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Happy Shadowhunter Saturday! I’m glad to be back today with a post about this series that I’ve been reading with Erika from And On She Reads and Fiona from Fi’s Bibliofiles because this book was A LOT. Today, we will each be talking about City of Lost Souls, the 5th book in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

If you want to know how these posts work, you can find my announcement post about it here, and Fiona’s here!

Disclaimer: The first part of my post includes my mini-review for City of Lost Souls. As it is the 5th 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 this book, 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.

Book Cover

Title: City of Lost Souls (#5 The Mortal Instrumentst)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Published: 8th of May 2012 – Walker Books

Format: Paperback – 554 pages

“I don’t care,” Clary said. “He’d do it for me. Tell me he wouldn’t. If I were missing-“

“He’d burn the whole world down till he could dig you out of the ashes. I know,” Alec said.” – City of Lost Souls


What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other.

As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.


Trigger warnings: death, possession, gore, blood, drugs, hallucinations, attempted rape, violence, injury, war and battles.

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare is the 5th book in The Mortal Instruments series and the 9th book I’ve read for the Shadowhunter mission I’ve been doing with Fiona and Erika in the past months. This series is YA fantasy paranormal and this one, in particular, I found to get quite dark. I like dark books, but please be aware that it does get intense, violent and very dark in the middle.

The end of City of Fallen Angels was a bit of a let-down for me, but as soon as this one started, it was already very different to the previous book. This one started off with a lot of action and a lot seemed to happen in this instalment.

I have to say that I witnessed a really big character development from Clary, Izzy and Simon in this book which I really enjoyed. Izzy is no longer just the fearless Shadowhunter, she also has a soft side and I really appreciated that we got to see that here because it endeared me to her whereas I hadn’t been her biggest fan previously. Simon also shows a lot of courage and selflessness, which made me like him again.

But let’s be honest, the real star of this book is Clary herself. She grows massively in this book and I was both extremely worried for her multiple times, but also really proud of her. She has gone through so many things in this series, but I think it is really in this 5th book that she does become her true self. She is brave, strong-willed, she won’t take no for an answer, she is a tad (just a tad, okay, more like a lot) reckless, but above all, she wants to save the ones she loves. I can’t say more than that, but I truly loved her!

There was so much happening in this book, but I think that where Cassandra Clare really excelled were with the fight scenes. She has gotten better and better with her writing and it has been great seeing her evolution. There was a lot of tension in so many scenes, and she just made things so much more vivid than they had been previously for me. I really liked reading the fight scenes because it was like a proper battle and war, much like it had been in City of Glass, so it was nice to see some intense scenes again after a bit of a floppy 4th book.

I definitely liked this book more than the previous one and I have to just add quickly that the ending of City of Lost Souls nearly broke me. I had to hold back the tears and I really hope that something good will happen and that things will be fixed. I was also surprised about what was revealed at the end, and I have honestly no idea what will happen in the final book.


Overall, this was a much better instalment in The Mortal Instruments series and one that I quite enjoyed reading. This was really action-packed and there were so many things that happened that were surprising, creepy, scary and a little bit heart-breaking. I didn’t expect any of it!

As I just mentioned, I have found that Cassandra Clare’s writing style has gotten better, especially for her fight scenes that feel more believable and intense now. However, I still am not the biggest fan of the really long chapters and they did drag for me at times, although I remember that I read those last 3 chapters super fast because of everything that was happening!

I gave this book 4 stars (full ASPECTS rating below) and I did enjoy it a lot more than City of Fallen Angels. This one had a lot more going for it, and while I still don’t fully understand the level of hype this series gets, I am closer to understanding it. And I have no idea what to expect from the final book in this series.

If you love the Shadowhunter universe, characters that grow a lot, a darker atmosphere that gets creepy really fast, a lot of action and fighting, some really poignant scenes and getting your heart wrenched by the author, then this is the book for you, and I do recommend it to YA fantasy and paranormal fans.


Atmosphere – 6.5

Start – 6.5

Pacing – 6

Ending – 7.5

Character – 7

Theme – 6.5

Style – 7.5

Total = 47.5

This list includes some affiliate links. If you decide to purchase a book from one of my links, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UKAmazon FRAmazon USAbeBooksThe Book DepositoryAudible FRWaterstonesBarnes and NobleAudible UKScrib’dBlackwell’sBetterWorldBooksWordery

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?

“I think my favourite moment was when Clary tricked Sebastian with putting the rune on the apartment. He mocked her for her foolishness and poor run drawing skills, but she had been one step ahead of him. After the way he had treated her – and everyone else – it was good to see someone get one over on him.”

Who was your favourite character?

“For the first time ever in one of The Mortal Instruments, I think my favourite character was Clary! I really respected her actions in this book, and thought she was so strong, both as a person, and as a Shadowhunter, to come to some of the decisions she made, especially when she decided to do what she knew Jace would want, despite the risks to him and the pain it would cause her. I feel like we saw a lot more to her than a simpering girl in love which is how she has appeared at times previously.”

Have your thoughts about the series changed?

“Yes, they have. As above, I feel like Clary really showed so many more sides to herself within this book, and it’s made me love the series again, after the last book being a bit of a dud. With only one book left in The Mortal Instruments, I feel like this book managed to drill back up the excitement for the climax, and I’m really excited for what comes next.”

How do you think the characters developed with what happened in the book?

“I’ve already mentioned Clary, but I think the other character who we really saw a lot of development in with this book is Izzy. As well as being as badass as normal in combat situations, she was constantly running through a stream of thoughts and feelings, trying to process everything.

The other character we saw a lot of development from was Simon. After being a bit of an arse in the previous book, he showed bravery and selflessness, ready to put himself at huge risk to help not just Clary but Jace as well, someone he hadn’t previously been close to, as well as taking on the responsibility for all of the Shadowhunters.”

What do you think is going to happen next?

“There is going to be a full-blown war, I suspect. Nothing subtle about it! Sebastian has tried subtle before, and has pretended to be a good person too, ready to trick his sister and everyone else, which didn’t work. We don’t know where he went off to at the end, or how many Shadowhunters will either side with him or be forced to turn. The latter is what worries me the most; after seeing what he did to Amatis, we just can’t be sure what he’d resort to. I do think both Simon and Jace are going to have bigger roles to play than previously, but exactly what that will entail, I’m not sure.”

And now, here are Erika’s answers to some more spoilery plot points!

Jace and Sebastian have disappeared – the Clave give up looking for them as a priority:

“This just irritated me. The idea that Jace wasn’t worth their time made me feel naturally protective as I do like Jace as a protagonist, but it was a great way to start, as we didn’t know when he would pop up next.

Clary and Isabelle get a lot closer:

“This was really nice. They might be very different in a lot of ways but they managed to see beyond their differences to care about Jace. Izzy was also showing that she cared, having not previously done as much before, so that was really lovely.”

Jace and Sebastian go to get Clary – Luke gets injured:

“I was so worried about Luke! The fact that Sebestian knew exactly how to cause the most damage to him was concerning.”

Clary and her mum have to leave Luke’s house – they take Luke to the station so the werewolves can help him:  

“There was an obvious display of the whole Shadowhunters vs Downworlders situation that we have seen glimpses of, both with Luke and Magnus.”

Maia and Jordan leave for the Praetor Lupus to help Luke since he can’t heal on his own – they get close !

“It was good to see Maia and Jordan working together, although I spent the whole time worrying that Jordan was going to ruin things by being over-protective again.”

Maia and Jordan “get back together” – the Praetor Lupus find a way to help heal Luke:

“Is it just me or were all the teenagers super horny in this book? It was like Cassandra Clare was making up for five books worth of ‘getting close’ in a series of chapters!”

The Praetor Lupus learns from Raphael that Maureen has gone rogue:

“This was slightly worrying as she was so clearly out of control, and I worried about the impact it would have on Simon as he feels responsible for Maureen being turned, despite it not having been his fault.”

Clary goes to see the Seelie Queen – they decide on a deal:

“I don’t trust the Seelie Queen, never have, never will, and despite them coming to a deal in this situation, I was sure she was going to hold the fact Clary previously turned her down against her.”

Clary goes to steal the rings the Seelie Queen wants – she witnesses Jace and Sebastian in the library and overhears them:

“I felt for Clary in this situation. It was so difficult as a reader to know they were so close yet so far apart; I think CC did a great job of writing this scene.”

Alec keeps visiting the vampire Camille, Magnus’s ex-lover:

“I kept wanting to shout at Alec through the book! I felt for him, obviously insecure and unsure about how to cope with being in a relationship, but this is a big no-no, fantasy book or otherwise!”

Alec, Simon, Clary, Isabelle and Magnus try to find a way to find Jace:

“I really respected the level of love that was demonstrated for Jace by all four of them, and the level of determination too. The fact that Simon in particular was prepared to take the risks they did to help him made for a really good plot.”

Clary portals to where Jace and Sebastian are:

“Clary was always going to go after Jace, and was prepared to face both Sebastian and the consequences of what she did. I had more respect for Clary in this book than in any of the other previous books.”

Clary lives with Jace and Sebastian: they go to the club where things get dark and creepy:  

“The whole dynamic with the three of them in the flat was strange, even knowing that Clary was trying to fit in. The club scene was reallllllly freaky and weird.”

The fight at the demon shop:

“This was one of the best written fight sequences we’ve seen in The Mortal Instruments series in my opinion. Clary managing to really stand up for herself in the situation was a display of how much she has learned from Jace before this book.”

Clary tries to run away, but ends up following Sebastian (fight with demons, he saves her, they go to see an Iron Sister):

“This was an impressive piece of dedication by Clary. It was interesting watching her and Sebastian interact, and she was wavering almost over whether he might have something to him rather than just pure evil as she fights to find out more.”

Jace goes to collect the second Mortal Cup created by the Iron Sister – he kills her and he remembers his real self through the injury inflicted by her. Jace wants to give himself up to the Clave but Clary gets in the way:  

“This scene was so emotionally driven and so powerful in multiple ways; again, I really think CC did a great job with this scene. The way that Clary and Jace could really truly see each other, if just for a short while, was beautiful, but so painful because it showed the real contrast to what Jace was like when connected to Sebastian.”

Sebastian and Jace intend to raise Lilith and completely destroy earth with a new dark Nephilim race:

“When Clary finds this out, she immediately realises she’s made a huge mistake in not taking Jace to the Silent Brothers. Jace confesses it was his plan in the final moments of the rune being damaged and Clary is horrified.”

Simon, Magnus, Izzy and Alec head to Luke’s farm and Simon calls on the Angel who gives him a sword to separate Sebastian and Jace – The Angel takes away the Mark of Cain:  

“I had a huge amount of respect for Simon to go about doing this. Especially as a vampire, he was taking a risk, speaking on behalf of the Shadowhunters. Deciding to accept the exchange of the sword for the Mark that had been protecting him was a huge decision, and showed a lot of character growth.”

Clary manages to get in contact with Simon through the rings, tell him Sebastian and Jace’s plan. Izzy, Simon, Alec and Magnus head off to find reinforcements and to go help Clary save Jace:

“When it turned out that Sebastian and the Seelie Queen had been communicating behind Clary’s back, I wasn’t at all surprised, because I don’t trust either of them! It was a great plot twist though, and I loved it. I had a huge amount of respect for Clary when she destroyed the ring, despite it being her only contact point.”

Clary and Sebastian fight – she wounds him and Jace because of their bond – TW for threatened / attempted sexual assault:

“The fight was brutal and Sebastian really showed just how evil he was during this. Not only was it violent but it made my skin crawl, the things he said to Clary.”

Sebastian brings Clary to the island where his followers have gathered. Sebastian calls on Lilith who puts her blood in the Cup – he makes Amatis drink from the Cup and she is turned into dark Nephilim:

“I hated that Amatis got dragged into the situation. At the same time, as a plot point, it certainly motivates the thought of – who next?”

Izzy, Alec, Magnus, Simon, the wolves and some other Shadowhunters turn up: battle ensues – Magnus gets wounded:

“This, again, was a well written battle scene. It really conveyed the chaos of a battle rather than just a one on one fight, and I think it shows the improvement in CC writing as well as how the characters have changed and developed throughout the series. I was so worried about Magnus!”

Clary stabs Jace with Glorious (the Angel Michael’s sword), he catches on fire and the bond between him and Sebastian is broken:

“As I mentioned in the questions segment, I was so proud of Clary for the decision she made. Not just as a Shadowhunter, but as a person in love, doing what they know the person they love would prefer as an option. From the previous mistake, Clary knew Jace hated being connected to Sebastian, hated the person he was with the connection, and wanted it to be over. Despite knowing that she might lose him, she took the chance. The scene was raw and painful and brilliant.”

Another really long epilogue in which many awful and heart-breaking things happen – Please don’t let Malec be really over. Jace has Heavenly fire inside him.

“This epilogue about broke me. When it turned out Magnus had followed Alec on his way to meet Camille, I knew what was coming but I was a sobbing mess for hours after (I might also be hormonal, but mainly Malec). The fact that Jace was himself again, and we got to see him and Clary interact as normal after such a long time with him not being himself was a reminder of how much I like Jace as a character. These pages were painful and wonderful, and the last line sent shivers down my spine!”

I really enjoyed reading Erika’s answers to these questions, and Fiona also had some great thoughts on this book. It is a really fun experience to read these books together as it helps with everything that happens to discuss all the elements and also scream and cry together ahah.

Now, I have to prepare myself for City of Heavenly Angels which I will be starting this weekend and I don’t think I’m ready, I have no idea what will happen, but I know it’s going to be intense!

Don’t forget to head over to Fiona’s post to read her mini-review and my thoughts, and head over to Erika’s post to read her mini-review and Fiona’s thoughts!

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this post, see you soon, stay safe,

Ellie xx

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