City of Ashes Book Review

Leading into the sequel, City of Bones left us with quite a bit to unpack, namely Jace and Clary’s now familial connection, the betrayal of Hodge, the return of Valentine and Simon and Clary’s force romance – though in an unpopular opinion I was rooting for this one at this point in the series.

city of ashes book review

In the aftermath from the reveal of Jace’s parentage he’s been kicked out of the Institute and in what can only be described as J’ace fashion’ he goes around getting into bar fights… One thing leads to another and Jace finds himself city behind bars in the Silent City, again in ‘Jace fashion’. The reason I dwell on these particular scenes is because of how well Cassandra Clare build Jace’s character. In the first book we’re introduced to him as a strong ‘carry weight of the world on my shoulders’ type, whereas in this book she begins to strip his character down, showing us a rawer side of Jace. I mean after all he found out his father is alive and the world’s greatest villain, all while he’s fallen in love with his sister.

Speaking of we lead into one of the craziest and probably in a writer’s sense riskiest scenes that I’ve read. It takes one hell of an author to write incest in a way that confuses the reader because part of you is rooting for Jace and Clary while the other part is screaming ew, gross, what the… well you get my drift. And on top of that Clare goes and rips out Simon’s heart. Simon who finally landed the girl of his dreams has to watch as Clary admits that she’d rather kiss her brother than him.

The plot itself is all sorts of brilliant. It takes a linear progression in terms of one thing leading to the next, but the character building is what sets this book (and series) above others.

There’s a saying, ‘if you hang a gun on the wall in the first act then you better make sure it goes off by the final and Clare exhibits this beautifully. But what is incredible is her vision across not just the plot of the book but the flow of the series. We see this in particular through Simon’s transformation into his vampiric form and that seed was planted back in book one! Then we see more seeds of plot sprinkled into the mix in terms of Jace’s parentage.

All in all it was a great read, a perfect sequel, and a great building block for the next book.

Johnathon Nicolaou

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