I have recently read this book for a second time, several years after I initially read it and following a very enjoyable journey through their companion series, The Infernal Devices over the past month. At the time I first read it the movie had just been released and it’s fair to say that things have moved on quite a bit since then, with Clare having completed the series and gone on to release several companion books and another companion series and with Freeform having produced a television show focused on Clare’s world of the Shadowhunters and based on this series.
When I first read this book I didn’t have any background really on the Shadowhunter world and I was relying on this book to set it all out for me and draw me in and whilst it did that what it didn’t do was stay with me in a way that drove me to the other books. It has taken reading the Infernal Devices trilogy to bring me to a stage where I feel I’m now ready to delve into this book again and follow it on further into The Mortal Instruments series. It might be my preferred time setting of Victorian London in which The Infernal Devices was based that drew me in more and which I found more atmospheric which helped me do this. I think that having read City of Bones again I found that the New York contemporary setting made it all seem a bit too Twilight meets Anne Rice and I can understand why some readers have found this put them off.
I also believe that the book doesn’t deliver as much of an adventurous ride as some readers may have expected but this could again be because in publication order this is the very first time Clare wrote about her magical world of Shadowhunters and therefore this book has to lay out all the facets of the Nephilim and their world and introduce all the characters of Downworld and how the two interact as well as setting up the story arc that will follow through the series. This means much of the book is focused on this and so whilst we introduce lots of characters we don’t get much time to have them develop in this book but I am assured this is something that moves on immensely as the series progresses.
Having returned to the book now with a much wider awareness of the Victorian Shadowhunters, the prominent families in the Clave and a love of Warlock Magnus Bane I did gain more from this book. There were moments where I would give a little nod of understanding, for example understanding that Hodge was part of the Starkweather family and relation to Aloysius. I’m sure when I read City of Bones first time round there were moments I was thinking “What the heck is going on?” and didn’t really understand significant moments.
I am now feeling more a part of Clare’s world and have more enthusiasm for the world as a whole and feel I will now move on with the series, unlike last time where unfortunately I gave up.