Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

city of ashesReviewed by Jen

Never in a million years would I have expected to come to hate the word “brother” with such vigor as I have over the course of this book. Part of that may be because Cassandra Clare took every possible opportunity to rub salt in this wound that she possibly could.  Yes, I get it. You are evil. You made them siblings. Or at least you made them THINK they are siblings.  But do you have to mock my pain?  Do you have to mention it every other page? Do you have to ruin a perfectly good word… to the point that the very sight of it makes my blood pressure rise?  (*sigh*) Of course you do.

Obviously, I’m still a bit perturbed by the big reveal on the relationship between Clary and Jace. But in my defense, it really is a central point of the book. Clary is in love with Jace.  Jace is in love with Clary.  Obviously, this isn’t the kind of love that siblings are supposed to share, so there is much angst to be had.  Fortunately, there are some other things going on, too, that kept the story moving and engaging despite this seemingly insurmountable roadblock.

Much of what happens here is in reaction to what we learned in City of Bones.  There is a big blowback on Jace, thanks to the revelation his father is the evil Valentine. His place in the Lightwood family and in the Shadowhunter brethren is threatened.  This, as Valentine pushes through a brand-new threat with the theft of another Mortal Instrument.  He’s targeting Downworlders in his latest plan and Jace must bear the brunt of everyone’s suspicion and malice. He handles it in typical Jace fashion, with an air of impudence and derision that are a clear front for his hurt and feelings of betrayal.  Meanwhile, Clary tries to deal with her impossible feelings for Jace by turning to Simon.  (That has bad idea written all over it.)

Despite indications to the contrary, I found both Clary and Jace more likeable and a bit less self-involved than in book one.  Of course, they are still kids and still have some less than flattering moments, but more often than not, they are sympathetic and brave –and they turn themselves inside out to do the right thing.  Kudos to Clare for making me care about their journey.

On top of that, the world is expanding. We’re learning more about pack life and what it means to be a vampire. We’re learning more about the inner workings of the Conclave (and meeting some adults!) We’re even meeting the Fae for the first time and folding them into the story.  I continue to be impressed with the world-building in this series and the more I read, the deeper I fall in.

The pacing is good.  The kids are equal parts frustrating and endearing.  The villains are love-to-hate.  And I was just sucked in to it all like a black hole I couldn’t climb out of.  I will, of course, keep reading the series to see where it goes next.  But I have a feeling that after this series, it will be a while before I can read the word “brother” again without snarling at least a little bit.

Rating: B

P.S. Doesn’t anyone in this series go to school?

Click to purchase: Amazon

City of Ashes
by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

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