Magnus wondered if he would ever get used to being surprised by Alec Lightwood. He hoped not.Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu, The Red Scrolls of Magic
This review is another Shadowhunter’s book review and does contain spoilers from City of Bones – City of Glass (this book follows directly after City of Glass). So if you haven’t read those books, this review will spoil them for you. Read at your own risk.
The Red Scrolls of Magic follows Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane on their European vacation. The story starts with Alec and Magnus in Paris where they see two Shadowhunters fighting several demons on the rooftop. After a visit from one of Magnus’s dear friends, Alec and Magnus learn that Magnus accidentally founded a cult with his friend Ragnor Fell. While the cult was initially founded as a joke, it has now become deadly and has resulted in the deaths of many. Not believing that Magnus truly has anything to do with the cult, they set out to find the new leader and disband it. But, as the clues begin to point towards Magnus’s undeniable involvement the couple grows more and more frustrated. On top of that, they have to navigate the intricacies of a new relationship.
Alec Lightwood is one of my favorite characters in the TSC universe mostly because of how much he grows. He starts off in City of Bones as a shy, closeted boy who struggles with his feelings for his parabatai and by the end of City of Glass, Alec is slowly starting to come into his personality. It’s really interesting to watch his development and this book contributes to it. Magnus Bane is also another prominent character in the TSC universe and despite being immortal and seeming to never age, his personality does shift with the times. In previous trilogies, he seems to be mildly cynical and lonely which completely changes once he meets Alec. This book contributes to the growth of both of these characters simply by developing their relationship as well as tying up loose ends in TMI. I appreciate that Clare and Chu take the time to include intimate scenes without making them feel unimportant.
While the best part of this book is the relationship between Alec and Magnus, I thoroughly enjoyed the plot. I loved how the story was rooted in myth by exploring the relationship between Magnus and his father, who is a Prince of Hell. This also contributes to the underlying theme of identity that exists throughout this entire book. Magnus is supposed to be a child of a demon by the definition of a warlock; however, Magnus’s character arc in this story is mostly proving that his identity is not linked to his lineage. Magnus chooses to be kind and help others rather than use his powers from evil. When I first read this book, I didn’t really understand the point of Shinyun in terms of why we cared if she existed. I almost thought that the novel could go on without her. With this re-read, I realized that Shinyun is meant to be Magnus’s great mistake, even though they have never met. The reason for this is because Magnus essentially feels so guilty that Shinyun embraced her dark side by joining this cult that Magnus founded. If Magnus had embraced his lineage, he would’ve tossed Shinyun aside but by helping her, he cements his personality and becomes the person that Alec truly believes in.
I definitely wouldn’t say that this is one of the best TSC books. I acknowledge that it’s extremely important especially due to the representation of a gay couple having a normal relationship (well, as normal as a relationship can be when they’re fictional demon hunters). I just never feel like the first book in any of the TSC trilogies are the best. This book is mostly meant to set up the world and the villain for the rest of the trilogy and I have an inkling that the next book in this series will be a wild ride and I can’t wait to see what Alec and Magnus get up to next. I recommend this book for everyone. Despite there being spoilers for TMI in this book, the relationship between Alec and Magnus is important to normalize gay relationships in mainstream literature. Plus, they’re adorable.