Okay, I have spent so much time putting this off, but I’m finally getting around to posting this review. I’ve already read three other books since I read this book, so hopefully my memory will allow me to include all of the details that I originally wanted to include in this review. Anyway, let’s get to it!
So, I’m finally understanding all of the hype behind Cassandra Clare’s books. I didn’t really understand it after I read the first book in this series, but now it’s becoming clear why she is so loved in Young Adult Fiction world. In short, I loved this book!
If you aren’t aware of Clare’s books, City of Ashes is the second book of six in The Mortal Instruments series. This series follows a girl named Clary, who finds out she is a Shadowhunter: a person who hunts and kills demons. Upon finding this out, her mother goes missing, and she must team up with the attractive, mysterious Jace, and his group of Shadowhunters, to find her mother.
Honestly, I can’t review this without spoiling anything for anyone who hasn’t read this series. If you like fantasy/YA and you haven’t picked this series up, or if you read the first book (City of Bones) and didn’t like it as much, I highly recommend getting to the other books then gauging whether you like it or not. The characters are awesome and all very different from each other. Their personalities will have you laughing out loud at the witty comments and snarky remarks, especially from Jace and Simon, especially when talking to each other. The first book does have a lot of world building, but City of Ashes was so much better, and I hear it only gets better and better with each book.
This book was so much fun to read! While the first book dragged so much for me, this book was a lot more action-packed and exciting.
First of all, the beginning of this book was pretty dark with the Prologue of Valentine forcing the warlock to conjure up the demon of fear, Agramon. It showed just how vicious, determined, and ruthless Valentine is, making him a great villain to hate. And that remains the same throughout the entire book. His character remains this unchanging, evil person who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. For example, he enslaves demons, his mortal enemies, in order to get all of the mortal instruments. One of my favorite portrayals of what an evil person he is happens when the Inquisitor imprisons Jace as a ploy to get the instruments back from Valentine. She is under the impression that paternal love is stronger than any goal, and that surely, Valentine would trade the sword and the cup in order to save his son. Jace points out that her plan is flawed, claiming, “You don’t know my father. He’ll laugh in your face and offer you some money to mail my body back to Idris.” Then later, Jace’s typical snarky side comes out immediately after when he says, “Come to think of it, he’ll probably make you pay the shipping charges yourself.” (p. 306) Of course the reader already knows this to be true, but Jace’s remarks about Valentine to the Inquisitor solidifies that knowledge and makes us hate him even more.
Clary and Jace
One thing that frustrated me so much (in a good way) is the “sibling” relationship between Clary and Jace. It’s so annoying because they’re so in love with each other, and for a while, it seems that they’re brother and sister, but then that seems to become less and less clear. Everyone hated the scene with the Seelie Court because they found it “incestual,” but I guess my refusal to believe that they’re related allowed me to love that scene. Clare describes their kiss in the Seelie Court so beautifully: “She felt the brush of his lips, light at first, and her own opened automatically beneath the pressure. Almost against her will she felt herself go fluid and pliant, stretching upward to twine her arms around his neck the way that a sunflower twists toward light. His arms slid around her, his hands knotting in her hair, and the kiss stopped being gentle and became fierce, all in a single moment like tinder flaring into a blaze” (173). This kiss is way too beautiful and way too passionate for them to actually be related.
When we learn about the background concerning the death of the Inquistor’s son, I formed my own theory. Every time Jace is compared to Valentine, it is mentioned that they don’t bear any striking resemblance (and neither do Jace and Clary BTW), but they do have the same charm and snarky wit. Then, we learn that the Inquistor’s son, Stephen Herondale was part of Valentine’s circle, but was killed. His 8-month-pregnant wife was so grieved, that she killed herself. My theory is that Jace that unborn baby. He was saved after she killed herself, and raised up by Valentine. He wouldn’t look like Valentine, but he would act like Valentine if he were raised by him! Therefore, Jace and Clary are not related! To further enforce this theory, we have the scene with Jace and the Inquisitor on Valentine’s ship during battle. The Inquisitor pulls Jace aside to talk to him, but their encounter becomes pretty strange:
“She jabbed a finger at his shoulder. ‘When did you get that?’
Jace looked down and saw that the spider demon’s poison had eaten a hole in his shirt, leaving a good deal of his left shoulder bare. ‘The shirt? At Macy’s. Winter sale.’
‘The scar. This scar, here on your shoulder.’
‘Oh, that.’ Jace wondered at the intensity of her gaze. ‘I’m not sure. Something that happened when I was very young, my father said. An accident of some kind.Why?’
Breath hissed through the Inquisitor’s teeth. ‘It can’t be,’ she murmured. ‘You can’t be -‘” (390).
We never find out what she means by this because she sacrifices herself to save Jace. But we know she realized that he was her grandson. The scar had to be a family birthmark of some kind, and that realization is why she would even let herself die to protect him! CLARY AND JACE ARE NOT RELATED PEOPLE. I’M CALLING IT NOW.
Don’t even get me started on the ending when Clary was finally going to tell Jace she loves him, and he cuts her off saying he’ll just think of her as a sister from now on, because that was what she wanted (OR SO HE THOUGHT). UGH Cassandra, why do you do this to me?!
Clary and Simon
Lastly, we have the negative part of the book. The relationship between Clary and Simon pissed me off so much. Clary knows that she doesn’t see Simon that way, so I found it to be kind of a bitch move to lead him on and agree to be his girlfriend. She kisses him and even makes out with him in bed, all while knowing that she’s in love with Jace. The whole relationship dynamic was so messed up and disgusting to me. I thought it was really unnecessary. I was so happy (and very shocked, quite frankly) when Simon broke up with Clary. At least one of them realized that her feelings were way too ungenuine for their relationship to be okay.
I loved this book. I’m just so mad that I left Book 3: City of Glass at my house in California. Now I have to wait until December to continue the series! 😦
I hope you all enjoyed this review. If you’ve read the book, let me know what you thought about it! I’ll try to post more regularly!