A convoluted fight between bestselling authors has made its way to the courts, and as far as I can tell, whatever the final decision, there won’t be a winner at the end of this poorly plotted legal tale. Sherrilyn Kenyon is suing Cassandra Clare because the latter’s Shadowhunters series is too similar to the former’s Dark-Hunter series. I can’t lend an opinion because I haven’t read a book in either series, but Kenyon doesn’t appear to be making the claim that Clare has plagiarized her work in any way. Her complaint is that Clare’s structure and character archetypes are just too similar to Kenyon’s to be coincidental.
Clare comes from the world of Harry Potter fan fiction where she honed her writing skills by creating stories featuring the Hogwarts gang. She essentially built her brand in J.K. Rowling’s world, and then branched out on her own with the Shadowhunters series, which unfortunately for her was originally titled Darkhunters. The identical handle, Clare insists, was happenstance and was changed before the first book was published. She claims to have never read any of Kenyon’s books in the Dark-Hunter series.
While I don’t know either author, and I can’t attest to either’s integrity or lack there of, I lean towards supporting Clare in this matter. As many of you know, I am the author of a series called The Oz Chronicles. The first book in the series is called The Takers. The title of the book was fairly easy to come up with, but I struggled finding a series title. In fact, it was just shortly before I published that I decided on The Oz Chronicles, and I called it that because the main character’s name is Oz, and the series chronicles his journey. It wasn’t until I wrote the second book or maybe even the third book that I discovered L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz was part of series called The Oz Chronicles. The identical series titles are purely coincidental, and while the characters and monsters are completely different, the themes of the two series are similar, a stranger in a strange land trying to get back home.
My point is these similarities happen. I’m sure there are dozens of books on the market that are similar to Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter. Some may be purposely similar, others are similar just by chance. It happens. Kenyon’s complaint, I feel, is too broad. My opinion is entirely formed by Slate’s story on the lawsuit. I haven’t read the books, but until someone cites passages that are too similar to be coincidental, I’m giving Clare the benefit of the doubt.