of spectacles and secrets.
- An emotional rollercoaster of stories.
- Some stories are better than others.
The first entry in the Last House trilogy, these act as a sequel to the Infernal Devices sub-series.
Cordelia Carstairs is our hero this time, and she’s a Shadowhunter warrior who has been trained since she was a child.
After her father is accused of an awful crime, Cordelia and her brother venture to London on a quest to stop their family from being ruined.
While in London, Cordelia falls in with James and Lucie Herondale, and enters their world of secret assignments and supernatural locations.
However, when London is attacked by daylight-walking demons the likes of which Cordelia has never seen before, the city is quarantined.
Trapped Cordelia and her friends discover a dark legacy of their own, all while Cordelia is hiding her romantic feelings for James…
- Great character development.
- However, it’s overloaded with characters.
The second entry in the adventures of Magnus Bane and his boyfriend Alec Lightwood finds the couple living happily ever after.
They have a nice loft, and a warlock son named Max, and the streets of New York are quiet and peaceful. Life is good.
However, two former acquaintances break into their apartment one night and take the Book of the White, a powerful text.
Their bliss is disrupted, and Magnus and Alec must rush off to get the stolen book back, heading to Shanghai on the tail of the thieves.
However, they first need to find a babysitter and find a backup.
With the strong backup of key characters from other Shadowhunter books, including Clary and Jace, the crew faces dark threats in Shanghai.
However, making things harder is the fact that Magnus has recently been stabbed with a strange magical weapon, and it’s caused his powers to change.
With Magnus’ magic growing unstable, the crew must battle demons and retrieve the powerful book.
- It’s great seeing Magnus and Alec become parents
- Less action than other books.
The second book in the Last Hours series focusing on Cordelia Carstairs finds our main woman very happy.
She’s got a great, new life in London with her best friend, she has a legendary weapon, and she’s been engaged to the love of her life.
However, is everything as perfect as it seems?
No. For one, the engagement is a lie, made only to save Cordelia’s reputation, with her fiancé actually in love with Graca Blackthorn.
Secondly, Cordelia’s legendary sword (Cortana) burns her every time she holds it. And finally?
A secretive killer is taking down Shadowhunters all over London, leaving no traces.
Cordelia, her best friend Lucie, and her fiancé James must set off on the limited trail of this killer, in an effort to save the Shadowhunters.
However, each person in this hunting party has their own secrets to contend with…
- Full of exciting dilemmas.
- Relationships lack resolutions.
The third book in the Last Hours trilogy finds Cordelia Carstairs in an immensely dark place, having lost everything she ever cared about.
Plans and loved ones have fallen from her life, and to make matters worse, she’s now lost her Shadowhunter powers because she’s been bound to Lilith, an ancient demon.
Cordelia escapes to Paris to start afresh with Matthew Fairchild but soon finds that London is under threat, and has to head there instead.
She arrived in a London full of chaos.
This is primarily caused by the fact that an enemy has revealed that Belial is the grandfather of James and Lucie, and now the Herondale siblings are accused of dealing with demons.
This puts Cordelia in a tricky position. Does she protect James, the man she has loved for a long time but has realized that her love will always be hopeless? Or does she instead focus on a new life with Matthew?
When Belial hits London with his deadly army, it separates Cordelia and her allies from any outside help, leaving them to fend for themselves alone in a city of threats.
Though our heroes may have plenty of secrets from each other and a relative lack of trust, they’ll have to put it all aside in order to find the courage – and the strength – to save not only the city but their families too.
- Extremely emotional.
- Occasionally slow.
The Black Volume Of The Dead (Currently Unreleased)
Though it’s unreleased, we know the latest book in The Shadowhunter Chronicles will be the final book of the Eldest Curses sub-series, with another adventure for Magnus and Alec.
Details are under wraps, but the book is known to be set during The Wicked Powers – which will be the fifth and final sub-series of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles and will act as the conclusion to this beloved book series.
- Sets up a new trilogy.
- The end of The Eldest Curses.
The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare is an enormous, and enormously popular, series of books for young adult readers.
With characters and creatures from well-known mythology and fairy tales, mixed in with Clare’s own creation of the human-angel hybrid Shadowhunters, it gives the author a playground full of pre-established threats that readers will love seeing: werewolves, vampires, faeries, warlocks, and more.
Across a range of sub-series, Clare explores the history of the Shadowhunter universe, with characters recurring across different series in exhilarating, dangerous adventures. Of course, there’s plenty of room for romance along the way, with forbidden loves, love triangles, and heartbreak thrown into the mix too.
For the best reading order, follow our article!
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s The Best Shadowhunters Book?
Everybody’s answer is different, but many fans love “Clockwork Angel” the most because it introduces the brilliantly atmospheric Victorian setting to the books.