Review: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

city of heavenly fireReviewed by Jen

I know there was much debate over the merits of Cassandra Clare’s move to extend The Mortal Instruments series beyond the initial trilogy. I was kind of lukewarm over books 4 and 5, but I definitely feel like this final installment gives the series the ending it deserves.  It has some issues, don’t get me wrong.  But as far as the main story arc and the core cast of characters we have followed from the beginning, Clare delivers a fitting climax and a resolution that I found very satisfying.

So as the story begins, Jace is still infused with the Heavenly Fire; Sebastian is still out there with his army of Dark Shadowhunters; and Mangus & Alec are still splitsville.  Alec is mopey.  Jace and Clary can barely touch.  Everyone is just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  –And then it does.

Sebastian and his Endarkened finally make their move, attacking multiple Institutes and turning the Shadowhunters inside.  Only a precious few escape and survive.  It gets so bad, the remaining Nephalim all return to Idris for protection and to decide how to meet Sebastian’s threat.  Of course, the adults make foolish choices, forcing Clary, Jace, and the gang to strike out on their own to take down Sebastian… a task that seems almost insurmountable as we learn more about his plan and resources.

I won’t spoil the particulars, but I will give you some tidbits:

We lose some folks.  Clare has already said publicly that characters we know will die.  They do.

The resolution on the Clary/ Jace romance is satisfying.  I liked the way Clare handled this. I appreciated that she didn’t wait until the very end of the book and give us a rushed HEA.  I was also pleased with how she handled the sexual elements of the story.  They’re not ignored, but not too graphic for YA.  Since the Jace/ Clary thing was my biggest point of interest in the series, I am glad I could walk away with this resolved the way I would have liked.

The Sebastian/ conflict part of the story was good too.  Of course, it gets a little old and frustrating that all of the adult Shadowhunters seem to be useless idiots, but otherwise, I liked it.  I thought the emotional punches Clare pulled were well placed and had their intended effects.  The actions scenes were fast paced and I felt the danger.  And the way she wrapped it up really worked.

The big stuff… I was ok with.  But I had issues.

We spend a lot of time setting up the next spinoff series.  I have to say, this really annoyed me at the beginning.  Without reading a single interview or spoiler on the subject, it is beyond obvious who The Dark Artifices will center around.  I’ll admit that by the end of the book, I actually did kind of care about Emma, Julian, and Mark, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we spent too much time on these kids and their POV to serve this story.

By the same token, Clare had one foot firmly planted in the Infernal Devices world, which by the way, I didn’t read.  I’m sure that folks who read that trilogy will be thrilled for the resolution with Tessa and Jem and all that, but frankly I had no idea what was going on. I can only call Jem by name because I spent 45 minutes on Google, Goodreads, and Twitter trying to find out WTH happened in Clockwork Princess so I could figure out the significance of The Silent Brother’s past with Tessa and why they are so invested in the Herondale and Carstairs family lines.  It took me two days to determine if Jace is a direct descendant of Tessa and Will’s and this annoys me and I’m not even sure if I care because I didn’t even read those books, but it’s too much of an inside nod for those readers and it’s irksome. You wanna make a tie-in? Fine. But explain it so everyone else can understand too.

Overall, I liked it.  Obviously, there were parts I could have done without and I feel like the book could have been streamlined to keep the focus on this series on its own merits. But I think it will be a hit for fans of TMI, especially if they read TID or plan to jump into the next spinoff.

Rating: B/B+

Click to purchase: Amazon

City of Heavenly Fire
by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

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