This review may contain spoilers for City of Bones and City of Ashes though I will do my best to keep it spoiler neutral. The blurb does contain spoilers for the first 2 books in the series.
To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?
Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Times bestselling series The Mortal Instruments.
Series: The Mortal Instruments #3
Genre: Low Fantasy
Length: 541 pages
City of Glass is the third installment in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series and also happens to be the one that made me a fan of hers. I found City of Bones an enjoyable enough read at the time, and City of Ashes was fine. They were easy reads and were exactly what I needed at the time, but I felt as though City of Glass brought it all together and almost went down a high fantasy route, which is always my jam. I had read that this one was due to be the last in the series but Clare ended up continuing with 3 more books, which makes a lot of sense as City of Glass feels like a natural end to this story.
You may have noticed that I skipped out on reviewing City of Ashes, which I read between this one and Raybearer. I enjoyed reading it but I really didn’t have a lot to say so decided not to bother. It was a book I’d started reading more than a year ago and picked back up over 100 pages in for an easy read to prevent slump from settling back in, and it did its job. In fact I enjoyed it enough to pick up City of Glass right after, which I almost regretted (apparently I can’t read a series in sequence right now) but ultimately, I had a great time reading, aside from a couple things which I’m not sure I want to talk about as they get into spoiler territory.
We have some dark moments in City of Glass, some actions that make me want to yell at the characters, and I did at some points (boy do Clary and Jace frustrate me), and some tropes, some of which I didn’t mind, while others grated on me a little. There are also plenty of twists and turns in this book, many I saw coming, but a few I actually did not, which was a really nice surprise. I also found the story took a while to pick up. The entire first part, actually, felt slow to me and contained situations that I wasn’t enjoying reading and was almost reading to put the book down and move on. I didn’t though, and I’m glad for it because once it picked up, I enjoyed myself a bunch.
What really stood out to me in this book were some of the side characters. I believe Magnus Bane is pretty widely beloved so it’s likely no shock that I loved his character. I felt like he was given more depth in City of Glass, more life, and he actually made me laugh out loud a few times which always helps. Plus I love me a magic user, that’s no lie. I also loved seeing Simon’s growth as a character, how mature he is about situations that in other YA romance books the guy would have flipped out and gone full angst, but Simon just doesn’t do that. He takes the punches and grows, and ends up being a great friend for Clary. We love a non-toxic relationship!
Then in the other column, we have the book’s villains. I despised Sebastian. I didn’t trust him, he was obviously evil, and hoo boy is he slimy. Then we have Valentine, who genuinely seems to believe his delusion that he is doing the right thing somehow, when what he’s really working towards is genocide and his own personal glory. He’s frustrating. And this is a good thing, in my eyes! Yes I love a lovable villain, but villains you can really hate and root against? They are well written villains, simple as.
Finally, I want to talk about the writing. Honestly, when I first started reading the series I wasn’t sure. The writing style was good enough to pull me in but with all of the clichés and stupid actions from the characters, I was concerned that the Mortal Instruments books were yet another example of teen paranormal romance pushed out to hit an audience rather than because they’re actually any good. I have read my fair share. Yet here I am praising book three, so to past me: you were wrong. Clare’s writing style is actually really interesting. It’s simple enough to immerse you and be enjoyable to follow, even if you’re struggling with focus and such like I do, and yet she has these moments in her prose where she paints a beautiful image with her words, very reminiscent of Clary and her mother’s artistry. It’s pretty clever, frankly.
The book also utilises multiple points-of-view which ordinarily I despise. I find most books do not gain anything from using a different character’s perspective, all it does is give me narrative whiplash and make me feel frustrated. Yet in Mortal Instruments, I enjoyed them. Each POV added something to the story without feeling needless. Moments that we would never have seen, making later moments in the story pack a much harder punch. And yes, a break from Clary’s stressing was honestly refreshing.
And the ending of the book. Wow. It does not rush itself, rather, it takes its time, making sure to wrap up each loose thread and build up such a rise in tension that when the story comes to the climax, it feels so satisfying. It actually feels epic.
So those are my thoughts on City of Glass by Cassandra Clare. In conclusion, I really enjoyed this book. It’s not perfect (what book could claim to be anyway?) and certainly not for everybody, but if you don’t mind a little teenage angst and some trash Nephilim just trying to do right in the world, you might enjoy it too. Now I’m going to give the series a small break so I don’t burn out but I do have books 4 and 6, so at some point I’ll absolutely get into those, and probably the other series in the same world as well.
You can read my review for City of Ashes here.
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