City of Ashes
 (The Mortal Instruments #2)by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I almost lost track of how many times I’ve started this book and then stopped over the past few years. It feels great to have eventually come to it, with more knowledge and a fresher perspective on its predecessor and accompanying series, at last with the ability to enjoy and devour it. And devour it I did in only 2 days and I absolutely loved it.

Picking up immediately after City of Bones, the first instalment of The Mortal Instruments series, we are immediately allowed a glimpse of Valentine Morgenstein hatching his latest progression in his plans to destroy the Shadowhunters as they currently exist and twist them to his view of the world. There are some truly shocking moments in this book as the story unfolds and Valentine goes to more extreme lengths to make his plan come to fruition and some of these moments were real OMG moments where you catch your breath and feel real grief for things and people who have become familiar to you throughout both City of Bones and The Infernal Devices series. The story that was very much laid out in the first book is allowed to progress with much more vigour in this second book and moves us more speedily without the need to introduce the world we are reading about. This gives it more pace and, as a result, you fly through the chapters without even noticing how quickly you are doing so. I was astounded by how I couldn’t put this down, when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it.

I loved that this book expanded the world in which the book was based, we introduced more characters which added depth to the story and more people for us to love and care about. Not that I don’t love Jace, Clary, Alec, Isobel and Simon but having their parents join the narrative and the inquisitor to add light and shade to the story made it feel a more rounded book and gives us a sense that the world is growing and will continue to grow as the series progresses as 6 books is a LOT to focus on only the characters from City of Bones.

I also have to give Kudos to Cassandra Clare’s writing as she makes no bones about the fact that her villain Valentine is a very persuasive individual, intelligent and with strong morals who manages to enchant those around him. The scenes with him and Jace are a testament to this and as he speaks to Jace of why he is doing what he is you almost as a reader find yourself thinking that you can see his point from other events which have happened in the book. You know you shouldn’t but you do and you have to stop yourself being drawn in by him.

There are some twists and turns in this book I felt were quite surprising. Simon, our mundane best friend to Clary takes a whole new journey in this book and whilst I could see where Clare was going with this from early chapters I wasn’t so convinced by the end of the book. It would appear that she’s developed a whole new kind of hybrid downworlder to suit her purposes and I kind of wasn’t too sure about that. I am interested in it though and keen to see where she takes it in the next book as he is a brilliant character and you need him to keep Clary from becoming too wrapped up in the world of Shadowhunters and he keeps her connected to the girl she was at the beginning of Book 1.

I am now feeling invested in this series, much more than I was when I tried to read it first time round. I actually care about what happens to these characters and know that this month I hope to work through at least books 3 and 4 although if I read them as quickly as I did this then who knows where I may end up? I gave this one a 4 out of 5 stars as I do think it’s still got scope to grow as the series goes on and to give this 5 stars gives me nowhere to go as it does get better.