Sunday, 6 November 2011

City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare

GENRE: Young Adult
PAGES: 448
PUBLISHER: Walker Books
FORMAT: Paperback
BUY IT: Waterstones
RATING: 4 Stars

With her mother in a coma and her father hell-bent on destroying the world, Clary is dragged deeper into New York's terrifying underworld of werewolves, demons and the mysterious Shadowhunters. Discovering the truth about her past was only the beginning, now Clary must save the world from her own father - the rogue Shadowhunter Valentine. With two of the Mortal Instruments at his command, Valentine is assembling an army of demons to wage war on the council of Shadowhunters and destroy them once and for all. As the battle begins, Clary must face her darkest fears - and come to terms with her feelings for a boy she wishes wasn't her brother.

I'm a big fan of the Mortal Instruments series; it has great characters, great settings and, even if somewhat far-fetched in places (even for a fantasy novel) a good and complex story line.

City of Ashes is the second book in the series, and I'll try not to give too much away about the first but I can't promise no spoilers!

One of the things I have really come to love about this series is how gritty it is, the fighting and action is pretty graphic in places and certainly grows in this book. It shows a real sense of danger which is important to ground the reader. The threat to the Shadowhunters is real, regardless of age, and is both physical and psychological. It gives a depth to the growth of the characters, and a series this long gives the chance to do this well. Relationships and friendships between certain characters strengthen or fall through, and more importantly (especially for the spin-off The Infernal Devices series) you get a real sense of history. The world Clare creates is so wonderfully complex it gives the story line an infinite number of places to go, and that keeps you guessing as to the direction the story will take.

Clary is still our guide through the strange, almost parallel world, which is great considering you're constantly finding out new pasts and information that can be slightly bewildering - at some points some of the new surprises are even better than in the first book. The reader becomes as engrossed in the world as Clarey is entangled in it. Her ability to move between the Shadowhunter world and and what we would see as the 'real', or natural world, is another grounding feature and is really helpful for a fantasy novel.

If you enjoyed the first you will like this too. I'm still a little weirded out between Clarey and Jace's strange and still growing relationship, but I think we all have our theories about that...

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