When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .
Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.
Executive summary: fun
I picked up this book from Half Price a few weeks back on a recommendation from a friend of mine. This book was sort of a Twilight-Harry Potter hybrid. The main character, Clary, had a lot of similarities to Harry (including the rhyming names).
The book begins at Pandemonium, what I assumed to be one of those “under-21” clubs where they listen to trance music and spin glowsticks. (I have never been to an under-21 club. And since I am well over 21, I probably never will.) At the club, Clary witnesses a blue haired boy being brutally murdered by two boys and a girl, none of whom her best friend Simon can see.
Her mother decides that they should spend some time away for the remainder of the summer. Clary is upset about it and storms out of the house to go see Simon’s bandmate recite poetry. While there, she sees Jace (one of the boys from the club) and learns that his tutor would like to meet her. They are about to leave when Clary’s mother calls and tells her not to come home. Like a teenager, she does the opposite, and stumbles upon a demon at her house. She accidentally destroys it by sticking the Sensor that Jace gave her down the demon’s throat. She’s injured during the fight, and Jace finds her and takes her to his home to meet his tutor, Hodge, and so she can heal.
When she awakens after the demon attack, she meets Hodge, as well as siblings Alec and Isabelle (the other two from the club). Hodge tells her about Valentine, the name the demon mentioned. Valentine was a Shadowhunter (supposedly dead) who tried to purge the world of “downworlders” (faeries, vampires, werewolves, and warlocks). He used the Mortal Cup to create more Shadowhunters to beef up the Circle with more warriors. And now the Mortal Cup is missing.
Jace and Clary return to Clary’s home to see if any clues exist to help understand her mother’s disappearance. While there, Madame Dorothea, the neighbor who runs a psychic shop, tells them that Clary’s mother was a Shadowhunter who was in hiding. When they return to the Institute, Hodge reveals that he already knew that Clary’s mother, Jocelyn, was a Shadowhunter. And also that she was a member of the Circle and was Valentine’s wife!
Hodge summons a “Silent Brother” named Jeremiah to read Clary’s memories since she has no idea how it is that she is able to see the shadowhunters (what Jace and the others are called) when other “mundanes” (humans) cannot. Jeremiah can only partially penetrate her mind as there is a block there, reminding her of the name Magnus Bane.
They very conveniently are invited to a party at Magnus’s house, where they find that Clary’s mother has been bringing Clary to Magnus every two years since she was born so that her memories of the shadowhunters will continue to be repressed. Simon, who is desperately trying to get with Isabelle, consumes a drink that a faerie made and turns into a rat. Simon the rat is stolen from Clary as they leave the party, and they go off to find the vampires they assume took him.
They go to the vampire hotel (which I pictured in my mind as the Clermont lounge in Atlanta), find the vampires, are helped by werewolves, and escape with Simon who eventually returns to being a human. (Convenient)
Insert awkward love triangle with Clary and Jace kissing which Simon stumbles upon. Then Simon tells Clary how he has always loved her and was using Isabelle to make Clary jealous…
Clary begins doodling in her sketchbook and realizes that by using the stele (something that I assumed was basically a wand despite the attempt to tell us that shadowhunters don’t use magic. Um, OK), she can manipulate the photos and reach into them. She then figures out where her mother has hidden the Mortal Cup that evil Valentine is seeking. She, Simon, and the 3 young Shadowhunters go to Clary’s house to talk to the neighbor (Madame Dorothea who they met earlier in the story) about the tarot cards (that Jocelyn painted for her) that she showed them previously. Clary uses the stele to reach into the card and remove the cup. Madame Dorothea then opens the portal and they are attacked by a Great Demon which luckily they are accidentally saved by Simon. When they return to the Institute with the cup, Hodge turns on them and gives the cup to Valentine who he has been supporting since the beginning. Valentine leaves with unconscious Jace, and Hodge flees.
Clary then seeks out Luke for help. Luke turns out to be a werewolf who used to be part of Valentine’s crew but isn’t any more. The two of them with the help of Luke’s pack find Valentine’s lair and attack. It turns out that Jace is also Valentine’s child (thought to be killed in the same fire that killed Valentine), which gets rid of that awkward love triangle now that Clary and Jace are siblings. Valentine escapes through a portal with the cup, and the story ends with Clary tending to her mother who is in a coma.
3 stars. Once you see the Clary = Harry thing, a lot of other really obvious similarities fall into place. Valentine = Voldemort (in love with Clary’s mother and trying to purge the world of “undesirables”). Luke = Sirius (they’re both even werewolves). Mundane = muggle…etc. etc. I can’t really give anyone props for thinly veiled plagiarism. However, I did find the characters mostly interesting and the story was pretty good (albeit too lucky or predictable at times). But I guess the main thing for me was that I never felt completely “in” the book. I don’t think there was enough explanation of how everything really worked to make me feel like I was in the story. I never really understood the runes or the inner workings of all of the different species (?) of creatures. I will probably read the rest of the books once I get my hands on book two (esp since I already own book three), but I am not holding my breath!