City of Ashes – Cassandra Clare

imageBook Description (Amazon):

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.

My Review:

Executive summary: fun (and better than book 1).

So last week I was on my honeymoon (!!!) and I read this book and the next book. I debated doing one review for both, but in the end decided it was better to have them separated for posterity’s sake (or something like that).

So we left the previous book with Valentine disappearing through a portal and Jace being depressed. This book begins with a prologue in which Valentine uses a young warlock to summon a greater demon who then kills the young warlock and is bound to do Valentine’s bidding.

The Lightwood parents (Maryse and Robert) return with their youngest son, Max to parent Isabelle and Alec (sort of). Despite Jace being their adopted son, there is a lot of tension between Maryse and Jace when they return.

Clary and Simon are trying to regain something of a normal friendship, but when she switches the TV channel to Dracula, Simon leaves the room abruptly. (MOST OBVIOUS FORESHADOWING EVER).

Jace and Maryse finally discuss why there is tension. Maryse does not believe Jace that he never knew he was Valentine’s son. She believes that Jace is doing Valentine’s bidding from afar as a spy, and this is exacerbated when he can’t claim that he hates Valentine.

Clary tries to figure out what’s up with Simon who asks her if he seems different and then kisses her (so much for that friendship thing). Then Clary gets a call from Isabelle telling her that Jace is missing.

We meet Maia, a werewolf with a history of evil men in her past (brother, ex boyfriends) who is part of Luke’s pack. She is in the bar when Jace comes in to cause a scene and is rescued by Luke. Clary and Luke find out that Jace has been kicked out (or left because he is an angsty teen) by the Lightwoods and decide to all go and find out what is going on. They return to the institute and find Maryse speaking with Raphael (vampire from Book 1) about the murdered warlock who was drained of blood. Jace decides to stay at the Institute and wait for the Inquisitor to question him.

The inquisitor, who reminded me a lot of Professor Umbridge (aka unyielding and annoying) doesn’t believe anything Jace says and eventually throws him into the prison in the Silent City for further questioning.

Clary, Simon, and Maia all meet. Maia seemingly has an interest in Simon who is still fumbling along with Clary. Maia helps Luke with his bookstore and is growing into a more important character.

While Jace is in the Silent City, it becomes unsilent, as all the Silent Brothers are killed; Brother Bartholomew (Book 1) is killed just in front of Jace’s cell. Valentine small talks with Jace before he leaves the Silent City taking the Angel’s sword and leaving Jace chained in the cell.

Clary leaves Simon to go to the Institute in response to a text from Isabelle telling her that Jace is in jail. Clary, Alec and Isabelle decide it’s a great idea to break Jace out of jail under the guise of responding to a distress call from the Silent City. And possibly important, Clary got some marks before the upcoming battle. When they find Jace, Clary does some sort of “magic” (technically they aren’t wizards) to essentially blow apart the cell. When they return, everyone’s disbelief of Jace’s loyalty deepens and Jace is under Magnus’s guard.

Clary dreams of her mother. In the dream, Jocelyn gives her a mark on her arm which remains  when she awakes (this is never explained). She and Simon go to visit Magnus. The group (Simon, Clary, Magnus, Alec,  and Jace) discuss the murders (and bloodletting) of the warlock, the werewolf and the faerie. They determine that Valentine is using the blood of one of each of a downworlder child (werewolf, warlock, faerie, vampire) to change the sword into an evil sword, which would allow him to call demons forward to do his bidding.

Isabelle (over the phone) tells the group that the Faerie Queen requests their presence. With some dissent, they go and tell her what they have figured out about Valentine’s plan. She alludes to the fact that Clary and Jace are Valentine’s experiments and tells Jace to ask Valentine what blood runs through his (Jace’s) veins. Clary accidentally consumes some liquid and is therefore not allowed to leave (Faerie rules apparently) but the queen allows it if Jace kisses her (the kiss that will free the girl is the kiss that she most desires). **So this is where I’m starting to think that Clary and Jace are not actually related. Because this is kind of a lot of weird incest for a young adult novel…

Simon gets pissed about the sensuous kiss and disappears.

The doorbell at the institute rings at 3AM. Clary “knows” it is Simon and she, Isabelle and Jace go to investigate. They find Simon but they also find Raphael. Simon had broken into the vampire hotel, thinking he was becoming a vampire (from his time as a rat in Book 1). Because he broke into the hotel, he was fair game and now was fully in the process of becoming a vampire. They bury him (in a Jewish cemetery) and he rebirths as a vampire.

Demons attack Maia and Luke and Magnus is called to help heal them (and relationship drama surfaces between Bane & Alec). Raphael appears with a secret demon motorcycle for Jace who disappears somewhere in the night. He appears on Valentine’s ship (he coerced the location from the demon who attacked Luke) where he is held by the guards. Valentine offers his protection to all Jace’s friends if Jace joins him on the dark side. Jace says no.

It turns out Clary can draw new runes (a very unusual feat as all others come from “The Gray Book”) and she draws one to be Fearless. (Still unclear how the rune from the dream came to be though.) She marks Alec as a test and he starts telling his parents (who just appeared along with the Inquisitor) about his relationship with Magnus (until Magnus works some magic on him and shuts him up). So the test was a success.

The Inquisitor goes crazy on basically everyone. She had marked Jace with a tracing rune and knew that he had gone to Valentine. In her anger, she gives up that she had a son Stephen and you are led to believe something bad happened to him that is somehow connected to her insane behavior. She locks Jace’s hands and keeps him in a 4 walled cell. Her plan is to bargain with Valentine in exchange for Jace’s life.

Maia and Simon are captured by Valentine (through the greater demon Agramon who was actually Maia’s evil brother Daniel). They are the two remaining of the 4 children who need sacrificed for Valentine’s sword’s transformation (the previous werewolf killing wasn’t fully completed).

Jace and his super-human capabilities allow him to jump out from the cage that the Inquisitor put him in. Clary and Luke go to Simon’s house to find that Valentine has indeed taken him. Jace, Luke, and Clary meet with Magnus to go to Valentine’s boat to rescue Simon and Maia while Alec and Isabelle try to go tell the Inquisitor what has happened. Clary marks Jace with her “fearless” rune. They learn that the Inquisitor had a son, Stephen, who became Valentine’s right-hand-man after Luke became a werewolf. Stephen was killed while in the Circle.

An epic battle of Nephilium vs. demons occurs on Valentine’s ship (after he obviously rejects the Inquisitor’s deal). Clary finds and releases Maia who tells her that Simon is dead. Clary is captured by Valentine who re-emphasizes to Clary the weird incest situation she has with Jace. (Ok, ok, we get it). The other shadowhunters appear to help with the battle and the Inquisitor asks Jace about his star shaped scar and then she sacrifices her life for him as he is about to be attacked.

Jace kills Agramon and then finds Simon who he believes is dead. It turns out that Simon is just mostly dead (love that movie) and Jace decides to revive Simon using his blood. Simon and Jace go to rescue Clary from Valentine. Jace gives Clary her mother’s stele which she uses in another new rune that she has created for “Open”. This rune then proceeds to tear open the boat that they are on (not very well thought out because she and her friends are also on the boat). Not surprisingly, Clary and all her friends end up OK. The sun begins to come up and everyone is rushing to figure out how to get Simon to safety. But in a twist, Simon is now fine during the daylight. (I wonder if it has to do with Jace’s blood… 😉 ) Jace is invited back into the Lightwood family.  Clary and Simon agree to be just friends. Clary and Jace agree to be brother and sister (lol).

Clary walks back to the hospital to see her mother. At the door to the hospital, she meets a woman named Madeleine. Madeleine tells Clary that she knows the secret of how to wake up Clary’s mother.

Verdict:

3.25 stars (Am I allowed to do 1/4 stars. I guess so. I make the rules!) I liked it better than the first one, but it was still lacking in some cohesiveness. There were a lot of “coincidences” that seemed convenient. BUT. I did finally start understanding the runes a little more. And a little more about the whole “world” of all the different downworlders. I appreciated that. Enough at least to read the 3rd book that I also packed for the honeymoon! 🙂

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Filed under 3 stars, Book Review

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