The Adaptations of Cassandra Clare’s, “The Mortal Instruments” and The Multiple Perspectives in The Shadow World

Collage by Avril Maffei

Collage by Avril Maffei

Cassandra Clare’s New York Times best-selling series, The Mortal Instruments, focuses on the exciting journey through the Shadow World composed of Shadowhunters (half-angel – half-human), Warlocks (half-human – half-demon), Vampires (half-dead – half-human), Seelies, commonly referred to as The Fair Folk (half angel-half demon), and Werewolves (half-wolves – half-human). Throughout the books, Clare takes her audience on an exciting journey through the mean streets of New York, as Shadowhunters Clary Fairchild and Jace Herondale battle demons and uncover secrets that will change their lives forever.

These vivid characters make up the three different and yet moving adaptations of Clare’s novels:

Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments books are chronologically the third series of four in The Shadowhunter Chronicles, preceded by The Infernal Devices series (published August 31 2010), The Last Hours (March 3 2020), and followed by The Dark Artifices (March 8 2016). These various books are all a combination of stories based on the many generations of shadowhunters from the most prominent families in the Shadow World. These generations of warriors began starting with The Infernal Devices set in 1878 and the story of Tessa Gray, William Herondale, and Jem Carstairs. Which then ended with The Dark Artifices, set in 2012 featuring the story of Julian Blackthorn, Emma Carstairs, and multiple characters also seen in the Mortal Instruments series.

9th-grade student and Talon writer Sofia Zapata mentioned Clare’s writing as, “whimsical, intriguing, and exciting.” Sofia has read and recommended Cassandra Clare’s multiple books to her friends at Graded.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones released August 21, 2013, directed by Harold Zwart, is an innovative adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s first novel in The Mortal Instruments series starring Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell. This adaptation is a single reproduction of Clare’s, City of Bones, which was initially supposed to be turned into a series of blockbuster movies such as Harry Potter but was sadly never picked up. While the adaptation made a few modifications to the original book’s characters and certain details from the novel, it still remains true to the plot and dramatic flair in Clare’s, City of Bones

Finally, the 2016, 4 season Netflix/Freeform adaptation, Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments starring Katherine McNamara and Dominic Sherwood was an excellent adaptation of the original novels with the main purpose of serving as an outlet for those who are interested in the story. The TV series covers the main plot points and ideas, meaning they don’t have to read the books. Also, if you’re ever in Toronto make sure to visit Casa Loma! It is an old estate where they filmed the scenes involving Jace & Clary’s rooms! Ultimately, even if there is enough information to comprehend the story from the TV show, the original storyline from the books offers a more comprehensive and imaginative experience through Clare’s story. 

The multiple adaptations of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments are both innovative and entertaining ways to tell the story of Clare’s aspiring heroes and their journeys through the Shadow World. These reproductions, while different from the book and unique themselves, still maintain the original standpoint of the storyline in the series and how the characters build important relationships with each other. Overall, in all of her novels, Cassandra Clare inspires young readers to think outside the box and imagine that the stories of vampires, angels, and magic are true.

For all Graded students interested in Cassandra Clare’s many amazing tales through the Shadow World, her books are available in the Upper School Library!



“The Mortal Instruments” by Cassandra Clare