My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
City of Ashes is the second book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. It continues the fantastic world building that Cassie started in City of Bones. You delve further into the Shadow World and the politics of the Clave, although it still takes place solely in New York City. Some people have difficulty immersing themselves in the City of Bones because the pacing isn’t fast enough for them, but there are some good action sequences that might make this second book more appealing. I personally have not experienced that lack of engagement, but I appreciate the world building and that may cause me to approach the story from a different perspective.
As much as I loved the first book, you can see a marked improvement in Cassie’s writing even by this second book. There is a particular scene in which the setting is described so vividly that you can easily imagine the location building around you in your mind. Immersive world building is always very important to me in books, especially fantasy series, so I cannot recommend this series enough. Although it is the earliest of her writing, you cannot miss out on all of the details she provides about the world. You go on the journey with Clary as you both learn about Downworlders, the Clave, and demons.
City of Ashes further develops the relationships and connections between the characters. You can feel how much they care for one another and it’s really authentic. Although I’ve read this series before it has been a while since I delved into the series that started it all. I am being reintroduced to favourite characters and realizing just how much they’ve grown over the course of the numerous novels that Cassie has written. As I re-read interactions and laugh at witty lines, I fall in love with the characters all over again. I remember what it is that made me care for them in the first place, not just their strengths but their vulnerabilities.
There’s not much else I can say without discussing plot points or spoiling things from this or the first book, so I would just end it with – please, if you’re hesitant, give this series a chance. I would highly recommend it and in my opinion, it definitely needs to be read prior to reading Cassie’s newest series, the Dark Artifices. As incredible as the world building is in that series, it’s adding to the lore that has been built and evolved over the course of ten novels. It won’t be as impactful if you don’t have the foundational knowledge before you read the Dark Artifices.