Warning: There may be some spoilers in the following review. You have been fairly warned.
To say that I became enthralled with this series less than twenty pages into the first book, City of Bones, is an understatement. So imagine my delight in the fact that I had, on whim, bought the first two books together, hoping that I would enjoy the first one enough to at least read the second at some point. I can easily say that I would have gone certifiably insane had I not had the second one to immediately dive into the moment I completed the first. With its complex and fresh storyline, not to mention captivating and let’s just face it, fucking hot characters, I was anxious to get started on the sequel City of Ashes right away.
The book starts off right where the last left off, facing the aftermath of Valentine’s return and the subsequent predicament his *cue Darth Vadar voice* “Jace I am your father,” revelation leaves the characters in. We all fell hard for Jace in the first book and I for one was biting at the bit for him and Clary to just screw already and get it over with. I mean the sexual tension was through the roof, until we learned that Valentine is both Jace’s and Clary’s father. Um…what? Now I know what you’re thinking. That should be the end of any other relationship between our two star-crossed lovers. Not so. At first I was completely heartbroken for both of them and couldn’t imagine how their relationship was going to be affected in City of Ashes. I was so convinced that these two were meant to be together that I was ready to put on my “I Support Incest” button. Don’t look at me like that; I know you felt the same way. I was literally on the edge of my seat watching every interaction between them since the events in City of Bones had seemingly crushed both their and our hearts. This becomes a major struggle throughout the whole book for them. How do they act like brother and sister when they had this hot You-annoy-me-but-I-love-you attraction from the moment they met?
Clary tries to combat this by finally giving and dating Simon. I can’t help but love Simon, even if he is a little desperate to be with Clary. It’s obvious to me the moment it starts that its not going to last. Despite the love that Clary has for Simon, its nothing compared to what she feels for Jace, even though she knows its wrong. Poor Simon goes through a lot in this book, I almost feel like he’s perpetually getting crapped on. Not only does he realize the girl he wants doesn’t want him back, but he temporarily gets turned into a rat and permanently becomes a V.I.P. member of the undead. Like I said, it’s a rough 500 pages for him. I can only hope in future books that he gets to put his newfound nerdy-badass vampire skills to work.
Behind all these complex relationships there’s the issue of Valentine, Clary and Jace’s father who seems intent on being an evil asshole by completely shattering the Shadowhunter world with his plans of world domination and all around dick behavior. Jace has some complex thoughts about his father that continue to be a huge contradiction throughout the whole book. It keeps us guessing about what his true feelings about Valentine are and in a way I understand his struggle even though I want to beat Valentine with a club. Jace has only ever known a father who he thought was dead and now he struggles to feel pure hatred towards him. We find out a little more about Jace’s past and his daddy-issues cast suspicion on him, especially by an overly ambitious Inquisitor who go so far as to lock him up for “collaborating” with Valentine. As far as I’m concerned, I’m the only one who should be able to handcuff this man. While locked in the Silent City with the brothers, Jace is once again confronted by his father when Valentine breaks in to steal the second of the mortal instruments.
Clary starts to come into her own, creating her own identity as a Shadowhunter. When she goes to break Jace out of the Silent City she realizes that she has the ability to create runes. She doesn’t really fully understand this power or why she has it, but it becomes essential in the final battle of the book.
After Valentine kidnaps Simon and a member of Luke’s werewolf pack, the group descends on him to rescue them. This epic battle of the book is beyond exciting and Clary gets to act a little more badass than she has before. By the end of it, Valentine has disappeared with the two Mortal Instruments, Simon and Jace have bonded in a strange way, and Jace all but slams his stele into Clary’s heart when he tells her that he’s just going to be her brother now, despite the feelings he has for her. The book ends on a definite cliffhanger when Clary meets Madeline, who claims to know how to wake Clary’s mother from her coma. Dun, dun, dun….
Overall fantastic second book, I loved City of Bones and as far as I’m concerned the series just keeps getting better.