Review: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

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5 out of 5 heavenly stars

This is the last book in the 6 book series of The Mortal Instruments. It goes out with a bang.

Well, it starts with a bang, too. We meet a whole new group of Shadowhunters at the Los Angeles institute during an attack by Sebastian and his Endarkened: Shadowhunters turned evil by the Infernal Cup. A little spitfire named Emma Carstairs is there with her friends, the Blackthorns. We meet a whole mess of siblings, but clearly, the most important one is Jules. He’s Emma’s best friend, and other half, in a way. Another interesting addition is Tiberius – one of the Blackthorne children. He probably has some form of Aspergers or autism. I point this out because Clare has tried to make her world reflect our world’s diversity  – and I think that’s important that she is including differently-abled people, especially when it is pointed out that the Shadowhunter world doesn’t like people who are different. This was a prologue, but clearly Cassandra Clare was setting us up to know that these kids are important, and sure enough, they feature in the next wave of books, starting with Lady Midnight.

Far away from the madness of the attack on Los Angeles, we meet our regular crew in New York. Jace is still trying to deal with the heavenly fire trapped in his veins, and is being helped by Jordan. The fire racing in his veins means that he needs to remain calm and focused, not exactly a Jace strongpoint. This also throws a wrench in Clary and Jace’s relationship – as smooching (or any physical activity that might get him wound up) is strictly off limits!

Los Angeles isn’t the only place that Sebastian attacks, and all the Shadowhunters are called to Idris. They’ve never faced an enemy like this, and they handle it in the usual ham-handed way. I hate how arrogant the old school Shadowhunters are. The Clave is so hidebound and so racist and xenophobic. It’s irritating. But it does add a lot of tension and danger, especially to the younger crew. They have to find ways around their dumb asses to get things done. Which is exactly what happens, sending our crew where no human has gone and survived before. Of course.. .they aren’t all human, are they?

I don’t want to ruin it – there are so many twists and turns, and a HUGE FREAKING BETRAYAL rocks the Shadowhunter world. I mean, you had to know it was coming… but the way it was executed was amazing. Then we have two groups of our main crew telling the story. It was so well done, and so… just so good. And the relationships continue to simmer. We’ve got my fave, Sizzy, with Isabelle and Simon needing to DTR: Define The Relationship. I just think theirs is so realistic. Isabelle wants to be cool and detached and Simon is quietly pining, and not wanting to put her in a box. Both of them are afraid to just say how they feel. Meanwhile everyone is all KISS ALL READY! At the end of the last book, my other faves, Malec had broken up. Alex is devastated and Magnus is trying to carry on. I liked that in this one, Alec called him on some of his BS – he keeps secrets and expects a loved on to just DWI. Deal. With. It. Both of these relationships, on the verge of happily ever after, are what punch you right in the gut as we get closer to the end.

I really liked being transported to another world. I also liked that Sebastian’s motives weren’t traditional. He has his own sick spin on being a master villain. The same themes of family, what is a family and loyalty are explored in this, like the others. The Shadowhunters take care of their own, and there are a lot of manufactured families because of the high mortality rate. You’d think that would make them more accepting of people… but the older generation somehow doesn’t get that. Or it might be that those in Idris are more insular, because the Lightwoods are clearly accepting of other people and downworlders. I mean, clearly. Like smooching them, kinda clearly. Then we have all kind of downworlder betrayals, and you can see why maybe some people can’t get past the differences.

I loved this so much more the 2nd time. The first time, I thought there was too much making out. I didn’t notice it this time. Last time, I remember that I thought Clary and Jace had really chilled out being irritating… but this time through the series, I didn’t fin d them irritating at all. I don’t know why. It’s weird. For the last two years, I’ve gone on about how irritating they are… and then I re-read it and they aren’t. The snark is in full effect, and  I really enjoyed reading it again. I marked so many funny and thoughtful passages. Here is one of my favorites:

“Heroes aren’t always the ones who win,” she said. “They’re the ones who lose, sometimes. But they keep fighting, they keep coming back. They don’t give up. That’s what makes them heroes.”

and

“Yes,” Magnus said. “Clary was born special. Simon here had specialness thrust upon him. He adapted. Because the world isn’t divided into the special and the ordinary. Everyone has the potential to be extraordinary. As long as you have a soul and free will, you can be anything, do anything, choose anything. Simon should get to choose.”

I just couldn’t give it less than 5 stars. I enjoyed it the whole way through, though I saw a lot of people didn’t like the first half and found it slow. The ending is amazing, though. There is danger and there is some redemption, it’s just so damn clever. And also… spine picture. HELLO!

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