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Book Cover Image: City of Ashes by Cassandra ClareTitle: City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments #02)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “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, new-found 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?”

Thoughts: I must apologize to Ms. Clare for unfairly judging this series. I read City of Bones during the spring read-a-thon and thought it was just okay. It didn’t rock my world or make me even want to continue reading the series. It wasn’t horrible but it did nothing for me. During a quick trip to the library recently, I happened to notice the final two books in the series sitting on the shelf, and I thought I would try the Mortal Instruments series again. I am definitely glad I did because I was completely wrong about this series.

My original complaint about Jace was the fact that he was too jaded and too impetuous in his actions. City of Ashes shows why he is the way he is. His conflict about his father, his need to feel important and his fearlessness all become understandable as Ms. Clare reveals more about Jace’s very intriguing past. Rather than a character I struggled to like, Jace quickly became the character with whom I had the most sympathy.

I recant my thoughts on Clary as well. She is not the damsel in distress but rather the one who understands the importance of love and loyalty and would sacrifice her life for her loved ones. Her unerring faith in the heroes versus the bad guys means that she will never quit doing what she thinks is right. In City of Ashes, Clary also grows in her knowledge of herself and her powers. The transformation of her character from one who is weak to one who is willing to lead by example is quite impressive and pleasurable to read.

Did I compare Simon to Duckie from Pretty in Pink? Boy, was I wrong on that assessment! Rather than the lovelorn sidekick best friend, Simon comes into his own during City of Ashes. His story takes an unexpected turn of events, one that in no way impacts the overarching plot. I admire his ability to adapt and overcome his new…”handicap”. Like Jace and Clary, he grows and comes to stand on his own as an equal versus a sidekick.

Overall, I am so glad that I gave this series another chance. It is unlike any other paranormal YA story I’ve read, combining multiple mythologies in a way that makes sense and is tremendously fulfilling. The story itself is engaging and suspenseful. A fun and distracting read, it is well worth the time and effort to get to know Jace, Clary, Simon and the rest of the Lightwoods.

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