Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Review: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Be aware there are minor spoilers for the book below

In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary's own brother.
Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.
The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris - but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?
When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee - even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned...
Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!

I have always been an avid fan of 'The Mortal Instruments' original trilogy, I loved them. I thought they were fresh and innovative and the characters were brilliant. Then it was announced there would be a second trilogy to follow on from the first and continue the story, and I got excited all over again about another chance to go back into this world I'd loved so much. But there was something about books four, five and now six that didn't quite recapture the magic I'd felt with the original three.

So I was looking forward to 'City of Heavenly Fire' but it wasn't with the burning enthusiasm I had come to associate with Cassandra Clare, and for me personally the book really didn't live up to my previous hype and excitement.
Don't get me wrong it's still a fantastic book with a compelling story and a host of complex and beautifully written characters, but there were a few things that just let the book down for me.

Firstly it could have benefited from some heavy editing in places. There were places where it became so bogged down in description (particularly of peoples hair and eye colour which I only have a limited amount of interest in when there are wars on the horizon) that I really had to fight to keep my interest going.
My second big gripe is with a series of this scope with such a vast array of characters, I expected the stakes to be higher and for there to be more deaths. Maybe I've been watching too much Game of Thrones, but for me personally, if there's a massive war with battles all over the place, I expect there to be some casualties. I want to feel the stakes and how desperately the remaining characters want to win - to avenge and revenge those they've lost, and we just didn't get that. We had one death, one almost death and a tragic moment with a character that was on the way to being resolved by the end of the epilogue. It didn't feel real (yes I know, this is a book about demon hunters, but bear with me.) I want to be desperate for these characters, I want to cry for them and feel for them and be terrified that not all of them will survive. I don't want needless death, but on a war of this scale to have every one of the main characters survive and have a happy ending felt like a bit of a let down.

So I enjoyed the book. It was great, a fantastic bit of escapism with some characters I love and a world I've come to adore. The banter was brilliant, the plot was on the whole great, apart from a few parts where it dragged (but that takes us back to the editing) and it was fantastic to get another glimpse at these characters, and even to tie in some characters from Cassie's Clockwork series. But I didn't finish the book and the series feeling satisfied. I felt a little nonplussed, and if I'm honest, a little bit let down. But that's just one person, I'd love to know how you felt about the ending to the series, let me know in the comments section below.

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