Sunday, 10 April 2011

Review: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

I've tried to keep spoilers to a minimum, but you have been warned, there are SPOILERS BELOW. I recommend reading the book before reading the review.

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 – most importantly of all – she can finally call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. Someone is murdering the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine's Circle, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. And 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.

I’ve taken a lot of time over this review, read the book twice and given everything a lot of thought. Not just to wait until people would be less grumpy about spoilers, but also because this latest instalment from Cassie Clare has given me plenty to think about.

I loved this book. I love the writing, I love the character developments, and the new level that everything has been taken to. Cassie Clare had been saying that these next three novels marked a shift in the series – a darker twist, and she more than delivered.

I loved the tone, it was a bit of a shift down from the previous three novels. Instead of it all being high and terror and really high stakes all the way through, it was a tiny bit more relaxed. Instead of having to learn a ton of information about this new world we were plunging in to, the war is won, they’ve survived, they’re back, and technically all should be good. So even though the stakes are still high and the stress was fairly killing me by the end of the book, it was nice to see some vaguely normal bits of life – like the gig, and the training and Halo.
It made the contrast when it got all stressful that much bigger. In fact, it kind of felt like a cross between Gossip Girl and the Vampire Diaries during the engagement party – it was awesome just to see a slightly different side to their lives, instead of constant high stakes and death.

Ah Jace and Clary, where do I begin?...
It was so good to finally see some making out without the ick factor of ‘hey we might be related’ and the dirty sexy alley scene? I may swoon…
Whilst I hated the problems between them meant they didn’t spend all that much time together throughout the book, they sure made up for it when they were around each other. Cassie Clare is officially a Queen of Make-Out scenes. I also loved seeing the next chapter. So many series or books end after the big epic battle and the hero and heroine get together and they’re going to go away and live happily ever after. But we’re actually getting to see it, and to realize that it isn’t necessarily happily ever after – but they’re going to try damn hard to get there. Well Clary is, Jace can be a little frustrating with his whole ‘I am too evil, I must punish myself by not seeing you’ and I’m so glad that Clary totally calls him on it and points out that it’s not actually all about him.
I love that we get to see how strong they can be – as well as how sexy – and the showdown on the rooftop really showed how far they’re willing to go to ultimately save each other. Although Clary is a poo for not running when she was told.

The whole rooftop showdown was epic. I genuinely couldn’t see a way out of it without EVERYONE DYING and I was absolutely terrified. It was nice to see Clary put to use some of her training – actually we got to see her do that a couple of times during the novel, and it made her less damsel in distress. Not that she’s ever really been a damsel in distress, but she held her own quite impressively with some really ingenious ideas for weapons.

I love Alec and Magnus together. I was sad that they weren’t involved more, but I’m looking forward to more from them in the coming books. What I was most struck by was Clare’s tackling of the idea of an immortal and a mortal in a relationship. We’ve had a lot of fiction where it’s idealised, and the downsides aren’t really explored, so to have those issues raised – particularly the jealousy over past relationships and how fleeting those mortal relationships are to an immortal was fascinating. And I’m so glad that even though it was more of a side story, that this was tackled. And I’m really looking forward to seeing more of them and this fresh dynamic now the issues have been raised, cos they ain’t just gonna disappear.

Also, South Carolina. That is all.

In fact that’s something I love about Clare’s novels. She doesn’t just focus on Jace and Clary. There are a number of really engaging and important characters, all with their own intertwining story lines, and to be able to juggle that many threads and keep all of them interesting so that the reader doesn’t mind they’ve swapped to someone else’s story, is a true art.

I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Simon, and after this instalment, I love him even more; just throwing it out there… And even though he was a bum for dating both girls at once, I’m so glad that he and Isabelle seem to be working something out, and I want to see how that develops and whether it will work out in the end. Also, I want more of Isabelle please, she is awesome and there wasn’t enough of her in this book. More please.
As well as our regular characters, we were introduced to a few new ones, and I love Kyle/Jordan, and so glad that Maia might get her happy ending as well as Isabelle – they’re both awesome and I hated the Simon hurt them.

I love Cassie Clare’s writing style. I love the voices, they are so clear you always  know exactly who’s talking and I love the humour and the sarcasm. Some of the conversations between Simon and Jace had me laughing out loud. It has been so amazing to start by reading Clare’s short stories and fan fiction and reading each book that’s been released, and they’ve all been good, but her writing has gotten even better the further we get into the series. I think this is the strongest book in the Mortal Instruments series and I cannot wait to see where she goes from here.

Despite the fact that I was nearly at the end of the book and everything looked set for a relatively happy ending, I wasn’t fooled – I knew something awful was going to happen I just wasn’t sure what. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Oh good lord that was terrifyingly horrible and heart breaking, because this time Jace seemed more aware of what was going on, and was still unable to stop it. However, it does leave us with an awesome set up for the next few books.

I’m intrigued to see where them becoming blood brothers leads next. It can’t be anywhere good, but you can bet it’s going to be awesome.
There were so many new plots brought into play, and a few seemed resolved but will probably come back to bite us in a later book. It had all of the excitement of a new series without the frantic world building that often happens in a first book. Which was a brilliant combination. It was a fresh start, a whole new take on a world we’ve already been introduced to, but one that can still shock and surprise us.

I’m also fascinated to see the references to ‘Clockwork Angel’ and the characters and relationships introduced to us there, and how the two series are going to overlap over the next four books. It’s made me even more curious about Magnus than I already was.

So a very exciting follow up to ‘City of Glass’ and possibly the strongest book in the series so far, I loved ‘City of Fallen Angels’. I’m still a little more caught up in the Infernal Devices series, so I’m really excited that we get the next instalment for that series late this year too – Cassie is spoiling us!
And now, I have to go purchase the audio book for COFA because it’s read by Ed Westwick, and he makes me swoon.

Edit to include the Audiobook:
I've since had chance to listen to the audio book, and I tell you now, buy it. Buy it just for Ed Westwick's beautiful voice and the fabulous accents. Hear him do Italian, French and american. And they're all just divine.
On a slightly more serious note, whilst I love Westwick's portrayal, Molly Quinn's didn't do so much for me. I love Clary as a character, but if I'd just heard her in the audiobook and not read the paper version, I would have hated her. She sounds so vapid and completely consumed by Jace just through Quinn's portrayal which I found really sad. There also isn't much difference between most of the voices Quinn does, which makes it less easy to follow. Westwick you get a really strong divide so you know exactly who's talking when.

All in all, a bit mixed. Loved Westwick's parts but I'm not fussed on Quinn's. However for me that still isn't a dealbreaker and it's one of my most listened to audiobooks.


  1. Fantastic review! You seemed to have been able to capture all the things I wanted to say but just couldn't articulate because of how stunned I was after reading. Thanks for the great review!

  2. Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Thanks so much ! I enjoyed reading this review because It's all so true. Just as The Story Queen said you captured everything so perfect. I myself really loved the book so much and I can't wait till the next book is out and to afterwards read your revieuw !

  4. There is a lot more romance in this book than the others! Simon,iz, maya, jordan , clary, jace, alec, mangus, and lots more! This is one of the best series i have ever read! It has drama, romance action, adventure suspense, and friendship! No wonder this series is popular! Should be as popular as the "Hunger Games" or even more. ( both great series btw)! Must read series!