This recap was written and submitted by the lovely and wonderful Amy of Tripping Over Books. *applause
It’s Victorian London, and Tessa Gray is a teenage American orphan from New York who travels to the English capital after the death of her aunt to live with her older brother, Nate. Except when she gets to London, Nate is nowhere to be found and she finds herself drawn irrevocably into the world of Shadowhunters and demons when she eventually goes to live in the London Institute. There are boys there: James Carstairs, a sickly, silver-haired sweetheart from Shanghai, and Will Herondale, a broody, sarcastic Welsh hottie. Tessa finds out she has the ability to shapeshift (uncommon), and that her brother has been in league with the bad guy the whole time. Oh, also, the bad guy wants to take over the British Empire with clockwork creatures and has an unspecified but creepy need for Tessa and her “gift.”
what went down
- In the prologue, we meet Will Herondale and James (Jem) Carstairs. The two of them find a dead body, next to a dagger with an ourobouros on it, and muse about how they think the girl was stabbed, not killed by a demon, and about what kinds of damage human people who dabble in the occult could do to their world. A Shadowhunter investigation ensues.
- Also in the prologue, Tessa arrives in London expecting to meet her brother Nate. When she disembarks from her boat, however, she is met by these CREEPY old ladies who assure her that Nate has sent them to retrieve her, and that he is waiting for her at their home. They produce a letter from Nate, who tells Tessa that this whole pick-up operation is legit, so Tessa goes with them.
- It’s now Chapter 1–6 weeks after the events of the prologue–and Tessa’s pick up turns out to NOT be legit. The old ladies–the Dark Sisters–are warlocks, and they are keeping Tessa hostage while they train her in this dark ability that Tessa didn’t even know she had: she can shape shift into ANYONE. Dead, alive, doesn’t matter. All she needs is to hold something that belonged to them and POOF! The Dark Sisters are apparently training Tessa to be ready for someone called the Magister, who is their boss. He wants to marry Tessa.
- Tessa eventually springs out of the Dark Sister’s home, but is recaptured by their servants, who it turns out are automatons. After Tessa’s attempted breakout, there’s a Shadowhunter showdown at the Dark Sister’s home, where Will rescues Tessa and brings her back to the Institute. Turns out the investigation from the prologue led the Shadowhunters to the Dark Sisters, and it’s still ongoing.
- At the Institute, we meet the de facto head, Charlotte Branwell, who promises to help Tessa find her brother. There’s also Henry, her bumbling, quirk-pot husband; Jessamine, a bratty mean girl who IS a Shadowhunter but hates them; and Tessa meets Jem. Tessa eventually shows them all that she can shapeshift.
- The investigation into the clockwork creatures leads to a place called the Pandemonuim Club, a sort of hangout for mundanes who dabble in magical stuff, and it’s shady. Turns out that Tessa’s brother, Nate, has been seen there recently.
- The Shadowhunters find out that Nate had been working for a wealthy tea merchant named Axel Mortmain, and Charlotte and her husband, Henry, pay him a visit to gather info. Mortmain gives them lots of background info on Nate and Tessa’s family, and Charlotte and Henry discover that Mortmain has also made some cash money making gears and cogs and other such parts recovered at the Dark Sister’s house. THE PLOT IS THICKENING NOW.
- The Shadowhunters eventually find out that the vampire de Quincey, the head of London vamps, is the head of the Pandemonium Club and has been flouting the Accords behind the Clave’s back despite pretending to be an ally. We meet a vampire named Camille Belcourt, who tells them that DeQuincy holds these crazy parties at his house where vamps feed on humans–a no-no. She offers to let Tessa shift into her so that she can attend one of these parties to see what’s up. The Shadowhunters all agree to stage an ambush at the next party, one, to get Nate if he’s there, and two, to expose de Quincey as a law-breaker.
- Will and Tessa-as-Camille go to the vamp party. Nate is there as the main course. de Quincey renounces the Accords, says the Clave and Shadowhunters are the worst, and gets ready to chow down on Nate. The other vamps at the party are in a frenzy. The Shadowhunters show up, busting through windows and doors. THERE IS MAYHEM.
- Tessa-as-Camille frees Nate, and the other Shadowhunters wind up killing all the vampires except de Quincey, who escapes. the Shadowhunters bring Nate back to the Institute, where he raves about not wanting to die and asking whether or not “he” knows Nate is with the Shadowhunters.
- During the vampire melee, Will drinks some vampire blood. He needs to purge it out of his system by CHUGGING tons of holy water. He’s being a pain in the arse about it. When Tessa goes in to help him, they wind up making out instead and it’s pretty H-O-T hot. But because Will is mercurial and kind of emo, he pushes Tessa away and tells her to leave. She’s humiliated but confused. She totally thinks Will is hot and broken.
- Tessa and Jem are becoming good friends. She still knows very little about WTF is going on with Jem’s sickness, but their friendship is growing.
- Tessa and Jem go on a walk together, where they talk a little bit about Will and what makes him tick. Then they are attacked by automatons who chase them back to the Institute. Jem is wounded and the automatons are eventually run off.
- Jem tells Tessa the whole deal about his sickness: he was living with his parents–English dad, Chinese mom–in Shanghai when they were tortured and murdered by a demon. Part of the demon’s torture was to make their son addicted to a demon drug by slowly dosing him with it until he was near death. Now, Jem is addicted to this drug, which is what made his hair and eyes silver, and he must take small doses of it at random intervals to stave off his own death, for if he stops taking the drug altogether, he’ll die. But there is no cure for being addicted to this drug either, and so he will eventually die from his drug use anyway. So for real: Jem is dying.
- Nate is now well enough to give everyone a recap of what he’s been up to since he came to London, met Mortmain, and got involved with the Pandemonium Club. Nate found out from de Quincey that Tessa had a gift; that one of his mother’s children was special.
- Turns out that Nate drew Tessa to London at the behest of de Quincey, whom Nate says is the Magister. He also says that de Quincey has been building an automaton army to take out the Enclave, and that he’s using warlocks like the Dark Sisters to bind the automatons to demons, giving the mechanical creatures demon spirits to animate them. The binding spell is going down at the next full moon, which just so happens to be THAT VERY NIGHT.
- Charlotte and Henry go off to notify the Enclave that de Quincey is going to take action TONIGHT. Mortmain shows up and tells Will and Jem that he knows where the warlock is who will be making the binding spell, and he too says that de Quincey is the Magister.
- Will and Jem leave to go stop the warlock, leaving Tessa, Nate, Sophie, Jessamine, and some servants are at the Institute. No sooner than the others have left, shizz hits the fan at the Institute. Automatons show up at the door and force their way in. They kill several servants and injure Jessamine.
- Will and Jem make it to the location Mortmain gave them and discover that it’s a hoax. There is a warlock there, but they aren’t doing a binding spell, and they LOL at the fact that Will and Jem think de Quincey is the Magister.
- Back at the institute, in the middle of the automaton attack, Mortmain shows up again. When he gets there, Nate bows down to him and calls HIM the Magister, and Mortmain basically says that de Quincey was a wild goose chase. BOOM. Nate is a traitor and MORTMAIN is the Magister, and has been the head of this entire operation against the Nephilim from the start.
how did it end?
Nate denounces Tessa as his sister and reveals that Mortmain wants to destroy the Nephilim and rule all of the British Empire with his clockwork creatures. Mortmain tells Tessa that he made her, but that he’s not her father and that he needs her for his eeeevil plan. Mortmain says she is BASICALLY a warlock, but not quite. Will shows up in a panic, worried that Tessa has died because FEELS/REASONS, but when he realizes that she’s alive, he quits freaking out and goes back to being aloof. Nate makes off with the Institute’s pyxis.
Charlotte and Henry are going to be investigated by the Clave because they were fooled by Mortmain and let a spy (Nate) into the Institute. Tessa is going to remain living with them, but things between her and Will are NOT GOOD. He kisses her but then basically calls Tessa a whore, and says that they can have a thing now that she’ll be at the Institute for good. You know, like she can be his secret mistress. Will tells Tessa that warlocks, which she now believes herself to be, cannot have children.
In the epilogue, the warlock Magnus Bane is visited by Will, who asks his help with SOMETHING MYSTERIOUS.
Shadowhunters/Nephilim – Human descendents of the angel, Raziel. Demon fighters.
Downworlders – Vampires, warlocks, werewolves, faeries.
The Accords – Peace treaty between Shadowhunters and Downworlders.
Institute – Basically a Shadowhunter stronghold. Most large cities have one. Any Shadowhunter can go and live there, or stay there if they’re visiting. Being the Shadowhunter who is in charge of the Institute is position of some honor and respect. Institutes are usually in abandoned churches.
The Clave – The governing body of the Nephilim. Operates out of Idris.
The Covenant – The laws of the Nephilim.
Enclave – The branch of the Clave in London.
Idris – The Nephilim’s home world, it is basically an alternate dimension over Europe.
Stele – Weapons used by Shadowhunters. They use these to draw runes–tattoos that give the Shadowhunters different powers and gifts–on their bodies.
Iratzi – Healing runes.
Parabatai – Shadowhunters who are paired together as fighters, but are often closer than any other two Shadowhunters in all aspects of life. They can share powers, and are connected on a very deep level. It is against the law to be romantically involved with your parabatai. They are bound until one or both die.
The Silent Brothers – Mysterious group of Shadowhunters who have no eyes and lips that are sewn shut. They are the healers and jailers of the Shadowhunter realm. Can communicate telepathically.
Pyxis – A device that holds demons defeated and captured by Shadowhunters.