Book Review: What Really Happened in Peru by Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan

Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices know that Magnus Bane is banned from Peru—and now they can find out why. One of ten adventures in The Bane Chronicles.

There are good reasons Peru is off-limits to Magnus Bane. Follow Magnus’s Peruvian escapades as he drags his fellow warlocks Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss into trouble, learns several instruments (which he plays shockingly), dances (which he does shockingly), and disgraces his host nation by doing something unspeakable to the Nazca Lines.

This standalone e-only short story illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality populates the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. This story in The Bane Chronicles, What Really Happened in Peru, is written by Sarah Rees Brennan and Cassandra Clare.

My Rating: 2 cupcakes

Magnus Bane is one of the more intriguing characters in the Mortal Instruments series, so I had high hopes for this novella. Unfortunately, while this is a fairly fun read, we don’t really learn anything that The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices series hadn’t already told us.

For the most part, reading What Really Happened in Peru felt like reading a fanfiction story. The dialogue was awkward at times and the transitions between Clare and Brennan’s writing was choppy and obvious.

The story is split into four different parts, chronicling Magnus’ adventures in Peru. As a result, the transitions between these years caused the already short novella to feel rushed. Many details were quickly mentioned and then glossed over, leaving little room for the plot and the characters to develop.

Magnus’ adventures and behaviour are amusing but not very informative. Instead of the complex character that I had grown to love, Magnus was reduced to a glorified party boy with an attitude to rival Jace’s. I enjoyed his witty banter and the way that he acted when he was drunk, but I was disappointed by the way that his moments of bitterness and wisdom were glossed over in favour of his absurd antics.

The deeper, serious moments were few and far between, but they were easily my favourite parts of this novella. We were provided with a new idea regarding the existence of warlocks: rather than existing because of a demon’s deception, they exist because they were loved.

“We live forever by the grace of human love, which rocked children in their cradles and did not despair and did not turn away.”

These moments also allow for a bit of insight into Magnus’ past – with his parents and the people he had loved – as well as his views on time, love, and immortality. One particular musing about what it means to love a mortal stood out, despite having been presented in slightly different terms in The Mortal Instruments series.

“To Magnus, time was like rain, glittering as it fell, changing the world, but something that could also be taken for granted. Until you loved a mortal. Then time became gold in a miser’s hands, every bright year counted out carefully, infinitely precious, and each one slipping through your fingers.”

If What Really Happened in Peru contained more of these serious moments, it would have made for a much more satisfying read. As it was, the novella was fun but forgettable, so hopefully the next installment will be better.

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  • I agree that this novella was, “fun but forgettable”. I’m getting the feeling that The Bane Chronicles are just inconsequential filler while we wait for the other Shadowhunter books to come out. It’s kind of disappointing when a whole series on Magnus Bane could add so much dimension to his character :/

    • I completely agree. I’ve only read this one so far, but it doesn’t seem like The Bane Chronicles really add too much to the series. It’s too bad they weren’t just a little bit longer; then maybe there would be more depth to Magnus’ character.

  • Aw, no, I am so disappointed to read this review. Magnus is one of my favourite TMI characters, too, and it’s kind of crap to hear that he’s reduced to a ‘party boy’. Maybe it would have been better had it solely been written by Clare?
    Do you think it’s still worth the read, Erin?

    • I was disappointed to have to write this review. I feel like they were just trying to do too much with this one. Instead of having four short stories about his time in Peru, one longer story would have led to a lot more character/plot development.
      I’d still give it a try. Even though I complained a lot in the review, it was a pretty entertaining read.

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