If you haven't read City of Bones, the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, and you're a fan of dark urban fantasy, you're missing out on a great book. If you're considering reading it, you should probably skip this review, even though I'm trying very hard not to include any major spoilers. My spoiler-less review of the first book is here.
The second installment in the series begins not long after the conclusion of the first book. Clary's mother is still alive, but she's in a coma in the hospital, and no one knows when - or if - she'll wake up. Things are a bit awkward between Clary and Jace, who haven't figure out how to continue with their relationship, given certain startling revelations in the first book. Simon, Clary's best friend, has finally made his feelings clear to her, and she is coming to see him in a new light, as more than just the buddy he's been to her all his life.
It seems as though life cannot possibly get any more complicated, but of course it does. There are a series of murders of downworlder children, setting races already at odds with each other on the brink of war. Then another mortal instrument is stolen in a most heinous manner, and it seems that the murders are linked to the theft, which can only conceivably have been committed by rogue shadowhunter Valentine. Jace and Clary are caught up in a tide of events that pit races against each other - not to mention the shadowhunters themselves.
I am officially hooked on this series and am waiting impatiently for the third book to be published. It combines those things that I love most in this kind of novel - an unusual, well-built fantasy premise, believable, complex characters, funny moments, a gripping plot with unexpected turns of events, and writing that tugs at my heartstrings.
Let me include a couple passages that tickled my funny bone. This first one describes Isabelle, one of Clary's fellow shadowhunters:
"She looked like a princess in a fairy tale, waiting at the top of her tower for someone to ride up and rescue her. Not that traditional princess behavior was like Isabelle at all. Isabelle with her whip and boots and knives would chop anyone who tried to pen her up in a tower into pieces, build a bridge out of the remains, and walk carelessly to freedom, her hair looking fabulous the entire time. This made Isabelle a hard person to like, but Clary was trying."
And in this one, Jace has convinced his step-brother to change places with him, so that he can escape the watchful eye of Magnus, a powerful warlock, who's been holding him under house arrest. Isabelle finds out about their little plan:
"I can't believe you did it!" she exclaimed. "How did you get Magnus to let Jace leave?"
"Traded him for Alec," Clary said.
Isabelle looked mildly alarmed. "Not permanently?"
"No, " said Jace. "Just for a few hours. Unless I don't come back," he added thoughtfully. "In which case, maybe he does get to keep Alec. Think of it as a lease with an option to buy."
Isabelle looked dubious. "Mom and Dad won't be pleased if they find out."
"That you freed a possible criminal by trading away your brother to a warlock who looks like a gay Sonic the Hedgehog and dresses like the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?" Simon inquired. "No, probably not."
See what I mean? I am sure this series will be among my top books read this year.
Books in The Mortal Instruments series:
1. City of Bones
2. City of Ashes
3. City of Glass (To be published March 2009)
City of Ashes (#2 in The Mortal Instruments series) by Cassandra Clare (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008
Also reviewed at:
Nineseveneight Book Reviews
The Path or the Walker