Author: Cassandra Clare
Synopsis: 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.
How I got this series: Bought them
I considered reviewing only City of Heavenly Fire here, however, I felt that my opinions of COHF couldn’t be properly expressed without explaining my feelings towards the other books in the series, so I figured I should review the series as a whole, but with a focus on COHF.
Warning: This review will contain spoilers for the entire Mortal Instruments series, as well as some possible spoilers from The Infernal Devices.
Also, this is quite long, but if you scroll right to the end, you’ll get the idea.
I’m going to start by saying that I DID like this series.
I just want to make that very clear, because by the end of this review you’ll probably think I hate it, but I don’t, I swear. I just have a great deal of issues with it.
Of course, the majority of my issues are with the second half of the series.
I was first put off by City of Bones for two reasons: the title, and the cover.
Everything about the outside of this book did not appeal to me. At all.
Until I heard about this series called The Mortal Instruments.
When I discovered that The Mortal Instruments was that City of Bones book that I’d been seeing everywhere, I was a little surprised, but I read the first chapter on Cassandra Clare’s website, and I was hooked.
I read the first three books in the series (henceforth referred to as TMI1) rather quickly, instead of studying for the HSC*. I didn’t have any major problems with this half of the series.
Now, when I started reading the series, there were only 4 books out. So I read the second three books in the series (which will now be referred to as TMI2) as they came out.
I’m unsure as to whether or not this actually influenced my opinion of them.
Basically, I’m one of those people who think that the series should have ended after book 3…which sort of makes sense, considering the original plan had been only three, and then a spin-off mini-series (or something) featuring Simon.
I think my biggest problem with TMI2 was the sheer amount of characters. In TMI1, we had Clary’s POV for the majority, with the occasional Simon, Jace, or ‘mysterious bad-guy scene’ POV (and a couple of others). This wasn’t overly annoying in TMI1, but come TMI2, and suddenly there was a ton of other characters. And, frankly, it got to the point where you didn’t know whose story it was anymore. It became less about the characters, and more about the world in general.
And, yeah, I found that a little annoying.
Especially when we get to book 6, and there are still new characters being introduced. Not only are they introduced, but they are getting POVs.
Actually, almost the entire last book just felt like one (really long) set up for The Dark Artifices. I don’t know if that’s because I’m aware of the next series, and I know who it’s about, or what, but in my opinion, there was just too much Emma and Julian in City of Heavenly Fire. They’ll get their turn in The Dark Artifices, they didn’t need to take over The Mortal Instruments.
And they weren’t the only unnecessary characters in COHF. There was also way too much Jem and Tessa. I mean, there were no explicit spoilers for those who haven’t read Infernal Devices, but there was still too much.
And now, I’ll talk about the epilogue. Please note that whenever I talk about ‘epilogues’, I don’t mean the last chapter which is sometimes labelled ‘epilogue’. I mean anything and everything that happens after the bad guy is defeated.
I noticed in Clockwork Princess that Cassandra Clare seems to like long, drawn out, everybody-gets-their-moment epilogues. It’s like we need to know what happens to every single one of these main characters, and because there’s so many of them, this takes time. This happened in both Clockwork Princess and City of Heavenly Fire.
Specifically for COHF: it honestly got to the point where I was just like “why won’t this story just end?” They had defeated Sebastian (and I actually liked the way that happened), and they had returned home, and everything was fine.
But then, Tessa and Jem had to have mysterious, non-spoilery talks with a variety of characters. And Clary had to make sure that Simon was going to be ok. And Simon had to get his memory back. And Alec and Magnus had to get back together. And Clary had to meet Tessa. And there had to be a little more set-up in preparation for The Dark Artifices. And Luke and Jocelyn had to get married. And…you see what I mean. The book had already gone on for 500 pages, and there was still so much to happen.
Honestly, once I know who survived and who didn’t, I’m happy with a ‘and they lived somewhat happily ever after, but they were still sad about some things.’
And that brings me to another issue. We had a plethora of main characters, and not a single one died or had a lasting issue. I mean, sure, Jordan died, but I didn’t really care about him. He showed up in book 4, hung around Simon for a bit, gave the story a bit more subplot (which wasn’t really needed), and then died. Conveniently, this was after Maia had gotten over him, and was about to break up with him.
But, yes, something that really bugs me in books is when the epilogue is full of “how horrible, we lost so many people”, but not one of the people who died really meant anything to the main characters (or the reader). I mean, come on. There were so many main characters, and not one of them died in this ‘major battle that was so horrible because so many people died’.
Don’t get me wrong. I would have been devastated if anyone had died. But I also wouldn’t have been so disappointed. I was crying when Simon gave up his memories, but then he got them back, which makes it less of a big deal.
And I’ve just realised how long this is getting, and how it’s basically become a rant on ‘why I was disappointed in COHF’, so I’ll stop there.
*For those who don’t know, the HSC is the final stage of schooling for Australians, before they go on to university/general post-school life. It’s generally a very stressful time for students, unless you’re like me and decide early on that there are other, less stressful ways to get into uni.
I liked the story. I really did.
I just wasn’t a fan of the way it was told.
And, frankly, there were just too many main characters.