Welcome, or welcome back, to our journey through the Shadowhunters universe. Ellie, Fiona, and I have been making our way through the books together, once a month, and now we’re reviewing City of Lost Souls, the penultimate book in The Mortal Instruments part of the series. Ellie and Fiona have been doing this together from the very start, whereas I jumped in a bit later, having read some of the books solo, and while that was fun, reading them together has been so much better for multiple reasons. You can find our previous Shadowhunter Saturdays, along with my previous reviews, in the recommended reading order here:
City of Bones
City of Ashes
City of Glass
Shadowhunter Saturday: The Red Scrolls of Magic
Clockwork Princess (TBR this month!)
Shadowhunter Saturday: City of Fallen Angels
As previously for Shadowhunter Saturdays, the layout is the same. I’ll be sharing my spoiler free review, and then moving on the part of the post with questions and discussion points. I’ll be sharing Fiona’s answers, Fiona will be sharing Ellie’s answers, and Ellie will be sharing my answers. I love that we do it in this way, as it just makes it so much more fun, interactive, and we get to share each other’s posts as well. You can find Ellie’s post here, and Fiona’s post here. I’ll be sure to post the line when we get to the spoiler section so you can still read the review if you’re not interested in the spoiler section.
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.
Rating: 4 stars
First of, this book was a huge improvement on the previous, City of Fallen Angels, which was probably my least favourite of the books we’ve read so far. It really reignited my enjoyment in the series, and reminded me why I enjoyed the books after the last one now feeling almost like a space filler, having seen what came next.
I felt City of Lost Souls demonstrated some of the biggest character development we’ve seen so far, and especially comparing the characters in this book back to how they were in City of Bones, it really did show how much can change in a short period of time. It was an emotional rollercoster of a book, and did have me doing that thing where you gradually lean closer and closer to the pages, trying to get the words in quicker!
After everything that happened previously, it was a book that really stood out from the previous Mortal Instruments, being quite unique in many ways, especially in the dynamics that we see between the major characters, and those that have become more important as the books have progressed. Seeing Jace in a different light because of the link with Sebastian really showed what he was like without that connection, and it made my heart squeeze. There were so many emotional moments throughout these pages, but that costant underlying tension – and Sebastian himself – was terrifying.
What was your favourite moment?
Oh this is a difficult choice. I really liked the moment when Clary got one over on Sebasitan, or when she stabbed Jace. But I think the moment that stuck with me the most was the moment this book utterly broke me and that was when Magnus confronted Alec in the Old City Hall subway station. It still hurts.
Who was your favourite character?
I will always answer this question with Magnus, but I will say I really liked both Clary and Isabelle in this one. I think we got to see them both grow a lot more. We especially got to see a lot more of what was going on in Isabelle’s head and how she is struggling to cope with everything she thinks she needs to be strong for. I feel it’s the first time she really got to be a multi-dimensional character.
Have your thoughts about the series changed?
Yes, but only because the last book was so bad in my opinion that this one was its saving grace. I really didn’t like book 4 at all but this one gave a lot more maturity to Clary and Isabelle. It got darker and more entertaining and we also got to see a few of the adults trying to pull their weight too which was a change.
How do you think the characters developed with what happened in the book?
Like I have said previously I think the female characters have grown and matured and I really like their arcs. Simon I am becoming less and less fond of as the series goes on and the same with Jace to some degree they are becoming very one note. Simon took a small step back in the right direction in this book but I don’t know if it is enough to really save him as a character. Alec is getting a bit more personality but I think most of that is me projecting it one to him because of the personality he had in the Eldest Scroll series which was published after these books. Magnus is and always will be a sassy cinnamon bun.
What do you think is going to happen next?
Oh we are really getting to the end of the whole series and I am actually looking forward to the showdown of it all which i didn’t think I would say after book 4. I think it is going to be really interesting, especially with Jace’s new fiery powers. We have a lot of baddies to vanquish and order to restore so it’s going to be interesting to see how they tie the loose threads of Maureen taking over the New York Vampires, Sebastian still on the loose with his new Mortal cup, we have to restore it all back to the happy ending and I think it’s going to take a big big fight to do that.
Plot Point Discussion
Jace and Sebastian have disappeared – the Clave give up looking for them as a priority
Kinda predictable, we wouldn’t have a story if the clave just did its job, found the boys and dealt with the problem. Not only that but had they have kept looking they would have just killed Sebasitain and thus killed Jace. Them giving up saved Jace’s life as we had time to learn how they were bound together.
Clary and Isabelle get a lot closer
This was a really mature and nice part of the book. I liked that they finally seemed like they were bonding. So often books like these pit the female characters against each other for stupid reasons and its just nice to see the friendship actually forming.
Jace and Sebastian go to get Clary – Luke gets injured
At first I didn’t really understand why. I don’t get why Sebastian would want to jeopardize his plans by relenting to Jace’s request to have Clary with him until much later when I realised that it was a power move on Sebastian’s part. He wanted to control his sister and hurt his mother as much as he wanted to control Jace.
Clary and her mum have to leave Luke’s house – they take Luke to the station so the werewolves can help him
I got really concerned about Luke. I really liked how strong of a father figure he was not only to Clary but to Simon too. It also could have put the New York Pack in jeopardy with in-fighting for a new leader so It really had the potential to be disastrous in both an emotional and then practical sense.
Maia and Jordan leave for the Praetor Lupus to help Luke since he can’t heal on his own – they get close !
This whole section seemed a little lighter than the rest of the book but it also seemed a little out of place. It just came across as a little too trite a way to get Maia and Jordan talking again and to remind us that Maureen was about.
Maia and Jordan “get back together” – the Praetor Lupus find a way to help heal Luke
It was predictable. Clare likes her happy endings. And this was the penultimate book which seems to stereotypically be the “everyone is horny” book inYA and this lives up to that. They had to pair up otherwise the nice neat at the end pairings wouldn’t work.
The Praetor Lupus learns from Raphael that Maureen has gone rogue
Like I said before this was just the “oh here is the reminder of all the side plots you forgot about in an easy digestible quiet moment”.
Clary goes to see the Seelie Queen – they decide on a deal
Another didn’t really need to be in this book was only there to get Clary in the right place with the Rings so Sebastian could capture her. It didn’t do anything to the actual plot. It got Clary the rings and gave her the idea for how to chase after Jace but she could have had that thought just by being in the library at the right time too.
Clary goes to steal the rings the Seelie Queen wants – she witnesses Jace and Sebastian in the library and overhears them
Like above wasn’t really needed, we just needed Clary to know Jace was alive and that the rings could help her when she followed after him. We do get that moment of guessing is Jace actually fine with helping Sebastian but we also got that from the encounter at Lukes so we didn’t really need this either.
Alec keeps visiting the vampire Camille, Magnus’s ex lover
I just wanted to shake Alec for being so stupid. Mis-communication is my least favourite trope and why oh why oh why could he not just talk to Mangus instead of seeking advice from Magnus’ ex! It does make you feel sorry for Alec as he seems so confused by what he feels for Magnus that he is making such obvious mistakes. You forget he is only 18 sometimes until he does things like this and is so young and naive and trusting.
Alec, Simon, Clary, Isabelle and Magnus try to find a way to find Jace
I really liked how there was just this little team that formed and that that eventually involved Jocelyn too. While they all had slightly different reasons they all really cared for Jace in some way.
Clary portals to where Jace and Sebastian are
I think this was half brave, half fecking stupid. Yes, she is the only one that could get close enough to Sebastian to find out what he was planning but it also is bloody stupid to only have some magic rings she doesnt really understand and only Simon at the other end. Simon did the smart thing by telling Joclynn at lease.
The fight at the demon shop
Clare is really good at writing fight scenes and it is awesome to see Clary finally come into her own with the fighting. She is a shadowhunter after all so it’s great that she is actually getting trained and then getting to use that training.
Clary lives with Jace and Sebastian: they go to the club where things get dark and creepy
Again it’s the horny book in the series sothe super crazy fairy drug induced club scene kinda makes a little sense. While also providing perfect cover for Sebastian to be sneaky evil without Clary noticing as she is in a drug fuelled horny romp with Jace. But of course kids drugs are bad and give you hallucinations that make the whole scene even weirder.
Clary tries to run away, but ends up following Sebastian (fight with demons, he saves her, they go to see an Iron Sister)
I honestly didn’t see the whole twist with the 2nd Mortal cup coming. I really wouldn’t have thought about that as a potential plan for Sebastian but I think it is really cool. I also kind of liked how we almost got a bit of genuine Brother/Sister bonding, that Sebastian’s gaslighting nearly gets to Clary and she nearly falls for his charms and Sebastian’s own hatred for their father.
Jace goes to collect the second Mortal Cup created by the Iron Sister – he kills her and he remembers his real self through the injury inflicted by her. Jace wants to give himself up to the Clave but Clary gets in the way
This is where the book really picked up for me. I was enjoying the twisted gaslighting mnd games we were getting from Sebastian but this was really a fantastic scene. Getting to see Jace’s side of it, how trapped he feels was really emotional and powerful. I really thought this was just an awesome scene.
Sebastian and Jace intend to raise Lilith and completely destroy earth with a new dark Nephilim race
I think this was a really good corruption of Valentine’s plan it takes it that step further and that much darker. Clary really does fuck it up by not letting Jace goto the silent brothers while he had the chance. I am sure if he had gotten to Brother Zachariah (JEM!!!) he could have been ok.
Simon, Magnus, Izzy and Alec head to Luke’s farm and Simon calls on the Angel who gives him a sword to separate Sebastian and Jace – The Angel takes away the Mark of Cain
Simon redeeming himself a little with this move. I like that he stepped up to do this, both for Clary and to pay Jace back for saving him. I am still not 100% sold on Simon but he is getting back into my good graces little by little. I do like that there was such a big trade for the sword. Removing Simon’s mark is an interesting choice too. It does mean he is no longer protected.
Clary manages to get in contact with Simon through the rings, tell him Sebastian and Jace’s plan. Izzy, Simon, Alec and Magnus head off to find reinforcements and to go help Clary save Jace
I liked the choice that Izzy and Alec made to go to their Mother. It was like finally they decide to get the adults fully involved. I like that Maris also Loved Jace so much she went fuck the clave and rounded up all that she could too in order to protect him. I really liked the secret discussions between Maris and brother Zach that we got glimpses of and how he hinted he would back her up to save the last herondale for his personal reasons.
Clary and Sebastian fight – she wounds him and Jace because of their bond – TW for threatened / attempted sexual assault
I really love that Clare went dark with this one. All the manipulation and gaslighting and sheer evilness that we got from Sebastian got really dark and disturbing and this fight really capped that all off it really especially as Clary couldn’t fight without harming Jace and Sebastian really wasn’t afraid to use that to her advantage.
Sebastian brings Clary to the island where his followers have gathered. Sebastian calls on Lilith who puts her blood in the Cup – he makes Amatis drink from the Cup and she is turned into dark Nephilim
I felt so sorry for Amatis but I dont think this scene would have been as impactful without it being someone we were familiar with. To watch her twist and her personality change after drinking from the dark cup was a really good way of showing what powers it has.
Izzy, Alec, Magnus, Simon, the wolves and some other Shadowhunters turn up – battle ensues – Magnus gets wounded
I was not ok with Magnus getting hurt! I was going to cry if he had been killed! Clare really strung us along with that one too as we had to wait ages to find out if he was ok.
Clary stabs Jace with Glorious (the Angel Michael’s sword), he catches on fire and the bond between him and Sebastian is broken
I really didn’t think Clary would actually stab Jace. It was awesome. To potentially sacrifice her love to save everyone else is a really mature move on Clary’s part and a really unexpected one. The last few chapters of this book really ramp up all the tension and take you in directions you really didn’t think Clare would go. It was also a really emotional scene you could feel the weight of the decision on Clary and how intense Jace catching Fire was.
Another really long epilogue in which many awful and heartbreaking things happen – Please don’t let Malec be really over. Jace has Heavenly fire inside him.
MALEC !!!!! NO! 😥 😥
So there we are! Thanks for joining us for this adventure, and be sure to see us again in a few weeks when we’ll be reading and writing about the final book in The Mortal Instruments.