Hello and welcome, or welcome back, to our monthly trip into the world of Shadowhunters for Shadowhunter Saturday. Last month, Ellie, Fiona and I read and reviewed The Red Scrolls of Magic, which was a five star read all around. We all fell more in love with Alec and Magnus, and enjoyed adventuring outside of New York with them after the conclusion of the first part of The Mortal Instruments. I’m still reading The Infernal Devices in my own time (review for Clockwork Angel here, and Clockwork Prince here) but it hasn’t changed my enjoyment of our readalongs at all!
Just like last time, we’ve got a set layout for these posts. I’ll post my spoiler free review of the book to begin with, and then we’ll move on to the discussion element of the posts, where I’ll be posting Fiona’s answers, and there will be spoilers. I’ll post a warning before we get to that bit, so you can still enjoy reading the review without reading any spoilers if you don’t want to. You can also read what Ellie and Fiona have posted, along with Ellie posting my discussion points, and Fiona posting Ellie’s, below.
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.
Rating: 4 Stars
To start with, let me say that I think whichever book would have happened to be next in the reading order we’re following (the one recommended by Cassandra Clare) would have had a hard time comparing to The Red Scrolls of Magic. That book was such a blowaway winner that it was always going to be hard to follow. That said, I don’t think this was one of Clare’s stronger books, and – possibly – the time difference in her writing from Red Scrolls, throwing back to City of Fallen Angels, didn’t help.
I did enjoy seeing some of old favourite characters again, having not seen them (in my case) for two Shadowhunters books now, and it was a welcome comfort for a bit of familiarity, almost like being reunited with some old friends. For all their flaws, I do love the Gang, and I love Clary and Jace in particularly, regardless of how annoying they can be. It was also brilliant to see some proper badass women, not just with Clary’s advancement in her training, but that of Izzy and Maia too, working together.
It wasn’t the most powerful of the books, but I did enjoy the build up, and the connections between all the bits of seemingly meaningless information, gathering them up together to create a full picture, which is always a strength of Clare’s writing.
I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about the book; it’s not perfect, but it did leave me wanting more, and the ending, which we’ll look at a bit further down the page, was one of the biggest cliffhangers I’ve come up against!
Now the spoiler section is going to start! Look away now if you’re not ready for them.
These are Fiona’s answers to our discussion points. You can find Ellie’s answers on Fiona’s blog, and my answers on Ellie’s. Trigger warning for dead babies.
What was your favourite moment?
I don’t know if I really have one in this, to be honest I don’t think I really connected with anyone in this book. I think the moment that caught me out the most was when Simon bit his teenage fan but I wouldn’t say it was a favourite moment just one that stood out.
Who was your favourite character?
In this book it has to be Isabel she is the only one that seems to keep her head on straight and have a bit of maturity. She kept her cool and showed forgiveness to Simon when he really didn’t deserve it after he treated her. I think I have to admit this series really does suffer without Magnus playing a big role.
Have your thoughts about the series changed?
This is by far my least favourite book so far. I think the fact that we are reading them in a different order than they were written shows how much Clare’s writing improved between MI and ID. This one went back to Clare’s habit of cramming everything of note into the last 3rd of the book and the rest of the book kind of goes no where.
How do you think the characters developed with what happened in the book?
They really didn’t for me. In Fact it was a bit of a backward step for some of them. Simon lost all charm, Jace was worse with his pouting and aloof behaviour, and Clary kind of lost the backbone she developed in book three. Again only Isabel seemed to hold her own and show some maturity and grace in this book.
What do you think is going to happen next?
I do think the set up of Sebastian being the big bad through Jace will be interesting. And hopefully the next book will have some more substance to it because of that and won’t just be a bunch of teens talking at each other without actually talking to each other.
“You don’t get to decide,” she said, “where I go, or when.”
“I know.” His voice was ragged. “I’ve always known that about you. I don’t know why I had to fall in love with someone who’s more stubborn than I am.”
― Cassandra Clare, City of Fallen Angels
Plot Point Discussion
Simon dating Maia and Izzy:
Gah I really hate this we didn’t discuss being ‘exclusive’ as an excuse for two timing people. It takes a single honest conversation with each person to determine where a relationship is it’s not that hard even for teens. Also this whole ‘he is super sexy now he is a Vampire’ thing is just bleh. You would think after everything they went through they would have learnt something but it just feels like they hit reset. It really put me off Simon as a character.
Camille offers Simon a deal:
I thought that this was going to be more than what it was. I thought oh maybe some interesting political machinations my two Vampire covens vying over Simon’s abilities with his day walking and the mark of Kane, but like a lot of this book it didn’t really go anywhere. It just sort of ran around in circles for a bit then didn’t actually mean anything in the plot. (i am going to be saying that a lot)
Simon tells his mum he is a vampire:
This could have gone so many places but again just doesn’t. The whole mind manipulation kind of felt a little bit of a cop out. Especially as we saw no repercussions from it in this book hopefully the next book this will be dealt with but this scene just felt like a way to get Simon out of his mums house to make it easier to stage other scenes in the book. Again another plot point that didn’t actually lend any real substance to the plot or go anywhere.
Jace and Clary in the park; Seelie queen appears:
I think in the movies this is called a Mcguffin, an event that it purely used to move the plot along but has no significance to the plot itself. She was there to tell someone about the dead shadowhunter and not much else, it didn’t lead to anything and could have easily been done by any other character.
Shadowhunters being murdered in various patches of the city:
This was mainly ignored for a large part of the book cropping up to just kind of explain why all the adults were busy. Then was very shoddily wrapped up as Camille did it, cause Lilith wanted Nephilim blood. This book just had so much lazy plot.
Clary uses a rune to make the dead speak:
This was actually cool and interesting and it was one scene that went nowhere and was never spoken of again! There could have been so much plot in this really interesting aspect of Clary but nope she does it, its cool as fuck and creepy as hell but once its done we just don’t talk about it again for the rest of the book! I think that’s what is so frustrating about this book there are just a million loose ends and plot points that have so much potential and none of them seem to amount to much.
Jace starts avoiding Clary
I hate the miscommunication trope, the whole plot of this book revolves around a bunch of people in there late teens not talking to eachother for various reasons and the whole thing could have been over by chapter two if they had just had a conversation. I am sick of the Jace “I love you but I can’t have you act”. Dude you got the girl, shut up and be happy.
Clary and Jocelyn visit the hospital and discover someone is trying to make more babies like Sebastian; they see a dead baby with clawed hands and black eyes:
Again a potential for a really poignant and meaningful plot that is just swept under the rug. Jocelyn’s pain and hurt was kind of ignored, which angered me a little as so much could have been talked about there. Especially with Clary, all this really served it to send Clary off on a little bit of a wild goose chase and give some weird cultish vibe to Lilith’s plot with Sebasitan. I think a lot of this book focused on the wrong parts of its plot. If less time was dedicated to the angst and more went into there being an actual story such as these plot points it would have been a more impactful and interesting story that would have had some meaning to it. Instead we got the blah version.
Simon moves in with his new bandmate Kyle, who Jace reveals to be a werewolf:
Another Mcguffin, Simons dating two girls, instead of making him act like a man and choose potentially annoying the Maia stans lets bring in a sexy warewolf dude for maia to partner up with so Simon and Isabelle can skip off into the sunset together. Why?
Simon bites a human for the first time. The girls confront him about two timing them:
Finally a scene with some genuine impact and consequence. This actually took me by surprise and I was really happy with how Simon reacted, the gamut of emotions he went through when he bit Maureen was really interesting. And him getting called out by Isabelle and Maia rocked, as he had that coming.
The Church of Talto, Clary takes Jace to the Silent Brothers for help:
It was great getting to see Clary hold her own a little and I like that she called Isabelle for help instead of the guys. I wish we had gone into it a bit more and that there was just a bit more to the fight scene. It again just seemed rushed and that Clare just wanted to get the characters back to the institute so they could talk without actually saying anything to eachother some more. When Jace finally opens up to what is going on it just seems like there is such an easy fix to it and it’s like see if you had said this in chapter one we could have avoided 12 chapters of sulking.
Jace is tricked by Lilith in his dream:
This was a little heartbreaking, Lilith using Max’s image to get to Jace in his dream was so horrible especially as we really only get Jace’s perspective of the grief the family is feeling about the loss of Max.
Luke and Jocelyn’s engagement party, i.e.; the night that all the teenagers disappeared and no one seemed to notice:
Le sigh. Again this whole plot just hinges on the grown ups being distracted and the teens running amok.
Jace, under Lilith’s control, kidnaps Clary. Simon is also led to Lilith:
Why does the entire plot of Cassandra Clare books happen in the last two chapters! It just becomes rushed and we dont actually get to spend any time in the interesting bits. Jace being possessed by Lilith could have been super interesting but we get like 10 pages worth the same with Simon being enticed toward Lilith it just seems to come out of nowhere and then disappear just as quickly. At least the taking Clary hostage seemed like a pretty smart move on Liliths part but she is the mother of demons you would expect her to have some kind of intelligence compared to the teens that have already proved they do not.
Maia, Alec, Izzy and Kyle / Jordan follow to Lilith’s hideout:
Why would Lilith put her actual hide out address on a random business card? We already know she has at least one other with the church of Talto, why not rent a random office and stick a henchman there to attack anyone that wasn’t simon? Seriously the plot holes! So convenient that they just happened to have the correct address despite all Liliths wardings etc.
Lilith forces Simon to drink some of Sebastian’s blood so he can bring him back to life. Clary tries to convince the possessed Jace that Lilith will still kill her. She remembers the acid attack on the rune and defaces the rune controlling Jace:
Again all the good plot right at the end of the book. Threatening Clary to get leverage on simon Good! Clary using Jace’s own teaching to help jace even if that means hurting him temporarily Great! It was awesome to see Clary have some smarts for five minutes. But again over in a couple of pages. This is all the plot the book has give us more.
Simon defeats Lilith with the Mark of Cain:
Great use of Simons power against Lilith but again its the speed at which this is all nicely packaged up. We literally get one chapter of plot, of the action scenes that Clare is actually good at writing and then it’s done, everything is nice and neat the big bad is poofed into a bunch of salt and it’s over.
Clary and Jace share a moment on the roof where she swears she loves him unconditionally, and knows he would never hurt her on purpose. She goes downstairs to make sure her mum doesn’t see Sebastian’s body, leaving Jace alone:
At this point in time I was more than done with the Jace pity party, this book has kind of put me off of their relationship.
Sebastian uses the control of the rune he has over Jace to control Jace once again, finishing the book with Sebastian alive and under his power:
This should have happened in the middle of the god damn book and then we would have had and actual plot. This was interesting but I should have to read 300+ pages of plot that leads nowhere for it to finally do something interesting. At least I can hope that something might actually happen in the next book.
Thank you for coming along for the journey through this book! Next month we’ll be reading City of Lost Souls, and it’ll be interesting to see where everything goes after the finale….