I originally read the first 4.5 books back in 2011/2012 – I really enjoyed the first three, then lost interest with books four and five. Then recently, after watching Shadowhunters on Netflix, I decided to reread the entire series to see if my opinions changed. If I’m honest, I can’t remember most of my thoughts of the books from the first read because I wasn’t as concious of reviewing on sites such as Goodreads then, so my opinions will mainly be based upon my recent re-read.
There may be spoilers towards the end of this post… Sorry, they were pretty much unavoidable.
Book One: City of Bones:
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.
Original rating: 4* (July 2011)
I must admit, when I start re-reading the series, I half expected to not enjoy it that much. Pretty much the same way I did when I reread the Twilight series after a couple of years, but I was wrong. Although I knew where the story was going, it didn’t stop me falling in love with the settings and characters all over again.
Clary and Simon have the kind of friendship we all wish we could have with someone. There’s no fakeness between then and they know each other inside out. If I wasn’t such a Clace shipper, I’d totally want these two to be a thing.
Jace, Alec and Isabelle – There was a constant hint of “why can’t I be that badass” to them. They’re confident, have goals to be the best at what they do, and quite frankly they don’t give a shit about what people think of them. Especially Jace. Now, for a book boyfriend, he’s pretty high up there as he’s not only gorgeous, but he’s also strong, and there’s that cocky side to him that borders on arrogance, but never quite crosses that line. His one liners made me crack up more than once.
The story itself is pretty fast paced, and in any other book, Clary would irritate me with the way she charges into situations without thinking, but with everything going on, I think I’d most likely do the same. Plus, not knowing and understanding the rules gives her the scope to break them without realising she’s doing so.
The biggest surprise, during both reads, were just how funny this book is. As I mentioned, Jace’s one liners were brilliant and never felt forced or over the top, but all of the characters had their moments. This is what made the characters real and often reminded me that they’re supposed to be teenagers rather than in their early twenties.
The secondary characters are well suited to support the mains too. Magnus Bane – he is fabulous, and I so wanted to hate Hodge, but I just couldn’t. We all do things when we’re desperate, but… yeah. The supporting cast is just as solid as the main characters.
The twist at the end, even though I knew from reading before, had me biting my nails. I was so invested in Jace/Clary, I just couldn’t imagine them not being a thing.
Book Two: City of Ashes:
Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? Clary would love to spend more time with her best friend, Simon. But the Shadowhunters won’t let her go–especially her handsome, infuriating newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil–and also her father. When the second of the Mortal Instruments is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor suspects Jace. Could Jace really be willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?
Original Rating: 4* (July 2011)
I know I said I would be happy for Clary and Simon to be a thing if Jace wasn’t in the picture, but… no. It’s not working for me; sorry guys, I’ve friendzoned the both of you.
I love Jace, I do, but he irritated me a little in this book. His constant self loathing and putting himself in ridiculous situations annoyed me. Having said that, the way Clare has given us more POVs in City of Ashes gives the reader more scope into the characters (Jace in particular) and how they’re changing from book one into book two. More characters are introduced into this book which, in others would confuse the story, but somehow it merely adds to the Shadow World and how the mundanes, downworlder, and shadowhunters interact. There were plenty of characters I wanted to slap (I’m looking at you Maryse and the Seelies) which made the story feel much more rounded. Afterall, we can’t like all the characters all the time.
Simon, Magnus, and Alec get their own story ARCs which made me both smile and get teary. They were a little cliched, and often used tropes, but somehow, they fit the characters and how they were developing in the story.
Clary… I understand she’s trying to help her mum, I do, but in places she takes her frustration a bit far. The whole Clary/Jace problem must be annoying as hell too. I know I was willing for things to be different cause come on. It’s Clary and Jace. Having said this, her reactions are spot on for what she’s going through, completely. The same with Jace. If I’d fallen for someone, then told they were untouchable, I’d be pissed off too.
Now, I never spoke about Valentine before… he’s your ultimate bad guy in many ways, but also I think he’s more than a little crazy. He has a belief so strong that it’s twisted his ideals about his role as Shadowhunter. In some ways, this is the most realistic thing about any of the characters. How many times on the news have we heard about a person’s belief screwing with how they view the world? But, most of the time he’s just a huge arsehole.
Overall, this book encompasses more than City of Bones and gives the reader a far wider scope into how the Shadow World works.
Book Three: City of Glass:
To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?
Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Times bestselling series The Mortal Instruments.
Original rating: 4* (July 2011)
Okay… the ending of book two left me a little… whoa. Again, Clare uses a trope that has been used before, but she changes it up slightly, and I liked that. Simon is able to interact with people he’s known all his life and have some semblance of a normal life which makes me happy. This is a character who was seen as ‘Clary’s puppy dog’ because he followed her anywhere due to his fierce loyalty to her. Now he’s coming into his own and, naturally this brings him… issues. Mostly in the form of Maia and Isobelle. Bless him, when that goes up in flames… well, you kinda have to feel sorry for him. Yet, he’s a commodity now, and his story ARC is really interesting.
City of Glass takes us to Idris. Somewhere I’d been dying to read about since book one. Afterall, it’s the homeland of the Shadowhunters and the power of their origins and governments.
Of course, Jace and Clary have differing opinions about who should go and who shouldn’t. This causes even more issues between them and the tension jumps off the page.
Once again, all of the main characters are showing growth and are beginning to show hints of the adults they are destined to become. While Clary has the least growth, it becomes clear that she has a very specific path and journey that she needs to travel to unlock secrets, and what secrets they are. If I thought Valentine was an arsehole in book two, books three ramps him up into far more insane thoughts and actions. it’s because of him that Jace is much more tortured in this book than in any of the others. He still has the bravado and cockiness that he’s always had, but it’s clear it’s a front.
Then… there’s Sebastian. He kind of comes out of nowhere, and he’s a lot like Jace. The total belief in himself and cockiness, but there’s more of an edge to him than there is to Jace, a darkness. Jace believes he’s dark because of what valentine did to him, but Sebastian exudes that very same darkness without even trying.
Once again, the climax of the book took my breath away, and I may even have whisper-yelled YES at two am.
Originally, this series was going to be a trilogy, and this book was kind of the perfect ending, even if it did leave me wanting more.
Book Four: City of Fallen Angels:
The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.
But nothing comes without a price.
Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
The stakes are higher than ever in the #1 New York Times bestselling fourth installment of the Mortal Instruments series.
Original rating: 4* (November 2011)
After my first read, I’d seen plenty of people moaning that this series is being extended from a trilogy to a series of six books, but the way the third ended left a lot of questions unanswered. yes, Jace and Clary got their HEA in a way, but readers are left questioning things. I did wonder whether Clare would be able to fill another three books considering how fast paced the first three are.
This book was still fast paced, but in a different way. A lot of the narrative is more internal than the previous books. Jace… he’s withdrawing from Clary and their relationship – admittedly with good reason – because he’s afraid he’s going to hurt her. BUT HE DOESN’T TELL HER THAT! This is the main reason this book is a 4*. The lack of communication between characters that could quite easily solve a plethora of issues.
Simon has his own issues – still mostly Maia and Isobelle, but now someone’s trying to kill him… yet, that kinda backfires. A lot. He’s naturally shaken up, but because of this, we get a lot more interaction between him and Jace which brought a smile to my face simply because their banter is often hilarious. Add in the addition of Jordan, and the three musketeers comes to mind.
Overall, this book felt like more of a filler than a continuation of the plotlines from the first three books. It was based more around the character’s relationships, until the last quarter of the book where the action picks up again. This isn’t a bad thing as readers get to know their favourites a bit better, and Clare introduces yet more new to prevent the group becoming too stagnant. These additions work .
I can kind of understand why there is a big divide about this book, but I also understand why Clare wanted to write it.
Book Five: City of Lost Souls:
The New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments continues—and so do the thrills and danger for Jace, Clary, and Simon.
What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.
Original Rating: 4* (May 2012)
This is, by far, the slowest book of the series to date. It feels like not a lot is happening, yet what is happening needs to. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it’s how I felt.
Once again, Jace isn’t Jace. Continuing on from where City of Fallen Angels left off, and Jace is missing. Along with the creepy Sebastian. Naturally, that’s a big deal because he’s Jace, and Clary is desperate to find him. Who would blame her in all honesty?
What follows is a weird mishmash of stories. Clary manages to find her brother and her boyfriend, leaving the others behind to try and work out how to sever the connection between the two boys. With help from the Seelie Queen (yeah, right. I don’t like her), she has a way to remain in contact with Simon, but of course, that doesn’t last very long. damn you Sebastian.
While Clary is trying to find out the dastardly plan, Simon et al are fumbling their way through different attempts to find out how to save their friend before the Clave kill him just to be able to stop Sebastian. These characters kind of lose their sparkle and attraction in places, but there are glimmers of brilliance. However, the side arc involving Magnus and Alec near broke me.
While the book is slow, it’s worth it as once again, it’s the final quarter of the book that is the best. The action ramps up as we get the showdown that’s been very slowly bubbling away. Sebastian’s plan is worse than Valentine’s in that he’s not been swayed by his belief that Shadowhunters are the best of the best and are superior to everyone else. He’s not a zealot, he’s just plan evil.
The final battle had me holding my breath in places (hence 4* over 3) and when Clary is forced to make a snap decision, I nearly slapped her. I mean… how COULD she? Naturally, it worked, and thinking about it after the book ended, it made perfect sense after listening to the Angel’s advice to Simon.
While the majority of characters are happy that most of their major problems are over, poor Alec and Magnus are… no longer so happy. There’s quite a shift in their relationship that at times felt unreal, yet all too real in others. I hate Alec in places for even considering the deal with Camille, but also, I could understand what love does to someone – it makes them desperate. Hello, look at Clary and Jace for the last five books. Everything they’ve done is because of love – for each other and for their family.
Not my favourite in the series if I’m honest, but not a bad addition.
Book Five: The City of Heavenly Fire:
In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother.
Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.
The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?
When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned…
Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!
No original rating – 1st time read:
Okay… I put off reading this book for almost 4 years. I think a lot of that it due to my losing interest halfway through book five back in 2012. I hadn’t actually finished it the first time around, so I knew absolutely nothing about this book when I dived in at stupid o’clock in the morning.
Beginning with a completely different set of Shadowhunters in Los Angeles, introducing Emma, Julien, and his brothers and sisters was an obvious lead into a possible new series/spin off. They were great additions on the whole, but Emma/Jules felt a little too Clary/Simon for my liking, so it’ll be interesting to see where Clare takes these characters, if she does at all.
Sebastian is still at large… he and his Endarkened are rampaging through Institutes around the world building their forces. Eventually, we’re back in Idris and Clary and Jace (and the others) are being ignored by the Clave at how powerful Sebastian’s army actually is, because hey. They’re kids, what would they know? Sadly, they’re proved right (duh!).
Once the slightly waffly first bit of the book is out of the way, we get down to the nitty gritty. Clary, Jace, isobelle, Simon, Alec and Magnus decide that because no one is listening, they’re going to sort shit out themselves once and for all. Having to leave their loved ones behind on what seems to be a suicide mission is hard, and because of the whole Malec thing, they take some of these issues with them.
Once they’re on their journey, I have to admit I had moments where I laughed out loud. The banter between these characters is on point in this book. I nearly choked at Alec’s “I’m not your bitch” line because it was so unlike him, but perfect for the situation.
The romance side is a little… fraught. Because of what happened at the end of City of Lost Souls, Jace is hesitant in getting too close physically to Clary. Simon and Isabelle are dancing a Tango that neither of them realise they’re part of fully. It’s endearing to watch it evolve and unravel. Despite their surroundings, Clare manages to keep the majority of the dialogue and internal thoughts quite light.
I must admit, this book was the one I couldn’t work out. It wasn’t completely predictable, and had me not only laughing, but SOBBING. I rarely cry at books, but I’m not ashamed that parts of this book had me in tears. It was a rollercoaster in places.
While I thought City of Glass was a great end to the original trilogy, Heavenly Fire is the perfect ending to the series as a whole. All those nitty gritty lose ends are tied up, not always perfectly – but hey. What in life is perfect? I must admit, I do need one small novella… When Jace mentioned “Clary Herondale” I near died. So, could we have that short please?
On the whole, Clare doesn’t have the best writing ability in this series, BUT while reading I was able to suspend disbelief and escape reality, and in my book, that’s what makes a book or a series enjoyable. You want to stay with these characters, find out how they’re going to react or work out a problem. I am sure I’ll reread them again soon, but for now, I’m going to mope about how much I miss these characters. Thanks Christ for Shadowhunters… oh wait. Season One’s finished.
I’m off to try The Infernal Devices books…