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Happy Saturday everyone and welcome to the newest edition of Shadowhunter Saturday where Erika, Fiona and I will be talking about City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. This is the 4th book in The Mortal Instrument series and the 8th book we’ve read in our Shadowhunter mission.
Disclaimer: The first part of my post includes my mini-review for City of Fallen Angels. As it is the 4th book in The Mortal Instruments series, I will do my best to keep it as spoiler-free as I possibly can, while still talking about my thoughts on it.
If you are interested in reading the books by Cassandra Clare, you can find all my Shadowhunter Saturday posts here, in which I always include a mini-review at the start before the spoilery discussion.
At the end of this post you will find all of Erika’s thoughts on the various plot points and information we learn in City of Fallen Angels, so keep on reading to find out! And if you head over to Erika’s post you will find Fiona’s thoughts, and if you go see Fiona’s post you’ll find my thoughts, as well as each of their mini-reviews.
Title: City of Fallen Angels (#4 The Mortal Instruments)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: 5th of April 2011 – Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Hardback – 425 pages
“Hearts are breakable,” Isabelle said. “And I think even when you heal, you’re never what you were before”.” – City of Fallen Angels
The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.
But nothing comes without a price.
Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
Trigger Warnings: death, murder, mind/body control, mention of abuse, drinking blood, attacks, dead bodies, dead babies, cheating, mention of the loss of a loved one, violence, blood, cutting skin/injuring people with knives and gore.
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare is the 4th book in The Mortal Instruments series which is YA fantasy paranormal with a touch of romance. Throughout the Shadowhunter mission I’ve been doing with Fiona and now with Erika, I think that unfortunately, this might be the one that I have enjoyed the least.
I’m going to try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, so please bear with me if I go off on tangents or get waffly.
After the events of the previous book, City of Glass, which was very action-packed and had revelations flying left, right and centre, I was expecting this one to literally start with a bang. But it didn’t, and since I was expecting it, it surprised me a little. When this one started, it was kind of like everything had reverted back to “normal”, but then once we see Jace, it’s clear that’s untrue, but that was the only inkling I had that all hell had broken loose previously.
The main issue I had with this book I think was the characters. While I thought that Clary had matured and had finally found a voice and a way to defend and fight for herself and not just stand there frozen, most of the other characters kind of flopped. This is the 4th book in this series, so you would expect some kind of character development, but I actually feel that apart from Isabelle and Clary, the other characters reverted back to previous versions of themselves so to speak. I really did like Isabelle as a character in this book whereas I hadn’t really warmed to her previously, so that was a change!
I had loved Simon from the minute we met him, but he irritated me a lot in this book, and I still can’t put my finger on why that was. He just didn’t sound or act like the Simon we know. I also just wanted to shout, shake and slap Jace. I get what he is going through, but I felt like he was so hot and cold, distant and intense, there and not, understandable and completely confusing, all rolled up into one massive tension for the whole way through. I also find that the fact that the adults never know where their kids are and supposedly let them do what they want is just frustrating and very unbelievable.
There is obviously quite a lot going on in this book, but apart from the very last chapters, it doesn’t really feel like anything is happening and that makes it sound quite weird. We split this book into 4 sections to read and discuss every week, and I remember telling Erika and Fiona that I really enjoyed section 1 and that it felt oddly comforting, but I kind of lost that feeling as the book went on. I did enjoy it and it was an easy read, but I wasn’t as invested in it as I was in previous books or different series (The Eldest Curses, I’m looking at you).
To be honest, I did like this book and I do feel like Clare has gotten better at writing, and particularly her battle scenes, but I think I just was expecting something a bit different from City of Fallen Angels. However, I do think that things will take a much darker turn and become really action-packed and high-stakes in City of Lost Souls. At least I hope so and that’s what the ending hints at in any case.
Let me just say though, that ending shocked me a lot, I did not see that coming and I’m still a little bit speechless over it. It is frustrating to me that Clare always packs the last pages with mind-blowing things because I want them to come before so I get to see what happens straight away, but I will admit that I was just incredibly surprised by that turn of events.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, I think this was one of those meeh books that are really good in some parts and kind of boring in others. The thing that bugs me the most so far in Cassandra Clare books is that she always leaves it until the very last chapter or the very last pages for the shit to fly (pardon my French), for revelations and shocking turns, which yeah, I guess is a good marketing strategy to get people to pick up the next book, but, as someone who has been reading fantasy for years and years, I like when the tension is built up throughout the whole story and we get small amounts of twists through the book. And not just having everything dumped on me in the final pages.
I do think that I am getting more used to her writing style and I did find that the pace was better here, the massive chapters didn’t bother me as much as before. My major problem was just with the characters. They weren’t depicted and didn’t come across as those who we had just left in City of Glass, which is understandable to some extent after what happened, but it kind of felt rather stunted to me for some reason. I think I just got overly frustrated at Clary and Jace and wanted to bash their heads together at the end ahah.
I gave this book 3 stars (full ASPECTS rating below). I did enjoy it, but I think that there were just too many frustrating moments and I just wanted more than I got. It is the 4th book in the series so I’m not surprised there is a little lull, but I am hoping that the next book will pick up the pace, that we will finally know what the hell is going on and that things will finally start clicking into place.
Thank you so much to Erika and Fiona for reading this book for me and I look forward to diving into City of Lost Souls with you both next month!
Atmosphere – 4
Start – 4
Pacing – 6
Ending – 6.5
Characters – 3.5
Theme – 5
Style – 6.5
Total = 35.5
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If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK – Amazon FR – Amazon US – AbeBooks – The Book Depository – Audible FR – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Audible UK – Scrib’d – Kobo – Blackwell’s – BetterWorldBooks
Now I’m going to pass the reigns over to Erika so we can hear all her thoughts on the plot elements and spoilery events of this book! We have all three answered the same questions that you can find in each of our posts! If you have not read these books and do want to read them, I would advise you against continuing reading this post as there are SPOILERS!!
Here are Erika’s answers for the more generic questions about the book!
What was your favourite moment?
“It was tricky to pick a favourite moment in this one because so much of it seemed to be a steady line, but I’m going to say when Clary destroyed the rune on Jace’s chest, because it showed how much she had learned, not just over the course of the books plural, but just in the recent time period too. It showed she had started thinking like a Shadowhunter.”
Who was your favourite character?
“I’ve always liked Simon up to this book, but I thought he was a bit of an ass here! I’m going to say both Izzy and Maia, as they showed the power of forgiveness and still being a total badass.”
Have your thoughts about the series changed?
“I think because we are reading these since they’ve all been published, we knew things weren’t just going to be three further books of happily ever after, but I’m still surprised the direction this book went in, and just how dark it was. This book struck a balance between comforting normality in the beginning and truly awful at the end, which just about sums up being a Shadowhunter, probably!”
How do you think the characters developed with what happened in the book?
“I feel like the only character development that happened was with Clary in terms of her training as a Shadowhunter. Everyone else seems to have stayed the same. And Jace…. <sigh>.”
What do you think is going to happen next?
“Yeah, no matter how many flaws this book had, the ending of this book made my jaw drop open and I’m genuinely concerned for the welfare of our little team. eek!”
And now for more spoilery, in-depth discussions about some of the plotlines!!
Simon dating Maia and Izzy:
“Simon, Simon, Simon. You idiot. This just went to prove that, vampire or not, he was still thinking like an idiot teenage boy. His whole behaviour towards both of them really put me off him as a character, and up until now I’ve been a big fan. So, thumbs down.”
Simon is approached by people working for who he thinks is Raphael but ends up being Camille, who claims she is the rightful head of the vampire clan. She offers Simon a deal: help her, and he can become her second in command:
“I always like it when Cassie Clare crosses over her characters, and just like when we saw Tessa in the previous book, this was a really interesting interaction. But I also knew there must have been far more that she wasn’t saying, because we’ve seen how she behaved in the past.”
Simon tells his mum he is a vampire and she is terrified. He uses his vampire powers to persuade her it was a dream, but is very shaken, and leaves home with spare clothes and the last of his blood:
“I did feel a bit sorry for Simon at this point, especially when his mum starts backing away from him praying, because it must have been heartbreaking. But I was surprised by the ‘compulsion’ powers he was able to use, and wonder what that means for Simon in the future, both with his mother and in terms of being a vampire.”
Jace and Clary in the park; Seelie queen appears:
“I do think there’s going to be more to it with the Seelie Queen. No matter the (numerous) flaws, Cassie Clare always has long term plans for these things, and no interaction happens by accident.”
Shadowhunters being murdered in various patches of the city:
“I must admit I’ve been left a bit confused by this. We know who was doing it, but not why, in the bigger picture. I’d have been curious to see more of this in detail!”
Clary and Luke visit the Silent City where the dead Shadowhunters are being kept in preparation for their funerals. Clary uses a rune to make the dead speak, and it is horrific. Luke destroys the rune with acid, but they hear the body speak the name Camille before he is silent again:
“This was creepy as hell. I completely agree with Ellie: why is no one helping Clary learn more about her abilities? She might be unique, but studying runes in more detail will help her, and it annoyed me that Maryse has promised to make it happen and not done so. Clary is stronger than any other Shadowhunter other than Jace because of their extra Angel blood, so why are they not investing in her future? I think Maryse – and maybe some of the others – are scared of her, and after seeing this, it’s understandable. Luke seems to be the only person willing to discuss her powers openly.”
Jace starts avoiding Clary due to the dreams he keeps having of killing her, but, being a bloody Herondale, doesn’t communicate this to her:
“OH THE ANGST. Bloody teenagers, bloody Jace, bloody Herondales.”
Clary and Jocelyn visit the hospital and discover someone is trying to make more babies like Sebastian; they see a dead baby with clawed hands and black eyes:
“Although this scene was short, being the sister to a stillborn baby and a mother of infant loss, I found this part really triggering. I understand why it was important in the grand scheme of things, but it was brutal.”
Simon moves in with his new bandmate Kyle, who Jace reveals to be a werewolf:
“Similar to Ellie, I think this really showed the immaturity of Simon, because when I was 16, if a total stranger had offered me somewhere to stay, that would scream MURDERER ALERT. And superhuman or not, Simon could still be killed.”
At a band performance, Simon runs off stage ill and ends up biting a human for the first time. After he is confronted by Izzy and Maia who realise he has been seeing them both. Kyle then appears and is attacked by Maia; it turns out he turned her into a werewolf:
“The whole build up to the band performance, I was willing Simon to go and get some blood, so when he bit Maureen I wasn’t surprised but was desperately sad, not just for him, but for her, because he knows what it’s like to have that forced upon you and did it anyway. I was so grateful that Kyle / Jordan was around… Until just after. When it turned out he had been Maia’s ex.”
Clary fights a demon with help from Izzy, and goes to see Jace. They get jiggy with it, and Jace injures her – mildly – with a knife. He breaks down and admits the nightmares. Clary takes him to the Silent City where the Brothers tell them that he needs the purification rituals placed on a baby placed on him again because he died. Hopeful, Jace agrees to stay while the Brothers adapt the ritual:
“I really think this shows the character development in Clary, as rather than fluttering around like an irritating hummingbird, which she reminded me of at times before, she turned around with a solution. It’s showing their relationship dynamic to be becoming more equal, rather than her relying on him all the time, and I think that’s healthy for both of them, and also for younger readers who are watching this unfold.”
Jace is tricked by Lilith in his dream:
“Honestly although we’re heard reference to Lilith through warlocks being the children of Lilith, I never thought she was a real person. So when she trapped Jace through the dream, I was horrified and had a bad, bad feeling. Jace needs a bloody spa break.”
Luke and Jocelyn’s engagement party, i.e.; the night that all the teenagers disappeared and no one seemed to notice:
“WE DIDN’T EVEN GET TO SEE JOCELYN’S WEDDING DRESS. Like, excuse me. But seriously, Jocelyn makes this big deal about Clary having to be at home and then doesn’t notice when all the teenagers disappear?? What are these parents even like?”
Jace, under Lilith’s control, kidnaps Clary. Simon is also led to Lilith:
“I was genuinely scared Jace would kill Clary and then be left to deal with the consequences. I know it sounds childish, but it made me so sad that Lilith used their love – and the promise of commitment – to trick Clary, because they’ve struggled so much to get to a place where Jace especially is being honest with her, and then this happens. I was genuinely emotional when Clary realised she was being tricked.”
Maia, Alec, Izzy and Kyle / Jordan follow to Lilith’s hideout:
“I think Simon, Jace and Clary were very lucky that the other group got there in time to deal with the demon worshipers when they did, as if they had also been added into the equation with Lilith, it would have been very hard to manage to get away. The scene with the room full of babies made me have to put the book down for a bit, even though I wanted to carry on reading. As much as I enjoyed the action side of this book, there really, really should have been a trigger warning for this.”
Lilith forces Simon to drink some of Sebastian’s blood so he can bring him back to life. Clary tries to convince the possessed Jace that Lilith will still kill her. She remembers the acid attack on the rune and defaces the rune controlling Jace:
“From the war scene in the previous book, I remembered what Simon had said demon blood was like to him, so knew it would be a hugely unpleasant experience for him doing what Lilith had asked, and I was really worried about the impact on him, as much as he had been an ass earlier on. When Clary acted quickly enough to free Jace I was really proud of her, and it finally showed her as the actual protagonist in her own story, even though it didn’t all go to plan.”
Despite both Simon and Jace fighting hard for her, Lilith attacks Clary. The third time she goes to whip her, Simon manages to get in the way and the mark of Cain destroys her:
“I was so proud of Clary refusing to show Lilith how much pain she was in, again, it really showed her growth. And not because ‘that’s what Shadowhunters are supposed to do’ but because that’s what she needed to do to get through that moment. When Simon jumped in just in time I was really relieved, but I do wonder what the longer term consequences will be. If Lilith is the mother of warlocks and demons, what happens now she’s gone?”
Clary and Jace share a moment on the roof where she swears she loves him unconditionally, and knows he would never hurt her on purpose. She goes downstairs to make sure her mum doesn’t see Sebastian’s body, leaving Jace alone:
“This was basically the equivalent of the teenage girl going into the basement in a horror film. I was like DO NOT LEAVE THE ROOF CLARY.”
Sebastian uses the control of the rune he has over Jace to control Jace once again, finishing the book with Sebastian alive and under his power:
“Of all the endings in the books we’ve read so far, this one got the biggest reaction from me. Even though I ‘knew’ something bad was going to happen, I did NOT see this coming, and spent the rest of the month nagging Ellie and Fiona to finish the book so we could discuss it. ARGH!!!!”
That was a really interesting discussion and I loved reading Erika’s thoughts about City of Fallen Angels. What I love about this mission we are doing together is that we all have really different thoughts and opinions about the various plot points and characters, and I think that makes it a lot of fun.
I’m hoping that City of Lost Souls won’t be a let down like this one was. Maybe my expectations were too high or anything after The Red Scrolls of Magic will naturally be a disappointment, but I do think that the ending of this book implies a lot of crazy things ahead.
P.S. I am glad we saw some of Alec and Magnus again!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this post, see you soon, stay safe,