City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments #2)
March 2008, Margaret K. McElderry Books
Young Adult urban fantasy
Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go—especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil—and also her father.
To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings—and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?
As I continue on my quest to read the Mortal Instruments series in its entirety before the movie, slated for release in 2012, comes out, it’s fairly easy for me to see where this story is going. This isn’t entirely a bad thing: I can be a big believer in the classic storyline. Cassandra Clare’s true talent doesn’t lie in the realm of creating a storyline, but in the crucial ability to draw readers in. Clare has created a rich and addictive New York underworld that can be very hard to leave; it’s fully a sensory experience, replete with intriguing detail.
Clare continues to create strong characters to inhabit this world. Clary still isn’t one of my favorites, but everyone else is fantastic. The variety of supernatural creatures is astonishing, from grotesque demons to the elegant fey, with a few of our beloved vampires and werewolves thrown in the mix. (Have I mentioned how relieved I am that these vamps don’t sparkle?)
There’s plenty of action in City of Ashes, and this volume certainly has its fair share of angst. It isn’t markedly different from the first book in this series, but expands on the same themes, adding a few welcome new characters and subplots. This isn’t an extraordinary series, but one worth reading; I’ll be looking forward to reading Book Three.
Rating: 4 stars