SPOILER WARNING: Plot details follow. Caution is advised!
CJ Jem 06
“I cannot be sure, though I think it has something to do with
the clarity of them.”

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What I have is trying. I can try harder than anyone else in the world. I can make revenge the only thing I have in my life. I can do that, because I have to. But it means it's all I have.

–Emma, Lady Midnight

Emma Carstairs is a Shadowhunter that has lived most of her life in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family.


Early life

Emma was born in 1995 to Cordelia and John Carstairs. Living in Los Angeles, the Carstairs family maintained good relations with the Blackthorns. Not only did she spend most of her time at the local Institute to train, but Emma also became good friends with the children residing in the Institute, the children of the head, Andrew Blackthorn.

As a child, her father taught her how to recognize different instruments by sound. He had been a violinist, and he played an ancestor Jem Carstairs' violin in particular. Emma tried to learn to play at one point or another, but was quickly discouraged by the sounds she made and gave up early.[1]

Emma became particularly close with Julian Blackthorn, whom she has known since they were both young and has since grown up with.

Dark War

In December 2007, Emma was dropped off by her parents at the Institute to train with her friends, the Blackthorn children. Later that day, Sebastian Morgenstern arrived and wreaked havoc. Eventually, Emma and the other children escaped through Portal and arrived at Idris.

There, she was told that her parents died the same evening. Good friends and now both orphans, Emma and Jules mourned and helped each other through the ordeal. During the investigation afterwards, Emma and the others were all brought in front of the Clave, all of them questioned with the Mortal Sword, inciting her fury. To help ease her pain, she was approached by Clary Fray, and both took a liking to each other.

At one point, Emma stole her parents' file from the Consul. With it, she realized that her parents in fact died under strange circumstances, though because of the situation, the Clave decided to blame the deaths on the Dark Shadowhunters. Her resolve was since formed, and Emma made it a goal to find out the truth behind her parents' deaths. After the Dark War, the Clave planned to either send Emma to distant relatives in different countries, or the Shadowhunter Academy in Idris. Realizing that she needed to stay in Los Angeles, she accepted Jules' offer to become parabatai, and the Clave had no choice but to send her back to Los Angeles with the Blackthorns.

Before leaving Alicante with the Blackthorns via Portal, Jace Herondale, a famous Shadowhunter whom she idolized and had a crush on, gave her his first stele.

During the battle, a former Silent Brother called Zachariah went to great lengths to protect Emma and the Blackthorn children. Unbeknownst to her, Zachariah is in fact a distant relative—Jem Carstairs. While he did not tell her who he was, he hinted at it by referring to her by her full name. After the war, it was not only her new friend Clary who worried about her, but also Jem and Tessa Gray, both of whom decided to return to Los Angeles to keep an eye on Emma.[2]

When she first moved in with the Blackthorns, she felt that she had to create her own niche within their family. In between training sessions, Emma went to antique stores and sales and bought odd knick-knacks, toys, old books, and magazines to share with the Blackthorn children.[3] However, she maintained some separation from them as well, such as by picking a bedroom in the opposite wing of the Institute, to denote that she was aware that she was not a Blackthorn and that she was still a Carstairs.


In December of 2009, Emma and Jules at around fourteen years old had their parabatai ritual. On the day of the ceremony, just before they started, Jem took Emma aside and told her about him being a Carstairs.[1] Clary stood as Emma's witness, per her request, and Clary's best friend Simon stood as Julian's.[4]

Emma later attended Jem and Tessa's wedding on the Blackfriars Bridge in London in 2009,[2] though, for some reason, she and Jules do not remember this.[1][5]

Later life

Being exposed to violence at a young age caused Emma to dedicate her life to hunting down those responsible for killing her parents. Her determination made her well-known among other Shadowhunters, who often said that she might be the best Shadowhunter of her generation—the next Jace Herondale. Additionally, Emma had also become terrified of the ocean because of the nature of her parents' death; though she is capable of traversing the waters, Emma has recurring involving the ocean.

At one point, she met fellow young Shadowhunter Cameron Ashdown, and the pair dated. Emma eventually got tired of him and broke it off, though she would sometimes take him back. The pair has been in an on-and-off relationship that the Blackthorns, particularly Livia, were familiar with.

In the summer of 2012, the Blackthorns left to visit their relative Marjorie in Sussex. During this time, newcomer Cristina Rosales arrived, and Emma briefly got back together with Cameron. Meanwhile, Emma and Cristina became very close. Emma scored a new lead on her investigation of her parents' murders from Johnny Rook a routine transaction The Blackthorns returned mid-August; shortly after, Iarlath of the Unseelie Court and Kieran of the Wild Hunt arrived and returned Mark to his family.

Meanwhile, Emma and Jules developed deep romantic feelings for one another—feelings both knew they cannot act upon as their Law forbade parabatai from being together. Both actively fought against these emotions, but the culmination of their developing feelings came one evening after Jules saved Emma, and they slept together on the beach. Though the pair had decided to somewhat accept their feelings while keeping their liaison a secret, Emma decided to once again distance herself from Jules after finding out from Jem what happens when parabatai fall in love. In an attempt to push him further away, Emma enlisted Mark's help to convince him and the others that they were in love and were together.[1]

The curse

Having solved the mystery surrounding her parents' deaths Emma focused solely on protecting Julian from the effects of the parabatai curse and awkwardly maintained the appearance of a relationship with Mark, successfully pushing Julian away. Her and Mark developed a close friendship during this time and would spend hours talking about their feelings. Emma also told Cristina the real reasons behind their relationship, on Mark's request.[6]

Emma's apparent relationship with Mark put a strain on her relationship with Julian, resulting in some heated arguments between the two of them, especially when Emma abruptly "broke up" with Mark for the sake of maintaining the appearance of his relationship with Kieran, who had forgotten his betrayal of Mark and their subsequent break-up.

Emma and Julian reconciled while on a mission in Cornwall to find the newly resurrected Annabel Blackthorn. Staying together in Malcolm Fade's cottage they were forced to interact to complete the mission, and after returning from a confrontation with Annabel where they managed to melt a stone church Emma realized that her plan hadn't worked and Julian still loved her. Julian mistook her shock for disgust at his feelings and they argued once more.

They made up, however, after fighting off four of the Seven Riders. Returning to the cottage from the battle Emma broke down and admitted that she loved him as well. They then slept together, and Emma told Julian about the parabatai curse. Julian in turn told Emma that the Seelie Queen had revealed to him that she could break the bond completely, however this would result in all parabatai bonds being broken as well.[6]

After talking with Magnus Emma and Julian decided to tell Robert Lightwood about their situation so that Emma could be exiled and the parabatai bond muted. Julian—by manipulating Robert through the mention of his own parabatai—managed to persuade him to give Emma an exile with special circumstances. However, Robert was later killed by Annabel at a Council meeting, along with Livvy, leaving Julian heartbroken and their plan in shambles.[6]

Personality and traits

Oh dear, did I just drop that giant broadsword on your head? I guess I did! Must be because I'm blonde.

–Emma, Cassandra Clare on Tumblr

Emma is passionate about fighting and training—and killing, when she's in the mood. She is a fierce warrior and is very skilled for someone her age, attaining her aptitude by striving hard towards a purpose. She is also quite sarcastic but is easily offended and has a temper.

She is incredibly driven and accounts for her status as the best Shadowhunter of her generation as being a result of her determined training. People who know her would say that she is careless and reckless about her life, because of her tendency to jump into danger willingly.

She is especially caring towards the Blackthorns.

Physical description

Emma is often seen as beautiful and extremely attractive. She has brown eyes, long, pale blond hair, and pale skin. As an effect of working extraordinarily hard at her training, her body is strong, tough, and scarred. She has a deep scar up her right arm, which she got when she was young for hugging her sword Cortana.

Skills and abilities

  • Nephilim physiology: Being Nephilim, Emma possesses a variety of enhanced physical and mental abilities granted to her by the blood of Raziel in her veins and also by the angelic Marks of the Gray Book. She also has power to perform tasks unique to their species, such as the ability to use and call on the power of angels for their seraph blades. This includes enhanced strength, agility, stamina, and coordination, which only improves over time and practice—something which Emma has enough of, given that she is pretty determined to become the best Shadowhunter of her time.
  • Runic magic: Due to the angel blood in their veins, all Shadowhunters are able to apply runes on their skin without any real danger. These Marks, in turn, give varied effects that serve to benefit the wearer.


  • Stele: Emma owned a stele given to her by Jace when she was twelve. Though steles were almost disposable to Shadowhunters, Emma took special care of it because it had been a gift from Jace. The stele itself was also Jace's first stele. It has a carved handle made from demon bone.[7][8] However, Emma was forced to give it away to a phouka in order to pass through the moon gate into the Faerie lands.[6]
  • Cortana: A sword that has been passed down through the Carstairs family for generations, which defaulted to Emma after the death of her father. Emma had yearned to inherit and use the sword as a child.



Emma and Julian are parabatai and the best of friends. Julian and Emma have spent their whole childhood together and have grown intimately close. In August 2012, Julian and Emma both realized that they had developed feelings for each other that parabatai are not supposed to have: love. Though they tried to hide it, the tension became undeniable and they had sex despite their reservations. After Emma found out the real reason behind the rule against parabatai falling in love, she claimed to not love him to push him away to save him.

They eventually admitted their feelings to each other and resolved to find a way around the curse together.

When Emma was young, she had a crush on Julian's brother, Mark—one she eventually grew out of. When he returned, they became good friends and companions. After Emma called things off with Julian, she asked Mark to pretend to be in a relationship with her, to which he responded by asking if they really had to lie about it. While pretending to be in a relationship they grew even closer as friends, with Mark often sleeping in Emma's room.


Emma and Cristina quickly got along after they first met. They became very close, and Emma trusted Cristina enough to tell her about her mission to investigate her parents' deaths. They train and go out on routine missions together, and Cristina understands the things Emma is dealing with. Both support each other, though Cristina did not immediately open up to Emma and kept some things from her past to herself.

From the day Clary came to comfort Emma after her questioning, they became friends and confidants and have kept in touch since.



See more here


  • Emma is left-handed.
  • Emma hates video games.
  • Emma does not like coffee, but she likes the feeling of holding a hot mug.
  • Emma has a trunk full of her parents' belongings, including the suit her father wore to his wedding.
  • Emma's middle name, Cordelia, is shared with her own mother's and that of a distant Carstairs ancestor, Cordelia Carstairs.

  • She was initially meant to have dark blue eyes before it was changed to brown.[9]


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