Book Review: City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare

cv_city_of_heavenly_fireThis book is available in bookstores nationwide, and is the final book in ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series by Cassandra Clare.

As the sixth, and conclusive, book in the series, I was expecting a grand finale. And I got it, as Jace, Clary and the New York Shadowhunters and Downlanders face off against Sebastian’s army of ‘Endarkened’ (Shadowhunters turned to the dark side).

This is a fitting ending to one of my favourite series for teenagers, and overgrown teenagers like myself. In previous volumes I had found myself annoyed by both main protagonists − Clary and Jace − but in this book it appeared that both have reached a maturity level more befitting them and there is far less of the angst that made earlier books almost painful to read. Instead we have a sweetness, and determination.

The supporting cast are all given their turns in the spotlight too, with the prose merrily skipping between point-of-view characters to give us insight and to draw their own story arcs to a close. My particular favourite is Simon/Isabelle. Simon is my favourite vampire in literature, being geek first, vampire second, and Isabelle is truly fierce and awesome. Together they made for some of the most memorable − and in some cases, amusing − scenes in the story. Alec too gets his turn in the spotlight, and I felt myself hating him less after certain decisions he made in the previous book. Magnus is, as always, his most excellent and charming self, with an added dose of angst for good measure.

Clare is a very tidy writer − this story is very polished and certain weaves come togther in a manner that almost feels like they’re being tied up with a bow. For those of you who have read her ‘Clockwork’ series, you will recognise that certain characters and story arcs left hanging from that trilogy are also tied up here. One might argue that sometimes things work out almost too neatly, but there is also a lot of heartbreak here, particularly concerning the Endarkened warriors.

It is also quite apparent, with the introduction of new characters, that the new series, released next year, is being set up in this volume. I rather liked that, especially as it gives us a glimpse at some of the other Shadowhunter families, the ones that we were introduced to back in the Victorian era (the ‘Clockwork’ books), and I eagerly anticipate delving further into their tales.

Overall, an impressive conclusion filled with triumph, heartbreak, love, loss, beauty and darkness.

This is one of the series I would most highly recommend for teenagers – for it combines the angst and romance of stories like Twilight with epic scale plots and challenges, with a fine scattering of humour and tragedy throughout. Certainly, some of the instalments are a bit hit-and-miss (I was not a big fan of ‘Lost Souls’) but overall it is excellent.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

City of Heavenly Fire
by Cassandra Clare
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781406357813

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