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City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare Book Review

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

City of Ashes

by Cassandra Clare

Published by McElderry Books

Book 2 in the Mortal Instruments series

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?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.


Violence Young Adult Exciting




City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare is the second book in the Mortal Instruments series, and starts about a week after the ending of the first book. It centers around Clary Fray, and fellow shadowhunters Jace, Isabelle, and Alec, as well as her best friend Simon, and the man who is her father in every way that counts, Luke. We also get a bit more of our favorite warlock, Magnus Bane. City of Ashes primarily focuses on Valentines continued efforts to destroy the Clave, while Jace and Clary try to deal with their forbidden feelings for one another. We also get an introduction to the Lightwood parents, and a small taste of shadowhunter politics.

City of Ashes was a good continuation from City of Bones. We get all the elements that made the first book great, but just a little bit edgier. The emotions are more raw and angry. Forbidden. Relationships between characters are adapting to the storyline, and the feelings for each relationship are made clear without telling you outright how you should feel. The Valentine danger element is heightened in City of Ashes, so we get a lot of action as well. We get closer looks at the downworlders, and get a bit more information about the politics of the clave, which has been mentioned a lot, but not seen through our eyes so much.

While such a short amount of time has passed, our characters have grown up a bit. The world is a darker place, and they seem to accept that, while not succumbing to it. Angsty for sure (but show me a teenager that isn't), but not disgustingly so. I think the most growth has come from Simon, surprisingly, by what he did at the end of City of Ashes, despite his pain of doing so. Due to the obvious ... complications .... between Jace and Clary, City of Ashes really strengthened some of the bonds between other characters. Jace and the Lightwoods, Clary and Luke (Spoiler)--------> Luke admitting he is in love with Jocelyn was a very sweet conversation. <---------, Clary and Simon finding their new footing, lets say, and Alec with a certain warlock, who is obviously ------> having trouble with Alex being in the closet <----------. I liked that we got to take some time to focus on these other relationships, as they are important to the story as a whole as well. That's one of the great things about the Mortal Instruments, after all. There is so many people and elements, and the bonds between them are all unique.

City of Ashes is a great segue into what is coming in the series. It's full of hints to the future, whether stated out right, or through actions. It also felt a touch more mature, which, as an adult reading these books, I enjoyed, yet appreciated the fact that my daughters could read these books and I would have no worries about it. I can't wait to start the next one (probably my favorite of the series).

Favorite Moments

  1. Luke and Clary talking to Jace after Maryse kicked him out

  2. Clary, Isabelle and Alec breaking Jace out of the Silent City cells

  3. The kiss in the seelie court

  4. Jace calling out Malec

  5. Alec with the fearless rune, about to tell his parents that he is gay and dating Magnus

  6. Clary putting the fearless rune on Jace

  7. Luke and Jace fighting together

  8. Alec offering Magnus his strength when he was wiped out from the battle

  9. Clary destroying the ship with her rune powers

  10. Simon being able to be in the sun

  11. Maryse and Jace talking after the battle

  12. Simon breaking things off with Clary for the sake of their friendship

Where to Buy

Favorite Quotes

Jace: "Are you still mad?"

Alec: "I'm not mad."

Jace: "Oh, yes you are."

Alec: "I am not. Just because you said dragon demons were extinct -"

Jace: "I said mostly extinct."

Alec jabbed a finger toward him.

Alec: "Mostly extinct is NOT EXTINCT ENOUGH."

Clary: "You can't wait for perfect behavior from everyone. Adults screw up too. Go back to the institute and talk to her rationally. Be a man."

Jace: "I don't want to be a man. I want to be an angst-ridden teenager who can't confront his ocer inner demons and takes it out verbally on other people instead."

Luke: "Well, you're doing a fantastic job."

Maia: "That's sweet. That he loves his sister like that."

Simon: "Yeah. It's precious."

Clary: "Family is more than blood. Valentine isn't my father. Luke is."

Luke: "Thank you, Simon, I appreciate that. Though you did eat all the pizza."

Simon: "I only had five slices."

Clary: "How many slices did you think were in a pizza, dork?"

Simon: "Less than five slices isn't a meal. It's a snack. Does this mean you're going to wolf out and eat me?"

Luke: "Certainly not. You would be stringy and hard to digest."

Simon: "But kosher."

Luke: "I'll be sure to point any Jewish lycanthropes your way."

Luke: "There is something you should have. Something every Shadowhunter should have."

Simon: "An obnoxious, arrogant attitude?"

Jace: "You have something on your neck."

Alec's hand flew to his throat

Alec: "What?"

Jace: "Looks like a bite mark.. What have you been doing all day anyway?"

Alec: "Nothing."

Beet red, his hand still clamped to his neck, Alec started down the corridor. Jace followed him,

Alec: "I went walking in the park. Tried to clear my head."

Jace: "And ran into a vampire?"

Alec: "What? No! I fell."

Jace: "On your neck?

Jace: "Yes, I was trained to be an evil mastermind from a young age. Pulling the wings off flies poisoning the earth's water supply - I was covering that stuff in Kindergarten. I guess we're all just lucky my father faked his own death before he got to the raping and pillaging part of my education, or no one would be safe."

Clary: "Somebody's girlfriend. Somebody's sister, somebody's daughter. All these things I never knew I was before, and I still don't really know what I am."

Luke: "Isn't that always the question."

Simon: "Eric thinks we should change the name of our band to Mojo Pie."

Clary: "What is it now? I forgot."

Simon: "Champagne Enema."

Clary: "Change it."

Alex: "I didn't know you were bringing the mundane."

Simon: "That's what I like about you people. You always make me feel so welcome."

Clary: "We came to see Jace. Is he all right?"

Magnus: "I don't know. Does he normally just lie on the floor like that without moving?"

Magnus: "There's no need to clarify my finger snap. The implication was clear in the snap itself."

Simon: "Is standing by the window muttering about blood something he does all the time?"

Jace: "No. Sometimes he sits on the couch and does it."

Jace: "Clary -"

Simon: "She said she doesn't want it. Ha-ha."

Jace: "Ha-ha? That's your comeback?"

Alec: "What's going on?"

Magnus: "We seem to be trapped in an episode of One Life to Waste. It's all very dull."

Isabelle: "Mom and Dad won't be pleased if they find out."

Simon: "That you freed a possible criminal by trading away your brother to a warlock who looks like a gay Sonic the Hedgehog and dresses like the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? No, probably not."

Simon: "Look on the bright side. If they need a human sacrifice, you can always offer me. I'm not sure the rest of you qualify, anyway."

Jace brightened

Jace: "Its always nice when someone volunteers to be the first up against the wall."

Isabelle: "Oh, for the Angel's sake. Look, if there's no other way of getting out of this, I'll kiss Simon. I've done it before, it wasn't that bad."

Simon: "Thanks. That's very flattering."

Seelie Queen: "Alas. I'm afraid that won't do either."

Jace: "Well, I'm not kissing the mundane. I'd rather stay down here and rot.

Simon: "Forever? Forever's an awfully long time."

Jace raised his eyebrows.

Jace: "I knew it. You want to kiss me, don't you?"

Simon threw up his hands in exasperation

Simon: "Of course not. But if -"

Jace: "I guess it's true what they say. There are no straight men in the trenches."

Simon: "That's atheist's, jackass."

Clary: "What do you want me to tell you? The truth? The truth is that I love Simon like I should love you, and I wish he was my brother and you weren't, but I can't do anything about that and neither can you! Or do you have some ideas, since you're so goddamned smart?"

Jace sucked a breath in, and she realized he had never expected her to say what she'd just said, not in a million years. The look on his face said as much.

Clary: "Jace, I'm sorry, I didn't mean -"

Jace: "No. You're not sorry. Don't be sorry."

Jace: "When I was a little kid, I realized that if you say any word over and over fast enough, it loses all it's meaning. I'd lie awake saying the words over and over to myself - 'sugar,' 'mirror,' 'whisper,' 'dark.' 'Sister.' You're my sister."

Clary: "It doesn't matter how many times you say it. It'll still be true."

Jace: "And it doesn't matter what you won't let me say, that'll still be true too."

Jace: "Where did you get that?"

Simon: "I wrenched it off the side of a telephone pole. I guess you can do anything when your adrenaline is up."

Jace: "Or when you have the unholy strength of the damned."

Jace: "I wish I could hate you. I want to hate you. I try to hate you. It would be so much easier if I did hate you. Sometimes I think I do hate you and then I see you and I -"

Clary: "And you what?"

Jace: "What do you think?"

Clary: "How old are you, anyway?"

Magnus winked at her

Magnus: "I was alive when the Dead Sea was a lake that was just feeling a little poorly."

Magnus: "You might want to lie down. I find that helps when the crushing sense of horrible realization sets in."

His grey-blue eyes were tired, a little sunken, but held the same steadiness they'd held when she was six years old and he'd promised her that if she climbed the jungle gym in the Prospect Park playground, he'd always be standing underneath it to catch her if she fell. And he always had been.

Luke: "Perhaps there isn't anything here that Alec is afraid of."

Magnus glanced at Alec and raised his brows.

Magnus: "Boo."

Clary: "Have you got a spider somewhere?"

Luke looked exasperated

Luke: "Why would I have a spider? Do I look like someone who would collect them?"

Jace: "No offense, but you kind of do."

Magnus: "I'd say it's been nice meeting you all, but, in fact, it hasn't. It's been quite awkward, and frankly, the next time I see a single one of you will be far too soon."

Jace: "No, I'm just a very naughty boy. I do all sorts of bad things. I kick kittens. I make rude gestures at nuns."

Jace: "So Hodge wasn't lying when he said we'd actually use geometry in our daily lives. You're right, Alec. There are four walls to this cage."

Luke: "What makes you think that Valentine's change of plans had anything to do with your brother?"

Clary: "Because only Jace can piss someone off that much."

Isabelle: "There's a higher law than the Clave, Alec. The law of family. Jace is your family."

Isabelle: "Bandages first. Weapons later. Okay, now take your shirt off."

Jace: "I knew there was something in this for you."

Isabelle: "If you're texting Magnus to say 'I think u r kewl,' I'm going to kill you."

Max: "Who's Magnus?"

Alec: "He's a warlock."

Isabelle: "A sexy, sexy warlock."

Isabelle told Max, ignoring Alec's look of total fury.

Max: "But warlocks are bad."

Isabelle: "Exactly."

Like: "He wanted you to stay, didn't he? Stay and join up with him."

Jace: "Yes."

Luke: "And you said no."

Jace glared

Jace: "I wish people would stop guessing that. It's making me feel predictable."

Luke: "You used that Fearless rune, didn't you?"

Jace: "You're not wrong."

Luke: "Christ. Did you put it on yourself?"

Jace: "No. Clary put it on me. She's good at that, you know."

Luke: "Teenagers."

Maryse: "A la claire fontaine m'en allant promener."

He turned to look at her

Jace: "What?"

Maryse: "Il y a longtemps ue je t'aime. Jamais je ne t'oublierai - it's the old French ballad I used to sing to Alec and Isabelle. The one you asked me about. You were wrong that I never sang it to you. It's just that you never heard me."

Simon: "Hey, baby."

Clary: "Baby? You're kidding me, right?"

Simon: "I was trying it out. No?"

Clary: "No."

Simon winced

Simon: 'You're starting to sound like a dolphin, do you know that?"

Clary: "Maybe I could love you someday."

Simon: "If you ever do, come and let me know. You know where to find me."

Clary: "I can't lose you, Simon. I can't."

Simon: "You never will. I'm not leaving you. But I'd rather have what we have, which is real and true and important, than have you pretend anything else."

Luke: "Forgive me my paternal panic. I tend to get a little nervous when you're not in my immediate line of sight these days."

Clary: "Oh, yeah? How long do you think that's going to go on for?"

Luke: "Not long. Five, maybe six years."

Clary: "Luke!"

Luke: "I plan to let you start dating when you're thirty, if that helps."


City of Ashes Extra: Because it is bitter (Jace's POV of the Seelie Court scene)

Check out the rest of the Mortal Instruments Series Below

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