I am a big fan of Cassandra Clare’s book and the Shadow world, so I thought I would pick up The Shadowhunter Codex to learn more about the world. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy the reading experience much.
But let’s discuss the positives about the book first. This book would look great on your shelf, along with your other Shadowhunter books. It has beautiful illustrations (and beautiful end papers) throughout the book. There is also “handwritten” commentary from Clary, Simon, and Jace throughout the book too that I enjoyed reading. I love being able to read Clary and Jace’s interactions through their notes and commentary, and it was really nice to be able to see more of their personalities.
However, there spoilers for The Mortal Instruments in their notes (at least up to City of Fallen Angels) so I wouldn’t recommend reading this as a guide prior to starting the series. Which is unfortunate, because I kind of see this as a guide book that you should read along with the series, to supplement your knowledge about the world. But if you do that, you’ll either be spoilt, or you won’t really understand some of the references.
There were some really interesting facts that were presented in The Shadowhunter Codex, but at other times, it felt like information overload. There were bits that were kind of boring and dry. I think that the parts that interest me the most were things that I had already encountered in The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices books. Plus the majority of the facts that were presented in this book aren’t important to the story in The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices at all. Having said that, it was nice to be able to read more about the kinds of demons that appeared in the book, to see what the runes looked like, and to learn about the different types of faeries that exist in the world. (There are illustrations too)
The best thing about this book is that you can definitely read it out of order, because it’s kind of encyclopedia of the Shadowhunter world. I read it in order, from start to finish so that I wouldn’t miss any of the information but I found some parts to be very boring especially the history lessons. The sarcastic comments from Clary made it more bearable but still it wasn’t the most enjoyable reading experience.
This book is definitely not a must-have. I think it would be nice to have it in your collection if you’re a hardcore fan of the series. There are some great Clary, Jace, and Simon interactions in the margins that fans would really enjoy. It would also be helpful to have this on-hand to supplement your knowledge as you read the series. But only after you’ve gotten past City of Glass because you don’t want to be spoilt.