The Ultimate Guide to the Shadowhunter Chronicles


The Shadowhunter Chronicles is a collection of series and novellas by Cassandra Clare. There are currently 20 books from five different series and three different novellas that all connect, with one final series yet to be released. It can be hard to know where to start and what order to read them all in (because the order does matter!), so this guide is to help any new readers wanting to enter the world of Shadowhunters!

There are two ways to read Cassandra Clare’s books: publication order or chronological order. For the majority of the series, I will always recommend the publication order. However, there are two different series you can start out with, and both are great places to start depending on the way you like to read. 

If you want to start in publication order…

The Mortal Instruments is the first series released in the Shadowhunter universe. The first book, City of Bones, came out in 2007. It follows Clary Fray, a fifteen-year-old who witnesses what she believes to be a murder at a club, but the body disappears as if it was never there. The three teenagers who committed this act turn out to be Shadowhunters, half-angel warriors who fight demons. As Clary becomes involved in their world, she learns that she might have more in common with the Shadowhunters than she realized. 

The Mortal Instruments is a six-book series, but after the release of the third book, City of Glass, Cassandra Clare released the first book in a prequel trilogy titled The Infernal Devices.

The Infernal Devices is the prequel series set in London in 1878, where Tessa Gray is searching for her brother. She finds herself living and working with the Shadowhunters, growing closer to them as they uncover a plot that threatens both her and the future of the world as they know it. Each book in the prequel series was released as the last three books in The Mortal Instruments were released. However, the last book in The Mortal Instruments contains spoilers for the ending of The Infernal Devices. Because of this, I suggest reading all three books in The Infernal Devices after City of Glass and before you start book four of The Mortal Instruments, City of Fallen Angels. 

After finishing The Infernal Devices, continue with the final three books in The Mortal Instruments. I know it can be hard to split up a series, but the first three books have a bit of closure that makes it easier to take this pause. 

If you would rather read the entire series back-to-back, I suggest starting in chronological order instead. 

If you want to start in chronological order…

Starting with The Infernal Devices will help you avoid any spoilers for the series while also avoiding splitting The Mortal Instruments in half. The only cons with this reading order is the introduction to the world and the evolution of Cassandra Clare’s writing style. Because City of Bones was the original introduction to the world of Shadowhunters, it gives a slightly better initial explanation of the world. While Clockwork Angel also provides similar information to help new readers, it might be a bit confusing at the very beginning to those who aren’t already familiar with the world. Cassandra Clare has also grown as a writer throughout the years, and there is a definite difference between the quality of The Infernal Devices and the very beginning of The Mortal Instruments. While both series are great and her writing improves as The Mortal Instruments continues, it is definitely something to keep in mind when picking a reading order!

After finishing the Infernal Devices, you can read the entirety of The Mortal Instruments next! If you’re someone who likes to binge-read series, I would recommend this order. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind splitting a series in half, I would recommend the first order. Both are great ways to start the Shadowhunter Chronicles! 

After finishing The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments…

The next book to read after finishing the first two series in the Shadowhunter Chronicles is The Bane Chronicles, which is a collection of novellas about Magnus Bane, an immortal warlock who is an important character in both series. It gives the reader a deeper look into the life of Magnus while also giving context to other side characters and places that appear in each series. It contains novellas set throughout time, including during the events of the Mortal Instruments, so it’s important to read it after that. I know it may be tempting to skip the novellas, but Cassandra Clare’s are always crucial to the characters and events, giving you snippets of history that add another layer to the Shadowhunter Chronicles. 

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy is the next collection of novellas in the Shadowhunter Chronicles, and these follow Simon after the ending of The Mortal Instruments. If you would prefer to read this directly after The Mortal Instruments, you can read it before the Bane Chronicles. However, it’s important that you read this before starting the next series, The Dark Artifices. While the first book in that series technically came out before Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, the novellas have extremely important information that connects to the other two books in the series. These novellas also start setting the foundation for the fourth Shadowhunter series, set in 1903, which is why it’s important to follow the publication order instead of the chronological one. 

The next series in the Shadowhunter Chronicles is The Dark Artifices. It’s a trilogy set five years after the events of The Mortal Instruments, following Emma Carstairs, Julian Blackthorn, and the rest of the Blackthorn family as they investigate a demonic plot and the murder of faeries in Los Angeles, resulting in a fight to protect their family and a love that could destroy them all, if they aren’t destroyed by dark forces first. Emma and Julian, as well as some other members of the Blackthorn family like Mark, are introduced in City of Heavenly Fire, the final book in The Mortal Instruments. It’s where their story starts, and it sets the reader up for The Dark Artifices and the characters within it. Each series and novella up to this point have contributed in some way to the events and/or characters in The Dark Artifices, so it’s crucial to make sure you’ve read them before starting Lady Midnight

The next book to read is Ghosts of the Shadow Market, the third novella collection in The Shadowhunter Chronicles. It includes stories related to all three series, following Brother Zachariah throughout time as he witnesses key moments in different character’s lives. This is arguably the most important collection of novellas in the Shadowhunter Chronicles because it sets up the fourth Shadowhunter series. It provides essential background information about main characters in the series that help the reader better understand their actions throughout. 

Next is The Last Hours, which is the fourth series in the Shadowhunter Chronicles and a sequel series to The Infernal Devices. It is set in 1903 in London, and the main characters are the children of the characters from The Infernal Devices. Cordelia Carstairs moves to London with her family after her father is accused of a crime, and she reunites with her childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale, finding a home within their group of friends. When unusual demon attacks start to plague London, Cordelia and her friends discover dark and incredible powers at their disposal and the price of being a hero as they fight to save London and all they hold dear. 

The Eldest Curses is an unfinished trilogy about Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane from The Mortal Instruments, each book set at a different point in their story. The first book, The Red Scrolls of Magic, is set halfway through The Mortal Instruments, and the second book, The Lost Book of the White, is set after the events of The Mortal Instruments and before The Dark Artifices. This can be read at any point after finishing The Dark Artifices because the third book is supposed to be set after the events of Queen of Air and Darkness. However, I would recommend reading it last because it is still unfinished (with the final book, The Black Volume of the Dead, still without a publication date), and the last book is supposed to be set before the final, unreleased Shadowhunter series. 

At the very end of the reading list, there’s The Wicked Powers. This unreleased trilogy will be the finale to the Shadowhunter Chronicles, with Ty Blackthorn, Drusilla Blackthorn, and Kit Herondale from The Dark Artifices as the main characters. There isn’t much information on it yet, but it is clear that it will be the final conflict between demons and angels, where characters from every series will become involved one last time. 

Here is a condensed list of each book in my suggested reading order to refer back to:

Starting in publication order…

  1. City of Bones (TMI)
  2. City of Ashes (TMI)
  3. City of Glass (TMI)
  4. Clockwork Angel (TID)
  5. Clockwork Prince (TID)
  6. Clockwork Princess (TID)
  7. City of Fallen Angels (TMI)
  8. City of Lost Souls (TMI)
  9. City of Heavenly Fire (TMI)

Starting in chronological order…

  1. Clockwork Angel (TID)
  2. Clockwork Prince (TID)
  3. Clockwork Princess (TID)
  4. City of Bones (TMI)
  5. City of Ashes (TMI)
  6. City of Glass (TMI)
  7. City of Fallen Angels (TMI)
  8. City of Lost Souls (TMI)
  9. City of Heavenly Fire (TMI)

After finishing TMI and TID…

  1. The Bane Chronicles 
  2. Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy 
  3. Lady Midnight (TDA)
  4. Lord of Shadows (TDA)
  5. Queen of Air and Darkness (TDA)
  6. Ghosts of the Shadow Market 
  7. Chain of Gold (TLH)
  8. Chain of Iron (TLH)
  9. Chain of Thorns (TLH)
  10. The Red Scrolls of Magic (TEC)
  11. The Lost Book of the White (TEC)


  1. The Black Volume of the Dead (TEC)
  2. The Last King of Faerie (TWP)
  3. The Last Prince of Hell (TWP)
  4. The Last Shadowhunter (TWP)

*TID = The Infernal Devices, TMI = The Mortal Instruments, TDA = The Dark Artifices, TLH = The Last Hours, TEC = The Eldest Curses, TWP = The Wicked Powers

Sam Yanis, Pine Reads Review Writer & Podcast Host