Beardy Bestie Fran and I are not always the grown ups we pretend to be – and one of the ways in which we still feel like overgrown kids is our love of Young Adult fantasy novels. Now, we vary somewhat as to what we like (Fran has Twilight as a guilty pleasure – when we went to see it in the cinema, I managed to alienate all the teenagers by making sarcastic all the way through), but both of us really enjoyed The Mortal Instruments series when we read it, so we dragged Beardy Fiance to go see it.
In the wake of the success of Twilight and The Hunger Games, there’s been a spate of less successful teen fantasy adaptations, all have which have failed spectacularly at the box office. I would say that City of Bones ranks between Beautiful Creatures (which was lovely, featuring a great supporting cast and a great Southern Gothic vibe) and The Host (which was horrible).
The basic premise is that teenager Clary (Lily Collins, daughter of Genesis drummer Phil) comes home one to find her apartment destroyed and her mother Jocelyn (Cersei Lannister herself, Lena Headey) missing. The search for her mother leads her into the world of angelic demon slayers known as “shadowhunters” as well as werewolves, vampires, demons, witches and warlocks.
The movie has a great cast, including some wonderful up and coming Irish talents (Robert Sheehan, far from his days as an abuse survivor in the gritty Red Riding, plays Clary’s best friend Simon while former dwarf Aidan Turner continues in the fantasy genre as werewolf Luke). While Clary is very much of the mould of other YA heroines (obviously all men fall in love with her constantly), she is at least an interesting person, with creative drawing skills and a strong sense of family loyalty. I much preferred tough shadowhunter Isabelle (a follower of Buffy’s legacy of kicking butt while looking great), and it was great to see Jonathan Rhys Meyers working again as villain Valentine (even if he has one go-to English accent – the commanding, gruff voice of Henry VIII).
One storyline of the movie bothered me though. While it’s great that LGBT action heroes are becoming more common, Kevin Zeger‘s Alec is, sadly, stripped of his many layers as a closeted gay teenager in the book and reduced to a hulk who jealously attacks Clary (violence against women is never cool).
The film also had a gritty urban feel to it – taking place bang on trend in Brooklyn, which I enjoyed at well. Probably the main problem I had was that the film was a bit too slow. The exposition was massively cut down from the lovely back story of the books, but there was still a lot of talking and not a lot of fighting (much to Beardy Fiance’s dismay). With any luck, the sequel will continue to explore these interesting characters and have a bit more plot. I’d definitely recommend it to parents of young tweens (even if only because it’s better than Twilight!)
The urban feel of New York (especially Brooklyn – so bang on trend) is really important to this movie. And to me, the baked good which most represents New York has to be the black and white cookie. Virtually unheard of here in London, but absolutely delicious, this is what I imagine a trendy New York teenager to be eating in coffee shops while listening to bad poetry readings.
Black and White Cookies (adapted from Cookiepedia)
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup (394g) caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
4 egg whites
3/4 cup (175ml) milk
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 cups (330g) cake flour
These cookies are iced with vanilla and chocolate fondant icing (as opposed to buttercream) – I just mixed together milk and icing sugar, but if you want a more specific recipe, there’s a great one from Smitten Kitten.
Typically, these are iced as one half chocolate and one half vanilla meeting in the middle – Beardy Fiance got a bit creative! These are best enjoyed with a cold glass of milk.