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Review: SHADOWHUNTERS Sets Up Cassandra Clare’s MORTAL INSTRUMENTS World Authentically, but Slowly

This is The Mortal Instruments adaptation fans have been waiting for.

ABC Family’s Freeform’s newest TV show, Shadowhunters, finally gets right what the 2013 film, The Mortal Instruments, got wrong: it’s taking its time telling Cassandra Clare’s story … in the right way. As we see in the series pilot, nothing is rushed through or skated over. Every detail is included.

Sure, there are minor changes here and there that fans will surely notice. Luke (Old Spice hottie Isaiah Mustafa) is now a cop instead of a bookstore owner; Simon (newcomer Roberto Rosende) is dating his bandmate but pining for Clary (Happyland‘s Katherine McNamara), who, incidentally, has been aged up two years. But the story at the core of the new series is exactly as it is in the books.

Anyway, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For those uninitiated into the Shadowhunters world, here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect to see: Shadowhunters are half-human, half-angels (also called Nephilim) who fight evil Downworlders (supernatural creatures that are part-human, part-demon) to make the world safe for Mundanes (ordinary humans). Shadowhunters have a leg up on their evil counterparts thanks to an angel magic in their blood that allows them to draw runes on their skin, giving them powers like invisibility, speed and strength.

That certainly comes in handy when you have to kill a demon in the middle of a crowded New York night club without the nearby dancing humans ending up any the wiser. (All of which is exactly what happens to young Clary the night she turns 18.)


While out celebrating her milestone birthday, the protective spell her mother Jocelyn (Maxim Roy) placed over Clary disappears, and the growing girl is finally able see the magical world that’s been hiding under her nose for her entire life. That’s also when Clary’s mother gets kidnapped by evil Shadowhunters, led by the dark and mysterious Valentine (Reign‘s Alan Van Sprang). Over the course of one long night, Clary gets caught up in the world of angels and demons, accompanied by the gifted (and brooding!) Shadowhunter Jace Wayland (Vampire Academy‘s Dominic Sherwood) on a quest to find her mother and become the Shadowhunter she was always meant to be.

For fans of Clare’s Mortal Instruments books, the series premiere will provide little-to-no surprises. Executive producers Ed Decter and McG followed the source material like a recipe. As we said above, there are small changes in the details, but the story operates exactly the same as does in the novels. This might lead to a very bland experience for the book-readers, but for new viewers, the premiere is certainly going to be a wild ride with a lot of big questions left hanging in the air.

Again, fans of The Mortal Instruments will know all of the answers to the premiere’s big mysteries, but that’s the price you pay into when you get an adaptation this authentic and faithful. Let’s just hope the journey to the destination that we know is coming makes it all worth it.

One complaint we do have about the premiere is that the entire hour feels very choppy; the scenes don’t flow seamlessly from one to the next. It’s almost like the original cut of the first episode came out way too long, and the editing process was so arduous that half the story was left on the cutting room floor. But seeing as how the premiere only covers a small bit of the first book, City of Bones, we can only wonder what didn’t make it into the episode.

We only received the first episode in advance of the premiere, so maybe the show will grow into itself as it moves forward. But at least it’s already a more accurate adaptation than the 2013 movie. Let’s just all agree to forget that ever existed, shall we?

What are you most excited to see from Freeform’s Shadowhunters? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Images: Freeform

Shadowhunters airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Freeform.

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