What Really Happened in Peru | 1 Star | Not Necessary | This was my least favorite of all of the stories AND it's the first one in the book so I was deeply concerned about how the rest of them would go (can confirm they got better). This story is pointless and there's really no significance (that I could see) to the other books. I happily recommend skipping this one if you're pressed for time.
The Runaway Queen | 2 Stars | Not Necessary | This story was a bit more interesting and it's always fun to see fictional books mention actual historical figures (in this case Marie Antoinette) but again I didn't feel like there was anything here that really added to my overall understanding of the Shadowhunter universe.
Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale | 4 Stars | Necessary | I was so excited when I hit this story because I thought YES we are finally getting to the relevant stuff! This short story not only gives us a glimpse into Will Herondale's parents' backgrounds, but also features the original negotiations of the Accords, and features characters from TMI that are only mentioned in passing (such as Charlotte's father and Woolsey Scott's older brother).
The Midnight Heir | 5 Stars | Necessary | Yesss to everything in this story, from seeing Jem, Will and Tessa again to Magnus having to babysit James Herondale, King of Ducks (and who's a real spoiled brat TBH). We also find out what happens to Tatiana Blackthorn after the "worm" incident and learn about her adoptive daughter who's bound to play a key role in future books. This is a really good primer for Chain of Gold.
The Rise of Hotel Dumort | 2 Stars | Not Necessary | It was fun seeing Magnus get to run a speakeasy in this one and see the Great Depression looming on the horizon, but I honestly didn't really get the relevance. Some old warlock turns the hotel into a portal to hell, and that's basically all I really remember despite JUST reading it. I feel like you get more useful info about the hotel and it's history from the next story.
Saving Raphael Santiago | 3 Stars | Somewhat Necessary | If you're interested in more backstory surrounding everyone's favorite vamp, then definitely read this story. I forgot how much I loved Raphael, and his backstory is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming. It's nice info to have to round out the Shadowhunter world (and covers more pertinent info about Hotel Dumort becoming a vampire lair) but not anything that's especially important or relevant.
The Fall of Hotel Dumort | 2 Stars | Not Necessary | This took an unexpected turn, with vampires become addicts from drinking the blood of humans who were on drugs. It was sort of bizarre and I really didn't like what was done with Camille's character- it felt super out of character for her.
What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (and Who You're Not Officially Dating Anyway) | 3 Stars | Somewhat Necessary | Alec was never one of my favorite characters (I found him more tolerable in The Last Hours trilogy) so I'm personally not too interested in his and Magnus' relationship's beginning, but I did like seeing Magnus and Izzy's banter and how there was just a Fleetwood Mac loving demon in Magnus' apartment throughout the duration of this story.
The Last Stand of the New York Institute | 5 Stars | Necessary | I was not expecting to get a full on story about Valentine and the Circle but here we are and man was he brutal. Like, I can't believe he got away with some of the stuff he did in this story (and to other Shadowhunters, too! I was wondering why I wasn't familiar with the Whitelaws...) I also was plesantly surprised at how this story tackled some key issues of the time, such as homophobia and the AIDS crisis and subsequent paranoia and discrimination. I liked that we got a bit of a tackling of mundane social issues in the series and how the Shadowhunters' own prejudices can mirror them. Also, Catarina is a boss. We also get to see Jocelyn bringing Clary to Magnus for the first time and Tessa makes an apperance!
The Course of True Love (and First Dates) | 3 Stars | Somewhat Necessary | Again, if you're a big Malec fan then you'll of course want to read about Magnus and Alec's first date. It was sweet seeing them both bashful and unsettled in their own way, and it was interesting to see the tension of Magnus bringing Alec to a Downworlder restaurant.
The Voicemail of Magnus Bane | 3 Stars | Not Necessary | This was a fun way to end the book, with a bunch of voicemails that are left for Magnus after events that happened in City of Lost Souls (which I don't remember, oops. I take it they had a falling out, though). The voicemails are funny although not really necessary.
Overall: I'm glad I read this to gain more insight into the Shadowhunter world, especially during the post-TID time period and the pre-TMI period with Valentine. It wasn't my favorite thing to read but I'm glad I did so before reading Chain of Gold!
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