When a copy of The Red Scrolls of Magic landed on my doorstep I squealed in delight. I am total trash for the Shadowhunters books, and Magnus and Alec are my absolute favourite couple. The following review may contain spoilers for other books in the series: consider yourselves adequately warned.
The Red Scrolls of Magic tells the story of Magnus and Alec’s European vacation. In the context of the other Shadowhunter books, this is the holiday they took during City of Fallen Angels in The Mortal Instruments series. It was a bit strange to read about the couple so early in their relationship given that I know how their relationship progresses (as will anyone who has read the other Shadowhunter books), but that didn’t take away from how brilliant this Malec story was. It’s the Shadowhunter book I never knew I needed.
At this point in time, Alec has just come out to his family in quite the dramatic way (with that massive PDA in front of all the people), and now Magnus wants to take him on a holiday around Europe, starting with Paris. We get some insight into how family and friends have reacted to their relationship, and people on both sides are concerned for the pair and want to be sure they don’t get hurt. They are dealing with a lot of criticism as a Shadowhunter-Downworlder couple. Mainly though, this book is all Malec, and I definitely enjoyed this focus. They are so utterly in love that it’s both beautiful and a little sickening (and at times more than a little steamy).
We get a sense of how far apart Magnus and Alec are in terms of their lives and experiences at this point. That sounds so obvious given that Magnus is hundreds of years older, but I think in the later Shadowhunter books they’re so close and alike that it’s easy to forget the age gap. The events of The Red Scrolls of Magic force the pair closer together and test their loyalty to each other, which is both terrifying (they’ve been together all of about five minutes) and brilliant.
Magnus is amazing in this book: he is hilarious and snarky and I loved this side of him. I cackled aloud many times. Alec, ever the serious bean, is struggling to let his hair down and finding it very hard to switch off from being a Shadowhunter; that life is the only one he has ever known and it is all he has ever been until this point. Magnus is the only thing Alec has ever done for himself, so this is a big deal to him. He’s both desperate to and worried about getting physically closer to Mangus, but he needn’t worry about that because there interrupting demons everywhere. Of course there are demons, this is a Shadowhunter novel, and there is no way a child of the Nephilim and a Warlock can just go on holiday and have a peaceful break. Where would be the fun in that?
In a move that is so very perfectly on-brand for Magnus, he accidentally formed a cult. He has no memory of this, it happened many years ago, but said cult are now causing chaos and the demons are linked to this. So, of course, the couple find themselves investigating this and hunting demons on their holiday. It’s the perfect combination of romance and demon-hunting action.
We get to know some new characters. Shinyum was a personal favourite. She was super interesting from her first appearance. She has been harmed by the cult and Magnus feels responsible for her. He may not remember starting creating this cult, but he knows he must have. He sees her as his “dark mirror”, the person he could have become if things had been different. It was both unnerving and wonderful to see this more vulnerable side to Magnus’s character. For fans of the Shadowhunter series, there will also be many familiar faces. Tessa, Helen and Aline were some of my favourites, and I especially enjoyed seeing Helen and Aline meeting for the first time.
I just loved this story of the early days of Malec. You can definitely tell that Cassandra Clare didn’t write this alone; it has a very different vibe to the other Shadowhunter books. It is a brilliant addition to the Shadowhunter collection and I can’t wait to see what Magnus and Alec get up to in the next two books in this new series.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me a review copy of this book. Opinions are my own.