City of Ashes

City of Ashes

Title: City of Ashes

Author: Cassandra Clare

Series: The Mortal Instruments, #2

Publisher: Walker

Release Date: March 28th 2008


Four Stars

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go—especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil—and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings—and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

– Blurb courtesy of

This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

She turned back to Jace. “Do you have to be so—” she began, but stopped when she saw his face. It looked stripped down, oddly vulnerable.
“Unpleasant?” he finishes for her. “Only at days when my adoptive mother tosses me out of the house with instructions never to darken her door again. Usually I’m remarkably good-natured. Try me on any day that doesn’t end in y.”

Everything has changed for Clary. She may have her mum back but she also gained a father and brother she never knew she had; a father who is the Shadowhunter’s number one enemy and a brother she was falling in love with. With her mother still in a coma it seems like the only solid thing in Clary’s life is Simon, Simon who is in love with her but who Clary doesn’t love back in the same way.

Meanwhile now it has been revealed that Jace in not Michael Wayland’s son but Valentine’s he has been kicked out of the Institute by Maryse Lightwood, back from Idris to try and fix everything gone wrong in her absence, and is facing investigation by the Inquisitor. In lieu of punishing his father the Inquisitor seems determined to pin all of Valentine’s crimes on Jace and punish him for them. It is while locked in the Silent City for such crimes that Jace is witness to a horrible crime, and witnesses Valentine steal the Soul Sword.

“But unlike you,” said Jace, “there is nothing of hell in us.”
“You are mortal; you age; you die,” the Queen said dismissively. “If that is not hell, pray tell me, what is?”

Downworlders are being killed and drained of their blood, but the Inquisitor seems determined to maintain her witch hunt against Jace, determined to find some evidence of crimes he committed against the Clave. Jace is held prisoner under the watchful eye of Magnus Bane but he, along with Clary, Alec, Izzy and Simon, know if the Inquisitor and the Clave are not going to do anything to stop Valentine’s plans then they need to; to protect the Downworlders and the Shadowhunters.

While I felt the first book was missing a certain spark that would have made it unique, that definitely wasn’t the case with City of Ashes. The plot seems to be moving in a set direction, giving Clary, Jace and the others an enemy to fight against, and with the Clave standing in the way there are plenty of obstacles they need to overcome. There are lives at stake and all the while Jace and Clary struggle to deal with their feelings and Simon struggles trapped in the middle of them. In this series I felt City of Bones built up the characters and the world so City of Ashes could take the story and run with it, amping up the tension and struggles the characters need to face before they can face Valentine.

…The Characters

“Desire is not always lessened by disgust. Nor can it be bestowed, like a favour, to those most deserving of it. And as my words bind my magic, so you can know the truth. If she doesn’t desire his kiss, she won’t be free.”

Clary has her mother back but she can’t unlearn everything she learnt at the end of the first book. Discovering Jace is actually her brother put a stop on their romantic relationship and now Clary struggles to move past the feelings she still has for him. She uses Simon to do that; trying to feel for Simon what she feels for Jace and feel for Jace what she feels for Simon. I loved reading Clary’s inner turmoil, she knows what she feels for Jace can never amount to anything but it is hard to convince her heart of that. She makes an effort to move past her feelings but it feels in vain most of the time when she just can’t forget him.

Despite everything she learnt in the first book Clary is still lost in this new world. She doesn’t know enough about the Shadowhunter to be one of them but she can’t go back to her normal life again, especially considering there is something in her blood that makes her unique among Shadowhunters. Clary is willing to learn but with Valentine on the loose it feels like she learns too late.

“Catching sight of himself in the long mirrors that ran along the walls, he stiffened in shock. He hadn’t really looked at himself in days, and last night had been a bad one. His eyes were surrounded by black shadows, his shirt smeared with dried blood and filthy mud from the East River.”

Jace has a lot of outer turmoil where Clary has inner turmoil. He opened himself up to her in the first book and after finding out she was his sister can’t quite close those emotions off and just be her brother. What’s more being Valentine’s son rather than Michael Wayland’s means he’s now public enemy number two, and bending the rules as he once did is now something the Inquisitor can use against him. Jace is still brash and reckless but there is more desperation in his actions now. It’s as if he doesn’t care about what happens to him anymore and it really makes you feel for him.

“In all the years I’ve known him, there’s always been exactly one place Simon wanted to be, and he’s always fought like hell to make sure he got there and stayed there.”
“Where’s that?”
“Wherever you were.”

Simon finally has the relationship with Clary he has always wanted, but it’s not perfect by any means. I loved Simon’s development in this book, something happens to him which really changes him as a character, but I didn’t enjoy his relationship with Clary. It felt like she was using him to try and forget Jace, and because she believed he wanted that from her, and despite knowing she didn’t feel the same way about him as he did about her Simon went along with it. What they had was not a healthy relationship for either of them and it really was doomed from the start.

We got to see more of the other secondary characters in this book, especially Izzy, Alec and Magnus, which I loved, and even got an introduction to more characters including Maryse, Max and the Inquisitor. All Maryse wants to do is protect her children, even Jace though she has a strange way of showing it. The Inquisitor though has revenge at the forefront of her mind, revenge against Valentine, and it blinds her to his actions which makes her a very conflicted character.

The Mortal Instruments series really picks up with City of Ashes. As Valentine starts putting his plans into action there is a lot more turmoil for the main characters to face, but this time they aren’t just fighting against Valentine, they’re fighting against the Clave. City of Ashes also takes the character development to the next level, upping the tension as all that was revealed in the first book starts to affect people’s lives.

What did you think of City of Ashes? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

38 thoughts on “City of Ashes

  1. Loved City of Ashes! Everything Cassandra Clare writes is amazing! Definitely continue reading the series because they only get better from here!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MY GOD I don’t remember this book at all. My memory of the TMI series jumps from the first book to the fourth book, I think. Everything in-between is kind of a blank. So it’s nice reading your reviews and revisiting one of my favorite YA series when I was younger. I’m thinking I’ll have to reread this story soon. I’m glad you enjoyed this book to and the story has picked up its pace. One thing I DO remember about this series is how well Clare portrayed Clary and Jace’s internal and external struggles. Character development is something she does very well. All her characters are usually well-rounded and multi-dimensional. I agree about the Simon and Clary relationship. I was never convinced of it. I thought she was using Simon, too, and that never sat well with me. He’s such a great character and he deserves more than that. I also like how the plot is becoming more complex and suspenseful during this book. Clare has a way of building up tension. Glad you enjoyed this one, too!

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    1. I was the same before I re-read it. I could remember bits from the first and third books but the second was just a hole in my mind pretty much. I guess unless the middle books has incredibly plot-relevant events they do tend to fade slightly don’t they? Oh that’s great, I’m glad you enjoyed my review for that reason Azia! This book was definitely better, now the characters had been introduced it seems like thing were able to speed up a bit in terms of the plot. The character development was amazing, especially in terms of Clary and Jace’s struggle about their feelings after the revelation that they’re siblings. I remember the first time I read this series I wasn’t a fan of Simon and Clary’s relationship, but reading it again I liked it even less.
      There was so much build up in this one. I wanted to jump into the third book right away, and luckily I could!
      Thanks Azia. 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, that’s usually how it works huh? If those middle books don’t impress they just disappear from the mind LOL. So sad how that happens. Yeah, your review definitely jogged some memories but I think a reread is necessary. I remember so little of the TMI series but I remember TID pretty well. Also, I don’t think I ever finished the TMI series. I think I actually have to read the very last book! *shame face* But one thing I remember clearly was never being convinced of Clary and Simon. They just seemed perfect as friends. I was so happy Clare used that friends to lovers trope, but I can’t be mad. I read this book when that trope was really popular. It kind of still is I guess?
        Glad you enjoyed this one and the third! Can’t wait to see what you think of the rest of TMI and TID! ❤ 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It really is, thinking back to some of my favourite series it’s always the middle books that are the faintest in my mind, whereas the first and last are a lot clearer. I guess it’s just because the second book isn’t introducing the world or concluding the story, it’s just carrying it on you know?
        It’d be great if you did re-read the series, and you can use it as an excuse to go back to TID again afterwards. Oh wow, well in that case you need to re-read the series don’t you? 🙂
        Yeah I guess back when this was released that trope would have been more popular. I think I felt the same when I first read these books but now I just wished they’d stayed friends.
        Well if what everyone’s been saying is true I’ll likely enjoy each book more than the one before it. Thanks Azia! 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Poor second book. Rarely does it get enough attention (although I’d say Catching Fire is a huge exception!).
        I barely remember the ending to the TMI series, or, at least the second to last book, so yeah, a reread must happen. Plus, I’d use any excuse to revisit the Shadowhunting world. It’s been a while.
        Hope you enjoy the rest of the series. I’ll keep an eye out for your reviews! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The Hunger Games series seems to be an exception to most things, but yeah I guess when it comes down to it people already remember the beginning and ends of stories more than the middle, it’s gotta be the same with trilogies.
        In that case you definitely have a valid excuse now. And yeah I reckon this will be a series I go back to a few times once I’m up to date.
        Thanks so much Azia, and yeah I hope so too! 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this book and entire series! It’s actually the series that made my best friend and I closer. But my goodness was that a long time ago. Reading your post reminded me of so many things from the books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it’s a great series I definitely agree, and it’s amazing you and your best friend have those memories from these book as well. It must make them extra special. It’s been a while since I picked these books up, decided that meant it was time for a re-read before I moved into the books I haven’t gotten around to yet! 🙂

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  4. I’m so glad to hear that you ended up enjoying your reread for this one more than you did for the first book, Beth! 😊 City of Ashes was actually my favorite of the series. I completely agree that it upped the action as well as the character development. I loved how we really saw the effect of the first book and how in the end it wasn’t just Valentine they were up against but the Clave as well. I remember really not liking the Inquisitor but things revealed later on made me a bit sad about her death. And I completely agree about the whole Jace, Clary, Simon triangle (if you can call it a triangle). It was like Clary and Simon were both using each other in different ways and all I wanted them to do was just stay friends. I also really loved all the scenes with Magnus. I definitely feel like he was in this one more. Anyway! Great review as always. I can’t wait to see your thoughts on the third one. 😁♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah this one definitely had the something more I felt was missing from City of Bones. I can see why this was your favourite of the series but for me that was City of Glass (which I finished reading today!)
      I liked being about to see the Clave in this book, even though it was just through the Inquisitor, and yeah they made a formidable enemy alongside Valentine didn’t they? Oh the reveals about the Inquisitor made me feel for her as well, especially adding onto that everything Jace discovers at the end of the third book.
      I do think this book would have been better if Simon and Clary had remained friends, they seemed to have a strong friendship so why try and make it something else and taint it in a way you know?
      Every scene with Magnus in is a favourite of mine. I can’t wait to get around to his anthology to read more about him!
      Thanks so much, and hopefully I’ll be able to have my review for the third one up soon-ish. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww yay! I’m so happy that you ended up loving City of Glass and I can see why that one was your favorite. It’s probably my second favorite. Though I also really loved City of Heavenly Fire and can’t wait for you to get to that one. 😊
        They definitely did. I remember being so frustrated with the Clave. Maybe even more so than with Valentine at times. They’re very close minded though a lot of progress was made where they’re concerned in City of Glass.
        Exactly, they had such a strong friendship and to do that whole triangle thing as a means to create drama and nearly ruin their friendship seemed pointless. One of the few things I didn’t like about TMI.
        I’ve still yet to read his anthology. I need to some time soon. Cassandra Clare is actually co-authoring a series with another author that is centered around Magnus too which I’m so excited for.
        You’re welcome, Beth!! 💕😊

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      2. Well given I’ve only read three books of what is a massive series I think it’s safe to say my favourite will likely change by the time I’m up to date with her releases. I’m excited to get around to the rest sometime.
        Oh god I understand the frustration there. Say what you will about Valentine but at least e had a plan and stick to it. The Clave just seemed to go around and around in circles getting nothing done.
        It would be nice to see books where boys and girls remained friends rather than trying to create either a relationship or unresolved feelings between them. I feel this series would have been stronger if that had been the case.
        Yeah I heard about the Magnus series. You never know by the time I’m up to date that may have even been released already! 😀 ❤

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      3. Right? I mean Valentine may have been the villain but there’s that and you knew what to expect from him. But, yeah, the Clave just stumbled around. I think if they decided less and listened more they would get something accomplished. 🤦 (which luckily they finally listened to reason)
        It would be! And I think that is a big reason why I don’t care for the best friends to lovers trope because I want to see a book where a girl and a guy can just be friends. This definitely would have been stronger if it had been that way.

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      4. It’s kind of like in Harry Potter, you have Voldemort who everyone hated but then Umbridge was introduced and she was so much worse in a way. It’s like Valentine is Voldemort and the Clave is Umbridge. At least that’s how I see it.
        And it took them long enough to listen to reason didn’t it?
        I don’t mind best friends to lovers trope, but it only works when there are equal feelings on both sides. That wasn’t the case in this book and yeah, it didn’t work at all for me. It would have been so much better to leave the two as friends and further develop their relationship that way. 🙂

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      5. Yes! That’s exactly how it is! The Clave is so Umbridge. Which is terrible in a way since they’re supposed to be leading the Shadowhunters.
        Exactly, it would have. I’m glad they eventually went back to just being friends and didn’t let everything that happened ruin their friendship though. 😊

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  5. Ohhh snap, character development getting even better than the first book? Sounds like you’re going to end up adoring this series! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In my opinion this one was a little better than City of Bones in terms of the originality but I get what you mean about it lacking that something really unique though. Have you read the third one yet? I don’t remember seeing a review for it on your blog, I’ve started it again and so far it is really good. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh that’s a shame. I guess if you weren’t in the mood for the story then you just weren’t in the mood, and it was obviously better putting it to one side than forcing yourself to try and get through it. Do you think you’ll go back to the series one day? 🙂

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