Spoiler warning: Don’t read if you haven’t read up to City of Glass
The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her. His mother just found out that he’s a vampire and now he’s homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse that’s wrecking his life. And they’re willing to do anything to get what they want. Not to mention that he’s dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other one. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
If I had a guilty pleasure book series, it might be The Mortal Instruments…except I don’t feel guilty about it at all. I love these books. I think I always use the word “fun” to describe them and I’m going to use it again. They’re fun. I’m four books into the series and they’ve become my go-to books when I’ve just read a disappointing book or need something quick and light and (you guessed it) fun.
This book picked up about six weeks after the events of the last book. The only criticism I could have for this book is that it’s less exciting and fast paced than the other three before it. I could barely keep up with those stories but this one was more relaxed and slow. I can see why others reading the series might’ve been disappointed by the lack of fast paced action we’ve come to expect from Clare, but I can’t say that I was. As long as I love the characters, I’m usually happy to read another book about them. A good portion of the book was during a relatively calm time in their lives. They’re all trying to deal with what happened during the Mortal War and the effects of it on their lives and the Shadowhunter/Downworlder worlds. There was much more time spent just being with them as they navigated their new normal instead of fighting demons all over the place. While it was slower, there was still a level of intrigue that I expect from these books, with new threats and challenges introduced consistently.
If you read my review of City of Glass, you may remember me saying that although Simon’s POV was interesting and necessary, I wasn’t loving it. Well, that did a complete 180 for this book. He’s much more interesting now that he’s really figuring out the vampire world and becoming a more important player in the events of the story. Especially with the Mark of Cain! Aside from him, the other standout character in this book for me was Isabelle. I’ve always liked her but I just feel like we got to know her better and see different parts of her in this book. I would’ve liked to see more of her, though, because she wasn’t in a ton of it. Also, where is Alec? Why is he getting the cold shoulder in the last two books? There’s not nearly enough of him and it kills me because he’s such a good character. And Magnus! I want more. N0, I need more. Jace and Clary, as always, bring a level of drama that I can’t do without. These books have a good balance of action and emotional turmoil but this book was definitely heavier on the turmoil and lighter on the action. I also want to mention my appreciation for the realistic portrayal of teenagers again. These books feel young in the best way (quick, funny, somewhat light despite the serious nature of the events) and the characters act their age and are somehow completely normal teenagers while also being Shadowhunters, vampires and werewolves. It’s nice to see characters be not so serious all the time.
The last book ended on a completely shocking note and I had no idea how the series would continue. The slight concern that something unrelated to the first three books would be the threat in this book was definitely on my mind when I started it, mostly because it felt like CoG ended as if it were a trilogy. I had faith in Clare, but you never know. I’m so glad the challenges they’re facing aren’t completely unrelated to previous events and something new wasn’t just cooked up for more books. It feels continuous and like what we learn in CoFA was always the bigger issue. There were still surprises aplenty and it was just so entertaining. I’m obsessed with the world Clare has created. It seems like the further I get into the series, the further the story goes into things of biblical proportions (literally) and I can’t put the book down. The writing, as always, was compelling, descriptive, and fast paced. She’s a master of keeping readers on their toes—I love how she interrupts important scenes to jump to other important scenes within one chapter. It keeps me hooked and eager. The plot was slower for this book but it’s important to note that the story never felt slow or boring or uneventful. There was always something happening, even if it wasn’t on as fast and large a scale as I’m used to seeing from Clare. I was fully invested the whole time and my interest never waned. The ending left me screeching, frankly. The next book is going to be wild.
I debated giving this only 4 stars because it is slower and less action packed but then I shook my head at myself and realized that was dumb. It’s slower but that’s not a negative when you love the characters and the writing and the whole story has exploded into something even more catastrophic and entertaining than you were expecting.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. A quick complaint: The synopsis has a few lines that make this seem so shallow. Maybe they’re to get the attention of younger readers more interested in the romance aspect, but if you’ve read this far into the series, it seems unnecessary.