Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE by Cassandra Clare

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

City of Heavenly Fire was definitely my favourite book in The Mortal Instruments series. It was a great concluding novel that changed the dynamics of many relationships. It was full of suspenseful action, of ups and downs. I'm pleased with how the series ultimately ended, even though I didn't love everything that happened in this book leading up to that ending.

I'm so glad Clare wrote these last three books after the original trilogy because so much changed, and we got to know all the characters so well that I felt connected to them and invested in them in a much deeper way than I did after finishing City of Glass.

The only parts of this book that I didn't love were the scenes about Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn children. I know that Clare included those scenes to give us background for and entice us to read The Dark Artifices, but I think that was the only point. We could have done without that entire storyline and this book would have ended the same and nothing major would have changed. I also thought Emma was super whiny and acted like she was about six years old, not twelve, so I didn't really care for her character.

*The rest of my review contains spoilers for City of Heavenly Fire if you haven't read it yet.* 

The relationships in this book were so rich. After I finished this book, I realized that I finally like Jace. I didn't like him in the first couple of books because he was so arrogant, and then in City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls he wasn't himself because he was possessed. In this book, however, he was changed, and he even mentions as much to Clary. He told her that she showed him what it actually meant to love someone, and she helped him not be so guarded after being raised by Valentine. He didn't like who he was before but he likes who he is now. I really appreciated that he developed in this way because of Clary, especially after how much she has gone through for him; Clary's a loyal companion.

Related to this, I'm glad Jace decided to take on the last name Herondale. He's had an identity crisis the whole series because he grew up as a Morgenstern but was then raised as a Lightwood until he found out he was actually a Herondale. He has spent the whole series wondering who he really is, and I think his decision to now identify as Herondale shows that he finally knows who he is and that's he ready to accept the truth. Before Clary he was mostly a Lightwood, but after his transformation because of Clary, he is now a Herondale, and it really represents him turning over a new leaf of life and growing into this new person.

While I'm still on the subject of Jace and Clary, I want to talk about that they finally got intimate with each other while in the cave in the demon realm. It's been coming for five books, and I'm actually surprised it took this long to happen, but I am glad that they waited. It would have felt forced and regretful had they done it earlier because now they really know what they mean to each other instead of merely just being boyfriend and girlfriend like any other couple. I don't understand when critics say that Cassandra Clare's books have a lot of sex in them because this was the first time I read about in the seven and a half books I've read by her, and even then it was rather discreet. I think her books are actually fairly clean, which I do appreciate.

I liked everything that happened in the cave in the demon realm, and I think that whole sequence was my favourite part of the book. I can't say why specifically, but I think it's because all the relationships were changing so quickly right then. Magnus and Alec finally got back together, which I was happy about, and I think their time apart actually strengthened their bond. Isabelle and Alec were as cute as ever, and I'm glad they're still together at the end of the book, despite what happened with Simon.

That was definitely the saddest part of the whole series: when Simon was forced to lose all his memories of Clary and the shadow world. I didn't cry (I have never, not once, cried while reading a book, and I don't know why), but I was still devastated. Simon has been my favourite character from the beginning, and he's so integral to the series that I knew Clare wouldn't just cut him out like that. I had guessed that Clary would go and "accidentally" meet him at school or something, but I didn't expect her to play the card that they had known each other when they were really little. I think that gives her more credence though, and I'm glad Simon was so willing to accept everything she, Isabelle, and Magnus had to say to him about the past. What I expected to happen was that the Clave would make Simon a Shadowhunter since Consul Jia said that they needed to find mundanes to Ascend to Shadowhunters. Simon is the perfect fit, but that didn't happen in City of Heavenly Fire, so maybe we will find out in Lady Midnight if it happened. (I haven't decided yet if I'm reading The Dark Artifices, but I might read it just to check in on all the characters I love from The Mortal Instruments because I know they show up at some point.)

Another sad part of this book was at the end after Clary defeated Sebastian with the heavenly fire in her blade (I liked that she kept it a secret from everyone) and Sebastian turns into Jonathan for a little bit. Clary finally got to see her brother for who he should have been all along. I just felt so bad for Clary because that's all she ever wanted, and for Jocelyn who had to watch her son die twice. I am glad that we got to see the true Jonathan in the end, though. As sad as it was, I'm also glad that he did die instead of living on to be the real Jonathan. When Jace was stabbed with heavenly fire, he lived on because he was mostly good inside, but Sebastian was mostly evil inside so it would have been such a blatant plot hole if he would have lived on too. That small moment of Jonathan was honestly a gift.

As far as Sebastian goes, how did he get so powerful in this book? He was a mere Shadowhunter, and then he suddenly became like this super demon in this book, unable to be destroyed or even harmed. I think a common flaw in fantasy stories that we, unfortunately, see here is when the villain suddenly gains god-like powers and becomes indestructible. It was unclear to me how this happened to Sebastian, but I just ignored it for the sake of the story. I did like that the Endarkened he created were stronger than regular Shadowhunters, but still able to be defeated. I had guessed correctly that the Silent Brothers wouldn't be able to find a cure for them. It's sad to see so many "Shadowhunters" die, but real life is brutal, and I'm kind of glad there was no mercy here. Cassandra Clare really plays with our emotions, and I think that's something that makes her a good storyteller. Not everyone lives after a major battle, and I'm glad that stays true here.

Lastly, even though I didn't finish reading The Infernal Devices, I was still familiar with the main characters from that series, and I was glad to see a cameo from Tessa and Jem at the wedding. (Also so happy that Jocelyn and Luke got married finally.) I think it's really neat that Clare overlapped the two series and put clues from the other one into this one. It makes the story that much richer to see them cross over two time periods like that. I was able to recognize quite a few references to The Infernal Devices in this book, but I'm sure had I finished the series I would have found even more Easter eggs.

Overall, I am so glad I finally got around to reading The Mortal Instruments. I was pretty hesitant at first whether I would like it or not, but I did. It's not my favourite series by any means, but I still really enjoyed the journey and especially all the great characters. (The characters were definitely the best part.) The book ends on a happy note that wraps up all the details we needed to know but also leaves the story open for more information to come. At the end, we know that Lillith is still alive and out there, and she's upset about Sebastian's death. Could she be the villain in Lady Midnight since it takes place a few years later and she's had time to regain some power? That is my theory.

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