Trigger warnings (from booktriggerwarnings.com): (attempt) murder, violence, loss, injury, blood, gore, war (themes), death, (child) abuse, kidnapping, memory manipulation, (parental) neglect, abandonment, cheating, incest, attempted rape, sexual assault
Themes: fantastic genre, love, friendship, family, adventure, good vs. evil, magic
“All the stories are true”. Werewolves, demons, vampires and more. Every creature you’ve heard about, each and every one of them live among us, without humans knowing about it. And to keep the peace, half-angel warriors. That is what fifteen years old Clary Fray is about to discover. As she will learn about her mother’s past and her own, she will be accompanied by her lifelong best friend Simon and three young Shadowhunters: Isabelle and her brother Alec, and the mysterious Jace.
I have read this series twice when I write this review: once was when I was a teenager, so when I read it again, I already knew some of what happened - but I had mostly forgotten about the last three books. I had seen the movie (which I still love) and the TV show (don’t ask about it, I’m still mad). I know I don’t have the same point of view I had when I was younger, but it is still a series I enjoyed a lot and I can’t wait to read Clare’s other works in this universe (yeah, I’m looking at you, Infernal Devices books!). However, one of the main flaws that annoyed me throughout the whole series is Clare’s writing. Let me get this straight: not everything only fit for the bin, but Clare tends to repeat a lot of information, mostly from one book to another, but also from different points of view. Sometimes, it is not even relevant at all (repeating a piece of information in another character’s point of view, which this specific character is not supposed to know, for example). I don’t know if that is because it was the first book series she wrote or if she still does that nowadays, but I could not unsee it once I noticed it.
These six books are a mix of complex emotions when you read it. It often mingles sad and happy moments, mixes tears and smiles. They are funny as hell, but they also hurt my very soul more than once. It was sometimes cringe-making, and I liked some more than others. Love, friendship, and adventure are often the main topics and I dare you not to fall in love with one of the fans’ favourite ships: Malec.
Prepare for some random information about each book - what I liked and what I didn’t
SPOILER ALERT: go ahead at your own risks
City of Bones (book 1) ★★★★☆
“Seeing through a glamour is easy. It’s people that are hard.”
This first book started really well: it sets the story and its characters, their (sometimes complex) relationships but it never feels too much. Clare succeeds in making her magical background not only understandable but believable. I enjoyed it more than the others because it felt that it could finish like that: it has a beginning, and an (open) end, and it is probably an unpopular opinion, but the series could have just been this one book and I would have love it like that - though I’m still happy there are sequels. It’s just a feeling but I have this for some other stuff: I consider the first Fantastic Beasts as self-sufficient, and the other two only existing because of the first one, for example.
I loved that in Clary’s point of view there were some references to paintings. It underlined that she is an artist, and she knows about art in general: her mind automatically flashes with these references. Sadly, there are not a lot them.
There are two scenes in particular I remember which I did not like at all. The first one is when Clary and Simon are at the Institute and Clary seems to care of how Simon acts with Isabelle, even though she’s clearly not in love with him (as it’s mentioned later in the book or in the series). I would have preferred her to act like a supportive friend or, at least, like she did not care at all, as to show that he is her brother from another mother. The other one is Clary and Jace having a moment while Alec is hurt near the end of the book, when a demon almost killed him. It’s cringe. It’s distasteful. And it’s not realistic. When your best friend is hurt, you don’t feel like hitting on someone else. You care for you friend. You’re scared.
City of Ashes (book 2) ★★★☆☆
I don’t have a lot of memories about this one but I remember cringing to every single Clace moments, even though I knew they were not really related. Their kiss in the Seelie Court was especially hard to read and I just went past some sentences to make it go faster. On the contrary, I really liked how the scene where Simon drinks blood out of Jace was written.
City of Glass (book 3) ★★★☆☆
“Knowing is better than not knowing. Every time.”
Clace was still cringe-making in this book and Jace’s reactions were also classic toxic traits. I also already knew that Sebastian was Clary’s true brother which made it very awkward when he kissed her and all their moments, but I believe that it was meant to feel like it, to show how sick he is, how his demonic blood has made him a monster. Moreover, it is said later in the series that he doesn’t know how to love properly because of that.
Luckily, there was the return of a mention of a piece of art but unfortunately, it was in Alec’s point of view which wiped out the effect it had in the first book with Clary’s. On the other hand, her perspective introduces another way to show her artistic side: she sees and describes colours in her own way, such as a painter would do.
I loved two moments in this book: Ithuriel, the angel Valentine captured, showing his memories to Clary and Jace. The scene is very graphic and could be easily adapted on a screen, which is something I personally enjoy a lot when I’m reading books. Another one was Magnus saying ‘I love you’ for the first time while Alicante, the Shadowhunters’ capital city in Idris, is burning. Alec never realised it was true and it was the truest, most beautiful moment. Later in the book, they also finally kiss in front of everyone in Idris and while it was cute, Alec is supposed to be worried about Jace and it made me feel like the first book when Jace hit on Clary.
City of Fallen Angels (book 4) ★★★★☆
“As long as we’re together, I’m ready for anything.”
This one really felt like the beginning of a new trilogy, and sometimes that is how this series is divided. It has the same characters but another villain, others interesting themes and new settings. It was, for me, better than City of Glass and City of Fallen Angels. Malec is everything in this book and while Clace is still annoying, they have some cute moments that I enjoyed because they were officially NOT related.
Clary’s point of view gets mentions of paintings again and the characters’ development is great and pleasant, especially for secondary characters such as Isabelle and Simon. I also liked Maia’s backstory!
City of Lost Souls (book 5) ★★★☆☆
This book was the end of me: Magnus breaking up with Alec broke my own heart. I was so sad and I could not remember City of Heavenly Fire so I did not know if they would get back together or not. At the same time, I appreciated that Alec was shown as any flawed human in this one - not that he felt perfect before, but he was just side-lined. On the other hand, I did not like that Camille was killed - first of all because she had too little impact on the story and I had really hoped to see her more as a threat - but moreover, killed by a thirteen-year-old! Her character was only useful to Alec’s story with Magnus and it is a shame because she could have been so much more.
City of Heavenly Fire (book 6) ★★★★☆
The beginning of this book has too many new characters, too many descriptions and makes it hard to follow. It goes too fast, which is normal as the Institute is being attacked, sense of urgence, but it makes it difficult to make every link, to understand each relationship.
Clace’s moments are now better, enjoyable and even hot, such as the kiss in the alley or the first time in the cave. It was also nice to have them together, accepting themselves, in parallel with Malec’s broken up and Sizzy not yet together. They finally work together.
Clary, Isabelle, Simon and Alec’s dream when they arrive in Hell all matched their characters. Alec’s was funny but sad at the same time, and my favourite one was Isabelle’s, which was truly heart-breaking.
Simon’s sacrifice destroyed me into millions of pieces, even more than Malec’s break-up, though it was the right choice to do. It was cool to have him back after but I would have preferred a bittersweet ending where he totally goes back to a normal life, to show that every story cannot end all in happily ever after.
I also loved how Cassandra Clare dealt with the end of the war, especially with the Blackthorn’s fate and the Fae people’s, which perfectly reflects reality: the good does not always win and sometimes, believing that what you do is the right thing to do is not always true.
I did not like that Jocelyn said she loved Luke since the beginning: it would have been better if she had developed her feelings during all the years they spent together after running from the Clave and Valentine in my opinion. But Luke being Clary’s real father though they are not related at all has my whole heart.
‘For a bachelor who’d never had children, Simon thought, Luke had an awful lot of kids to look after’ City of Fallen Angels
END OF SPOILER
I can’t wait to read Clare’s other stories, and I hope that her writing has improved and that she will continue to make her characters and this universe grow again and again because, you know, when you’re attached to someone, or something, it does not matter how fictional they are. They still live with you. Always.
Keep dreaming, Lua ☾
Ship = relationship
Sizzy = Simon and Isabelle (love) relationship
Malec = Magnus and Alec (love) relationship
Clace = Clary and Jace (love) relationship