City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

(Cover picture courtesy of Gripped Into Books.)

A murderer is loose in New York City…

…and the victims are Downworlder children.  Clary Fray and her fellow Shadowhunters have a strong suspicion that Valentine, Clary’s father, may be behind the killings.  But if he is the murderer, what’s his true motive?  To make matters worse, the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, has been stolen, and the mysterious Inquisitor ahs arrived to investigate, with his eyes vigilantly targeted on Clary’s brother, Jace.

Clary will need to face some terrifying demons and even more terrifying family decisions.  No one said that the life of a Shadowhunter would be easy.

It’s rare that the second book in a series or trilogy is better than the first book (see Catching Fire), but Cassandra Clare has managed to pull it off.  City of Ashes has twice the suspense, romance and surprises of City of Bones.

It has many of the clichés of the first novel, but these are given some interesting spins that kept me on the edge of my seat (especially in Chapter 9: And Death Shall Have No Dominion) up until the very end.  City of Ashes may be my favourite book in The Mortal Instruments trilogy, but it does have its flaws.  Clary could still be substituted for any YA protagonist and Jace is still the stereotypical super hot but icy love interest.  The only redeeming thing is that we get to see many other characters’ points of view, which gives them a bit more depth than in the first book.

We see a bit more of Valentine, which I really like.  Many of the villains in YA fiction are neglected and end up having what I like to call Dr. No Syndrome: they’re just evil with no explanation or the explanation is really unbelievable.  No one really thinks of themselves as a villain in real life, so why should it be any different in fiction?  Valentine really thinks he’s doing the right thing and the perverted logic he uses makes it sound like he is the true hero, even if his actions do not match up.  I think many YA authors would do well to study Cassandra Clare’s enigmatic villain.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

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