Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Book: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release date: March 25, 2008
Source: Borrowed from local library
Series: The Mortal Instruments #2

Summary: (from Goodreads) As readers of series starter City of Bones already know, teenager Clary Fray is a Shadowhunter, a demon slayer who has the gift of spotting Downworlder werewolves, vampires, and faeries. She is also an adolescent in an abnormally dysfunctional family: Her mom is in a magically induced coma and her father is probably insane and undoubtedly evil. All of which places Clary in situations that would challenge even the most talented average American girl.

**SPOILER ALERT** If you haven’t read the series, this review may contain mild spoilers.

First impressions: This book picks up where the first one left off. Clary is trying to navigate a relationship with Simon, Jace is struggling to come to terms with who his parents are, and Clary’s mom is still in a coma. I was so anxious to get back into this world, and I was glad the plot picked up right away.

Lasting impressions: I actually liked this book better than City of Bones. I don’t know if it was that I was already familiar with the characters, but I related to them much more as a reader this time around. I loved the introduction of more Downworlders (especially the werewolf Maia), the Faerie Realm and a deeper relationship between Alec and Magnus.

Conflicting impressions: I still feel a bit squicky when Clary and Jace pine for each other. I just keep hoping they’ll find out they’re not related after all, especially given the steamy shots being released around the upcoming City of Fallen Angels (Book Four in the series).

Overall impressions: The world that Clare created for this series is so well-developed that you can’t help but get totally immersed in it. It’s no wonder her books attract thousands of rabid fans. The writing is seemingly effortless, her plots have the perfect balance of action and character development, and there’s always something unexpected. I am falling hard for this series.

Poor Clary is stuck between Simon, who loves her mightily and who she tries to love back, and Jace, who she loves but just found out is her brother. It’s amazing that Cassandra Clare gets us to root for Clary to love Jace, even though we know she shouldn’t. I love that she doesn’t back down from this tough issue, and she handles the line without it veering into totally icky territory.

In the first book Clary discovers she is a Shadowhunter, and in this book she discovers a special power. This continued growth serves the plot well and advances Clary’s standing among her fellow Shadowhunter and Downworlder friends, which allows me to believe that she is capable of holding her own in a fight. I dislike when a book or movie character learns something about themselves and then automatically has the ability to control that aspect. Here, Clary struggles to balance her innate abilities with the power to control them, making her believable and likable at the same time.

I highly recommend this series to paranormal fans (if you’re one of the few who haven’t read it yet) and am really looking forward to the next installment.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Wondering about my thoughts on the first book in The Mortal Instruments series? Read my review of City of Bones.

5 thoughts on “Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

  1. I started reading the first book, but something about it never drew me in. It was interesting and everything but I didn't feel too connected to the characters so once I put it down, I never picked it back up to finish it and read the rest. They're still sitting on my shelf too.

  2. Yay! I'm glad you're enjoying this series. I feel so bad for Simon. 🙂 I agree with you about having a character gradually come into their power and their ability to control the power. It gets kind of annoying when a character suddenly realizes they have all this power and then a few days later…they're a super kick-butt Mary Sue who can totally save the day!

  3. I liked this one better than City of Bones too. And I liked City of Glass the most and I hope you do too!I had the exact same feelings that you did about the whole Clary-Jace-Simon relationship thing. I was just so confused as to what to think and feel… Argh! I don't know whether to be angry at CC for putting me through that or impressed that she had the guts to do that to all her readers.

  4. I really loved these books and am looking forward to the next one. I reread them all after finishing the third one for tips on plotting. She is amazing at setting things up!

  5. @PatriciaLynne – There's no use forcing it if you can't get into it, but I would recommend skimming the first one and then trying this one. I did like it a lot once I got into the world a bit more. This one seems to have a bit more action.@Small Review – Yes, poor Simon! I can't decide if I love him or hate him, though. He's kind of annoying. Also agree with you about the Mary Sue stuff. You said exactly what I was trying to get at, so thank you!@Aylee – I know! Right now I'm feeling more impressed than angry. :)@Carrie – So true!

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