the way that cassie lingers on grace’s beauty is, i think, quite striking. most of cassie’s characters are, to some degree, physically attractive, but i think it’s fair to say that the emphasis placed on grace’s beauty surpasses that of even cassandra’s most classically beautiful characters (almost two whole pages spent on this!) specifically, it’s very intriguing that grace is presented as beguiling and otherworldly. i’ve taken some extracts from tmh, where this idea is explored v thoroughly in magnus’s pov. (bolded parts are important to my theory)
“Magnus had always found mortals to be beautiful, and had seen many mortals whom anybody would have described as beautiful.
This was extraordinary beauty,beauty unlike the beauty of most mortals. In the stained and filthy ruin the house had become, she shone like a pearl. Her hair was the color of a pearl too, palest ivory with a sheen of gold on it, and her skin was the luminous pink and white of a seashell. Her lashes were thick and dark, veiling eyes of deep unearthly gray.
Her face was a porcelain cup, upturned; her eyes held promises. The combination of beauty, innocence, and the promise of sin was staggering.
Magnus couldn’t help staring at her. Everything about her was so perfectly constructed to appeal. She was beautiful, yes, but it was more than that. She seemed shy, yet all her attention was focused on Magnus, as if he were the most fascinating thing she had ever seen. There was no man who did not want to see himself reflected like that in a beautiful girl’s eyes. And if the neckline of her dress was a shade low, it did not seem scandalous, for her gray eyes were full of an innocence that said that she did not know of desire, not yet, but there was a lushness to the curve of her lip, a dark light in her eyes that said that under the right hands she would be a pupil who yielded the most exquisite result […]
“Magnus could imagine the normal reactions to this girl, a girl whose every gesture, every expression, every line, cried, Love her, love her, love her.”
i think that grace may not be 100% shadowhunter.
that last line in particular seems to recall the line of description about mark blackthorn (i can’t remember it off the top of my head) where everything about him seems to cry out for love – suggests there is something about that her attraction that is literally a calling to all men; the part where her beauty is pearlescent/compared to a seashell (nautical/marine associations); that her beauty held promises of both innocence and sin (that this attraction is not just a feeling, but somehow an articulation of something, a pledge); the emphasis on her beauty being separate from that of most mortals – all seems, to me, to associate grace with the classical archetype of the siren.
briefly put, sirens are mythological half-female half-mermaid/fish creatures who sing to sailors and, entranced by their beauty, they drag the sailors down into the sea to their death. they are associated with temptation; death from fascination with beauty.
now, the british 18+19th century (and fin-de-siècle) was fascinated with greek mythology (this is traditionally a homeric tale, surfacing with odysseus), and the work of many artists, poets and authors contributed to a huge popular resurgence of this.
this painting by draper of sirens luring sailors to their deaths is roughly contemporaneous with when TLH is set (1900; chain of gold begins in 1903).
the idea of drowning is of even further significance, because this happens to james in tmh. he ends up in the serpentine river, and magnus rescues him; he notes that “He had not seemed to want to be taken from the cold depths of the water: had fought Magnus as he dragged him out, then laid his pale cheek against the dank earth of the riverbank and hid his face in his arms.”
james, there, is the figurative sailor. james furthermore compares himself to his father: whereas he was cursed, james considers himself ‘damned’ – it is implied, because of his love for grace. interesting that he should feel damned (as if there is no redemption/no saving him), in the same way that the sailors were dragged to the depths. (also makes her name, ‘grace’, very ironic).
thus, tmh seems to me to using a lot of symbols and images to deliberately recast this mythological story. it is heavily suggesting that grace is a shadowhunter with some kind of siren power (perhaps part faerie? perhaps part selkie? idk) that tatiana has effectively weaponised; that james’ and grace’s relationship (his love for her) is moulded from this idea of grace having enchanted him, in some way – and, ultimately, that is love for her is ‘unnatural’; the result of some magic or some spell. (ironic, considering that his father searched for a magical solution to put himself out of love in cp; as a sidenote, even though we’ve seen relatively little of james so far it’s honestly ridiculous how many parallels there are between him and his father already).
the only obstacle to this is, i think, the suggestion in nbs (tosa) that james has harboured a crush on grace for a long time – since he was 13. however, i think that this may have only been a crush until the point that grace put this (spell?) on him and it blossomed into fully-fledged ‘love’.
i think the big question is: will james’ and grace’s relationship continue in this mould for the entire series? it’s clear to see that cassie has married these mythological echoes with the premise of estella and pip’s characters from great expectations, but will it follow the same trajectory of a deeply unhealthy and obsessive relationship, bound to be unfulfilled? will it be that james is so blinded by grace’s ‘love’ that he is unable to see how he genuinely loves cordelia? or will there be a big twist?
I just noticed this. I don’t know how I missed it, but I did. So in the flower cards, Cordelia Carstairs is shown with a flower crown of daisies.
And Grace Blackthorn is said to love making flower crowns. The odd thing is that James calls her Daisy, as in the flower, and Grace likes making flower crowns.
My theory is, maybe James is in love with Grace and Cordelia, and maybe Grace is in love with Cordelia as well. I mean its strange that Cassandra Jean put in two things, that are in a way hobbies of two other characters, (Grace makes crowns, James picks out nicknames for everyone) and then put them on one specific character.
So maybe Grace falls in live with Cordy or maybe she becomes friends with Cordelia… I hope they become bff’s…
Also I’d like to point out that daisies don’t just mean loyalty or love, they also mean purity and innocence, two things Magnus called Grace in TMH [Magnus does not exactly describe Grace as pure, but he does imply it (he says she looks innocent like a child)].
Anyways, I’m probably the only one who thinks this (if you do think the same then maybe we can talk more about theories and whatnot).
woah wait there are people who hate on grace just because she rejected james and that's it? what
I don’t think people hate her specifically BECAUSE she rejected James, but so far that’s really all we know about their relationship. Magnus observed her and said “she had taught him (James) that love was not kind.” (Something along those lines) So it seems like she just rejected him? And James is obviously heartbroken, but we don’t know anything about their relationship so I refuse to hate her until she does something actually worth hating (because rejecting someone is not a good reason at all and the amount of hate she gets seems disproportionate).
And then Cordelia was jealous of her because James obviously fancied her and Cordelia has a massive crush on James. But just because she has the interest of someone isn’t a good reason to hate her.
I agree that there was something off about her in The Midnight Heir. But that could have been Tatiana’s influence/ how she acts around Tatiana. (Remember in Nothing but Shadows James said Grace needed “rescuing” if not from Tatiana then what/who?)
According to CC’s Pinterest there’s a caption that says- “be careful what you say to me,” Grace told him. “There is nothing I cannot make you do.” So does she have some siren like ability where she can make people do whatever she wants? The fact that she hasn’t exercised this ability on anyone (that we know of yet) makes her seem pretty decent. And it seems plausible that when James met her when she was younger she was desperate to get out of Tatiana’s house (assuming that it’s a toxic environment) she could have used her ability on James and it developed into an obsession/or desire.
In conclusion, I refuse to actually dislike her until we know more about her and more about what she’s done. Because honestly for me at this point she seems pretty badass.
(Thank you for letting me rant oh my god I just have a lot of feelings about Grace okay)
My all time favorite Anna headcanon is that Anna always acts really annoyed when Christopher asks for her to help him test his various hypothesizes, but Anna secretly loves learning from him.
Anytime he discovers something new Anna is astonished about what a genius her baby brother is.
All the Lightwood and Herondale kids meet up at Anna’s flat and hang out
They literally just sit around and complain about their parents to each other, and Anna gives them all great advice about life.
When Grace broke James’ heart, he headed straight for Anna’s flat. He didn’t know why he went to her instead of Matthew, but Anna was able to cheer him up almost immediately.
After that, Anna and James’ relationship strengthened and they became nearly inseparable, and James would visit Anna anytime he was feeling down.
Anna is super sassy to her parents, and the way she talks to Cecily drives Gabriel mad (however, he fawns over his daughter.)
Anna is very blunt, and she will often say things that others perceive as insulting.
Cecily tried to talk to her about it but Anna wouldn’t have it, saying she only spoke the truth.
Anna doesn’t really care what anyone else thinks of her; she dances to the sound of her own music, and she won’t let anyone else’s words or opinions change that.
Anna does, however, immediately jump to the defense of her friends and family. If anyone hurts her loved ones, especially Christopher, James, or Lucie, they better run because Anna will hunt them down.
I’m a huge Charles Dickens fan (I’ve read all of his books many times each,) so I tend to associate Grace with Estella from “Great Expectations.” I believe both of their characters will follow similar development arcs, but I can try to create some headcanons anyway:
Young Grace was absolutely devastated when her big brother Jesse died.
She cried for weeks and weeks on end, and Tatiana was too grief-stricken to comfort her.
This was around the time Grace met James, who helped her understand and move past her loss.
Grace secretly always admired James’ love of literature growing up, and she wished she could study books as often as he did.
She read every book in the old Blackthorn manor from cover to cover multiple times and also learned to appreciate the written word.
Grace begged Tatiana for more books, but she said no because “pretty girls had better things to do than read.”
This infuriated Grace, who began reading as many books as possible which she borrowed from James
Soon James and Grace would have these long, in-depth conversations about various classics, authors, and characters that they read about.
James started visiting Idris less and less, and Grace soon lost her access to his extensive library.
She started sneaking into Alicante to buy second-hand books, and she hid them all in her room.
When Jesse came back, Grace shared all of her books with him while Tatiana tried to keep him hidden.
Eventually, Grace grew to hate Lucie and Cordelia, especially after they “took” Jesse away with them
In reality, she was devastated that she was trapped alone with Tatiana again.
I hope you liked my headcanons! Please send me your theories, ideas, and headcanons, and I will post them on my blog!
Hey Cassie! I’m a huge fan of your books and so excited to discover your new stories and characters in both TDA and TLH! I was re-reading the bane chronicles recently and after I finished Midnight Heir I couldn’t help but be completely fascinated by Grace Blackthorn. Being the huge nerd that I am (in preparation for TLH obviously lol) I started to get really into researching the Edwardian era. I ended up coming across the beauty standards for the women at the time and became curious… At the turn of the century the “Gibson Girl” was the height of feminine beauty. Apparently blondes were ‘out’ and tall statuesque ladies with dark hair, dark brows, pale skin and pink lips were the height of fashion. Blonde haired women even dyed their hair to keep up to date. None of these qualities (as far as I recall) apply to Grace and I was wondering why that was. I realize that Grace’s appeal obviously extends beyond her looks and that asking about your motives behind a characters physical appearance could be redundant and one of those “it is because it just is” questions. But because Grace’s beauty and charm seem to be such a huge part of her character (like Estella’s in Great expectations) it made me wonder about your reasons behind Grace’s particular brand of beauty. Do those “mundane” beauty standards not apply to Shadowhunters? Are her looks some kind of clue to her genetics? Is she meant to look ghostly like Miss Havisham? Or is she just the way she is because that’s what felt right? Anyways, thank you for creating such wonderful worlds to explore, they’ve all made me feel safe and happy when I otherwise wouldn’t have. Sending love!! Xoxo — conflictedfangirl
How cool of you to do research! The thing is, the dictates of high fashion rarely match up with what people find beautiful in the run of ordinary life. High fashion might have dictated that brunettes were “in” at the end of the Victorian era, but that didn’t prevent beautiful blondes from being celebrated. It didn’t prevent the Prince of Wales from pursuing Lilly Langtry, one of the most famous beauties of the time, and a blonde. There was also a brief period where colored hair was in — green, blue and pink — at the turn of the century, but it didn’t make young men spring up shouting “MAMA! I SHALL MARRY ONLY A PINK-HAIRED LASS!” (Unfortunately.)
Grace is charming, when she wants to be; she is also blonde. Because so much of her nature and mystery revolves around the idea of whether her feelings are dead, whether she is “frozen” inside, I gave her pale hair and skin and eyes, to echo that coldness. Whether they are a clue to anything genetically interesting about her, you’ll have to wait and see!
Could u make some more grace blackthorn theories? ( she is my favorite character from the last hours and I love your theories about her maybe being half siren or something) ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️
Thanks! I’m sure I will once we have more details about her character! I consider my theories only to be theories if we have some kind of evidence to base it on, and at the minute we’re very very limited. All other thoughts I have on her aren’t theories, as such; they’re just speculative ideas. here are some:
- Re-reading NBS, I noticed that the boy who dies in the Academy, is called Clive Cartwright. now, this could be Grace’s cousin, or any distant relative, perhaps? but he wasn’t really very important at all (just a plot device) and it seemed strange that cassie would do this for the relative of a very important character. there’s a part of me that wonders if she is indeed actually a cartwright: how did she end up a ward, and how, even then, did she end up in the hands of tatiana blackthorn? if she is an orphan (the most common reason, in the shadow world, to be brought up in another household/family, then surely she’d be placed with the herondales, in the london institute? leads me to believe that perhaps tatiana was selected by one of her parents? or perhaps tatiana rescued her?) in GE, estella’s father is magwitch, the man who helps Pip (in this case, james) become a gentleman. i think discovering grace’s heritage (which may even be unknown to her) will potentially be a v significant part of the story.
- grace is characterised as beautiful, but also emotionally very cold. she doesn’t seem to care about james’ suffering. a huge part of her arc must needs be about, then, how she is not, deep down, actually heartless. (not even sebastian was). if she doesn’t, in turn, fall in love with james, then i suspect it’ll be someone else.
- i don’t think it’s an accident that she marries christopher lightwood (tatiana’s own family); especially with what we know about him being apparently terrible around girls – I reckon this (may be?) one of the arranged marriages that cassie alluded to on the family tree.
lowkey hope that christopher and grace's relationship is real. they're so different like he's soft and she's... not. and i think it could be a great relationship and she could change to be better idk i just want the book already
I actually like this :) I mean they both could turn out to appreciate/acknowledge each other who knows. Grace is still young, so maybe she won’t always be a Tatiana Jr. and just become a neutral character later on. I hope she and James get a proper closure too.