The second book of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, City of Ashes, picks up roughly where City of Bones left off. Clary attempts to get her life back to normal by ignoring the supernatural world she now knows exists, and avoiding the Shadowhunters, most especially Jace. Following the destruction of her home, Clary now lives with Luke while her mother is still comatose in the hospital.
Alec and Isabelle’s parents have returned and are once again in charge of The Institute. Jace’s life is suddenly in turmoil as he not only has to deal with his feelings for Clary and the fact that she is his sister (see spoiler at the end of this post if you are so inclined), but he also finds himself homeless when Maryse Lockwood kicks him out of The Institute for the very same reason he now finds himself being investigated by The Clave: Nobody believes that he had no knowledge that Valentine is his father. Should Jace be found guilty by the Inquisitor, who seems particularly hostile towards him, he stands to be stripped of his marks and sentenced to life as a mundane.
With downworlder-children turning up dead and drained of their blood, and a sudden increase of demon activity, Clary and Jace must put their confusing feelings for each other aside and work together to not only discover why downworlder children are being killed, but also prove Valentine’s involvement and Jace’s innocence.
The story transitions rather seamlessly from the conclusion of City of Bones to the events of City of Ashes. The only interesting and sudden jump that took me by surprise is the fact that Clary and Simon are now a couple. It was strange finding them making out in the beginning of the book, especially knowing Clary’s feelings towards Jace. I was quite frustrated with Clary’s behaviour towards Jace in this book (actually I was quite frustrated with Clary in general. Ignoring the world doesn’t mean you’re not a Shadowhunter. Quit acting like a mundane!). Jace is as much a victim of circumstances as she is (if not more so), and I feel he handles this very unfortunate turn of events much better than Clary does. He never once treats her badly, even when he’s angry with her. Clary on the other hand does nothing but hurt Jace all throughout the book. If she’s not ignoring him, she’s yelling at him and rubbing her relationship with Simon in his face. The chemistry between Clary and Jace is really well done, and all the angst surrounding their situation is eloquently handled. As for Simon, I found him to be even more annoying than he was in City of Bones. To my mind he forces his company and his feelings on Clary, taking advantage of her fragile state of mind. (*Spoiler alert – Simon almost dies twice, and each time I was disappointed to learn he is still alive. He annoys me that much). By the end of City of Bones Isabelle had just started growing on me, and she’s sadly very much a non-character in this book. We see very little of Isabelle. Alec is slightly more prominent, but I would have liked to see more of all of the four of them together – Clary, Jace, Isabelle and Alec have a group dynamic that just works and it was rather frustrating that we didn’t really get to see it this time around.
As for the plot, for a whole lot of pages not a whole lot happens. Valentine has stolen another Mortal Instrument and needs the blood of downworlder-children (sixteen years old or younger) in order to complete a ritual that would make the Instrument switch its allegiance from The Clave to Valentine. Valentine, who is supposed to be this super villain who has an army of demons at his beck and call, has trouble finding three children. I found it quite unrealistic and I have trouble taking him seriously as a threat if he can’t even find three children. The Inquisitor makes for a better villain than Valentine! Having said that, he is very charming and cunning, which at least makes him interesting.
While this second book in the series is not as exciting or captivating as the first, I still enjoyed the story and look forward to continuing the journey.
Title: City of Ashes
Series: The Immortal Instruments (Book 2)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
If you wish to know the nature of Clary and Jace’s relationship, here it is:
They are not related. Clary and Jace are not brother and sister. I’m not sure how it all fits together, but I Googled it to find out because I just cannot read a book with a romantic plot device about a brother and sister who love each other inappropriately. I had to know for sure that they are not brother and sister before I continued this journey with them. I understand the truth comes out in the next book, City of Glass.