Title: City of Ashes: The Mortal Instruments Book Two
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. MacElderry Books
Plot Summary: City of Ashes begins with the summoning of the Greater Demon Agramon, the killing of the warlock boy who summoned him, and Valentine seizing control of demon through the Mortal Cup. After this ominous beginning, the scene switches to Clary and Simon, whose deepening relationship is shown through a shared kiss. This new turn of events cannot change the fact that Clary's mother still has not recovered from her coma nor that Clary has to deal with Jace being her brother. Jace, on the other hand, is kicked out of the Institute by his step-mother and goes to see Luke, picking a fight with his werewolf pack in the process. Clary and Luke manage to persuade Jace to return home in order to prove he is not a traitor planted by Valentine in the Clave and, more importantly, that the time he spent as a Lightwood was not feigned. Instead, Jace meets the Clave's Inquisitor and is thrown in the Silent City for his rude behavior. This puts Jace right in the path of Valentine when he, along with Agramon, invade the City to retrieve the second Mortal Instrument: the Soul-Sword.
Critical Evaluation: As the second book in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Ashes continues the plot of the war between demons and the Shadowhunter Clave, as well as the relationship developments between Clary, Jace, and their father Valentine, as well as between Clary and Simon and Clary and Jace. The foreshadowing regarding Simon's character development has been in place since the first book but comes in much stronger by the beginning of City of Ashes regarding his transformation. The development of the main characters (Clary and Jace) was done well, especially regarding Clary's continued entry into the Shadowhunter world and her developing abilities. Similarly, Jace's emotional changes and ability to depend on his family and Luke were shown in a manner that contrasts with his superior mask. The more minor characters, such as Alec, Isabelle, Luke, and Simon also change but not enough time is allotted to make them appear as important as they should. The dialog within City of Ashes seems even wittier than the previous installment which is perhaps due to the author coming to terms with the characters as well as the increasing plot-tension which would lead the characters to using fewer pleasantries in conversation.
Reader's Annotation: Clary is still trying to come to terms to the Shadowhunter world while juggling what she has learned about Jace and her boyfriend Simon. When she discovers she has a new ability that no other Shadowhunter has, Clary realizes she may play a larger part in the war against Valentine and the demons than she thought.
Information About the Author: Cassandra Clare's parents were abroad in Iran when she was born, a hallmark of her future globe-hopping life. She began writing in High School and worked for entertainment magazines after college.
Her first novel, City of Bones, was started in 2004 and was inspired by her favorite city, Manhattan, New York. Read more about the author and keep up with the newest releases in the Mortal Instruments series at her website.
Genre: Supernatural; Fiction; Romance; Urban Fantasy
Curriculum Ties N/A
- Focus on the newest developments between Clary and Jace and Clary and Simon. How do the latest plot twists affect their relationships?
- Describe how Clary is a strong protagonist, focusing on the discovery of her special ability to create new and more powerful runes. How does this compare to Jace's near superhuman physical abilities? Why do you believe the author divided the powers this way?
Reading Level: 15+
- While City of Ashes does discuss some difficult topics such as when an individual loves the wrong person (forbidden love), the characters deal with it in a realistic fashion and attempt to follow the conventions of society.
- As in the first book of the Mortal Instruments, there is violence which is suited to the battlefield which is the lives of the Shadowhunters. In City of Ashes, however, Downworlder teens are murdered and the violence is darker as the stakes in the war increase. Still, the violence is not sadistic nor are the murders written in gory, bone-crunching detail and the deaths are mourned.
Why This Book?: Staff recommendation
Clare, C. (2008). City of ashes: The mortal instruments book two. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.