Title: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments, #2
Release Date: March 28th 2008
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 goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.