A new trailer for Shadowhunters — the upcoming supernatural drama on Freeform (the network formerly known as ABC Family) — dropped over the weekend. But what separates this show from the other teen shows filling the airwaves? Here are the basics that you’ll need to know before tuning in when the series premieres in 2016.
1. The drama is an adaptation of the young adult fantasy series, The Mortal Instruments
Since 2007, author Cassandra Clare has written and published six books in the series: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls and City of Heavenly Fire. After City of Bones was released, it reached #8 on The New York Times’ list of bestselling children’s chapter books. The popularity of the series flourished over the years, with City of Bones being adapted into a feature film in 2013, prior to the development of the forthcoming television series.
2. More than anything else, Shadowhunters is a coming-of-age story
When Clare began work on City of Bones, she conceived of the story as adult fantasy featuring teenagers, rather than as young adult lit. But she explained on her website that when she was asked by an interested publisher to make the characters older, she realized that the teenage characters and audience were key to her story: “I wanted to tell a story about characters at that crucial life stage just between adolescence and adulthood, where your choices determine the kind of person you’re going to be rather than reflecting who you already are.”
3. There’s a war going on
Here’s the basic premise of the series: After a night of dancing at Pandemonium nightclub in New York City, 18-year-old angel/human hybrid Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara) stumbles upon a group of teenage demon fighters — the Shadowhunters. She teams up with them and learns to “kill the demons, protect the humans.” The chaos that ensues once Clary takes this new path in life will dramatically alter the course of her life — including, presumably, her art school plans.
4. The battles will be fierce — and dark
Make no mistake, the new trailer is action-packed. Though there are sure to be love stories and philosophical musings on growing up and the transition from youth to adulthood, the emphasis in this preview is on the fighting. The monsters are ugly, the swords are sharp and glistening — there’s even a bedroom literally on fire, for some reason. Clary and their friends are going to have to take safety seriously.
5. They’re called seraph blades, not lightsabers
Notice those glowing swords? They look a lot like what we’re expecting to see when The Force Awakens opens in a few weeks, but they’re a little different. This key battle instrument in the Shadowhunters universe is called a seraph blade. Like lightsabers, they illuminate brightly when active. The hunters use them to kill demons, and as the name suggests, the objects harness the powers of angels.
6. ‘Lucelyn’ is the couple to watch
Fans of Shadowhunters won’t just be shipping the teen characters. Keep your eyes peeled for Lucelyn — Luke Garroway (Isaiah Mustafa) and Jocelyn Fray (Maxim Roy). Jocelyn is Clary’s mother and Luke her stepfather, and both have ties to the Shadowhunters. If the sweetness they’re displaying on Twitter is any indication, they’ll be a major reason to tune in each week.
7. The premiere is airing on Jan. 12
Set your DVR to Freeform at 9/8c that Tuesday.
8. But you can whet your appetite with the preview event Beyond the Shadows: The Making of Shadowhunters on Dec. 6
Can’t wait ‘til next year? Want to see the behind-the-scenes scoop to learn about the stunts, the cast and the drama? Tune into the preview special next Sunday at 9:30/8:30c.