Book Review : City of Ashes (#2 in The Mortal Instruments) (*Spoiler Free*) by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments)

Author : Cassandra Clare
Series : The Mortal Instruments
Volume : 2 of 6
Published By : Simon & Schuster
Year Published : 2008
Genre / Tags : YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
Formats : Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
# of Pages : 453 pages (Hardcover)


As a follow-up to City of Bones, City of Ashes shares practically all of the same strong points and weak points. I still consider Clary annoying and unambitious as a main character, prone to complaining about things and just being unremarkable in what is a fairly remarkable setting full of magical powers and fantasy races. I felt like when she accomplishes something huge it’s mainly on accident or just handed to her, I never get the sense that she is working or training hard to get better, in these first two books at least.

This book introduces some new and worthwhile characters, and small back stories for them. Maia comes to mind as being one of the better additions and when the perspective switches from Clary to she, I was pretty happy with the results and depth of her back story. I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing her take over as the main character.

Magnus Bane is another side character that stands out. He’s just witty and enjoyable, some highlights of the book are moments where he’s prominent.

This might be an unpopular opinion but I enjoy the angst between Clary and Jace and the sort of forbidden romance that is still bubbling under the surface of their interactions, even though they can’t act on their feelings. It’s just an odd concept and more memorable than the average YA relationship goings-on, though also pretty gross. I hope this doesn’t count as a spoiler, I’ve seen many reviewers mentioning this with varying words so I’ll paraphrase this important tidbit as well- there is more than meets the eye with Jace and Clary so if you hate what’s happening with them in this book and the ending of City of Bones before, rest assured that circumstances will change quite considerably. Even though I don’t exactly like Clary, I liked the conflicts of their moments together and seeing a different side of Jace.

Vampires are more prominent in this volume. They’re basically Anne Rice’s vampires. Direct reference is made to her work, albeit in a joking moment. This ties into one of the complaints I had about City of Bones- a lot of the fantasy lore is a sort of window dressing, with very little in way of unique re-imagining or thorough detail. The exception to this being the magic system and how Shadowhunter abilities work.

I feel like the strong points of the series are still very evident in this volume. Fast and very readable pace. Startling and sometimes surprising plot twists. Multi-generational plot threads. And finally, Clary’s messed up and chaotic family drama which I still enjoy learning about.

Another thing I liked is the antagonist, Valentine. He’s just a really twisted villain. I like how important and central he is, leaving a mark on the lives of literally every character introduced so far. There’s the potential for a richly detailed back story there, and some delvings into it are present here.

An easy and flowing read, not particularly remarkable writing but well-paced and I was motivated enough to check out the third book.

Overall Rating – 7.5/10

Why You Should Try It – If you liked City Of Bones well enough to want more of the same, this volume delivers pretty well on that. Many think the writing is even better. Some of the new characters really broaden the scope of things. Clary’s family situation is complicated and I’m (unpopular opinion maybe?) quite into the drama it brings.

Why You Might Not Like It – If you hated City of Bones, I can’t imagine this sequel will change your mind. But a lot of the events are sort of building and structuring for the next book (#3 in the series, City Of Glass) which, in my view, is the most impressive of the lot I’ve tried thus far.

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments)

Have you read The Mortal Instruments series or anything else by Cassandra Clare? Even though I have mixed feelings about the first two books, I very much liked City of Glass and will be continuing the series and reviewing all the volumes I end up reading. As always, I appreciate your comments and thoughts and likes.


7 thoughts on “Book Review : City of Ashes (#2 in The Mortal Instruments) (*Spoiler Free*) by Cassandra Clare

  1. To me, City of Ashes was one of the books I kinda want to enjoy because of the forbidden love that Clary and Jace has, and how much they can’t act on each others feelings, but it’s like so strong, and on the annoying side in my opinion. But I literally love my precious Magnus in this book. Great Review!

    Liked by 1 person

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