City of Ashes
by Cassandra Clare
This second book of the Mortal Instruments trilogy blends teen romance, fantasy, horror, action, suspense, and mystery in one piquant cocktail. It enfolds us in a world populated by angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, fairies, warlocks, and the secret society of Shadowhunters who police them. It touches on the nature of family, the thin line between friendship and romantic love, the pain of injustice, the clash of good and evil, the quest for power for its own sake, and the discovery of unlooked-for powers in a couple of confused young heroes. And it's just plain fun to read.
Clary has just found out that Jace is her brother - which complicates the fact that they are deeply in lust with each other. This dilemma sends ripples into their other relationships. Fellow Shadowhunter Alec, for instance, would rather die than reveal his gay crush on his best friend and foster brother. Meanwhile, Clary's "mundane" best friend Simon wants to be her boyfriend, and competing with Jace may cost him his soul.
As Clary and Luke, her werewolf surrogate-father, wait for Clary's mother to wake up from a mysterious coma, a vindictive Inquisitor from the Shadowhunter Clave rolls into town and puts the screws to Jace. Somehow this Inquistor can't believe Jace isn't in league with his evil father. Speaking of whom, Valentine Morgenstern continues to unfold his evil plan to destroy the Clave and forge a new order from its ashes. A string of grisly murders targeting members of the Downworlder community (fairies, vampires, and werewolves) has something to do with this, as does the theft of a sword of power handed down to the Clave by an angel.
It turns out that Valentine is gathering an army of demons to serve him in his rebellion. This is topping it pretty high, for a guy whose problem with the Clave is that it doesn't take a hard enough line against the spawn of hell! The line between good guys and bad guys will be seriously tested in the ensuing battle, along with bonds of love and friendship. Jace, Clary, and Simon will all come into unique powers. And a brooding fate will linger at the end, drawing them and those around them into the final installment, City of Glass.
Teens who are up for an exciting read, and who enjoy the Twilight series' blend of spookiness and romance, will be especially rewarded by this cleverly paced, brilliantly creative series and especially its heroine, who hardly understands the effect she has on those around her. Perhaps you, too, will fall in love with her!
St. Louis, USA
Recommended Age: 14+
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