Sherrilyn Kenyon sues Cassandra Clare for ‘wilfully copying’ her novels

by |February 13, 2016

It’s a curious story, this one.


Sherrilyn Kenyon

Bestselling fantasy novelist Sherrilyn Kenyon is suing author Cassandra Clare, alleging that Clare’s bestselling Mortal Instruments and Shadowhunters series “knowingly and wilfully copied” Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series.

Juicy, no?

As a point of reference, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series was first published in 1998, while Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Shadowhunter series, City of Bones began in 2007.

The lawsuit states that both series, ‘are about an elite band of warriors that must protect the human world from the unseen paranormal threat that seeks to destroy humans as they go about their daily lives’.

The lawsuit also highlights the following similarities:

  • They are both given a manual on how to conduct their mission and on how to conduct themselves when dealing with other entities and species in their fictional world.
  • Both series employ a line of warriors who protect the normal world from demons
  • In both series, a young person becomes part of the Dark-Hunters’ (or Shadowhunters’) world after being saved by a gorgeous blonde Dark-Hunter (or Shadowhunter)
  • They each must kill their demonic father
  • Both Dark-Hunters and Shadowhunters have enchanted swords that are divinely forged, imbued with otherworldly spirits, have unique names, and glow like heavenly fire.

Cassandra Clare

Okay that’s…wow.

“These substantially similar elements, coupled with Clare’s access to the Dark-Hunter series, which were widely disseminated, leave little doubt that numerous substantive original elements of the Dark-Hunter series have been copied by Clare.”

“Clare, in writing The Mortal Instruments and the Shadowhunters Series knowingly and wilfully copied the Dark-Hunter Series and original elements therein to create a work or works substantially similar to and derivative of the Dark-Hunter Series.”

We look forward to Cassandra Clare telling her side of her side of the story.

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Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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  • Alex

    February 13, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    I’ve read all of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s books but only seen the movie and tv series based on Cassandra Clare’s novels and honestly I can only see a couple of mild similarities but it’s missing one big similarity and that is that the Dark Hunters are almost immortal and are more like vampires where as Shadow Hunters are human with a bit of magic thrown in.

  • February 14, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Not the first person she has plagiarised, and it won’t be the last. Clare is infamous for stealing other authors’ work.

    And yet, it has not had any negative effect on her career. Just like E.L. James taught everyone publishing fan fiction is considered ethical now! Rewrite someone else’s book = become a billionaire!

  • Jenny

    February 14, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Seriously! A lot of books have similar plot points to other books, it doesn’t mean they copied. If I was going to have an enchanted sword, I’d give it a name and make it glow in the dark too! I can think of at least two other series that have swords like that. Having to kill your father is an old and well-used conflict (e.g. Star Wars). Personally I’d be saved by a dark brooding sort of guy/vampire/creature of the night/angel/demon, but a lot of people love blonds. Plus, every single non-fantasy romance I’ve ever read follows one of 3 plots (and I’m being generous here – it’s more like the same plot – different setting/character names – the only thing that really changes is if the girl is feisty or if the girl swoons.)

  • Lianne Fisher

    February 14, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Unfortunately I don’t know how successful this case will be as the similarities can be seen in a number of books, perhaps not all of but enough. Terry Brooks for instance has some of these elements. I think Clare will argue that this formula is a fairly common one and not necessarily a “copy” of someone else work. Good luck to Sherrilyn on this one.

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