The Mortal Instruments Series
Book Six – City of Heavenly Fire Review
City of Heavenly Fire: The Mortal Instruments, Book Six
Written by: Cassandra Clare
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Let’s say you find yourself at the helm of a commercial success – in this case, oh, Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. Besides suddenly discovering you are Cassandra Clare (unless you were already), you will realize that this commercial success has brought you a movie adaptation, writing vacations in the French countryside, and many more storytelling opportunities. You might also be interested in the following list of DOs and DONTs.
DO write your characters with integrity.
DON’T sacrifice story to shill to your fans.
DO spend more time finishing your current series than setting up the next.
DON’T write like your ticking items off a list.
If you’re interested to know whether Ms. Clare followed this list for the last installment in The Mortal Instruments series, I am here with a book hangover to tell you that she did not. There was a landing, and she did not stick it. She did, in fact, miss it by a country mile.
City of Heavenly Fire opens with a completely new set of characters in the L.A. Institute, which we have never seen before, but seems to be strutting the stage and waving to TV and movie producers that it is camera-ready. While the events that unfold there are as compulsively readable as any of Clare’s stories, they leave you closing the book to check that you did, in fact, pick up the last book in The Mortal Instruments series and not the first book in The Dark Artifices or Devious Artifacts or whatever series.
After horrors committed by big bad Sebastian unfold, we finally get back to our main team of Jace, Clary, and their Lightwoods + Simon posse to discover all Institutes have been evacuated and that essentially all Shadowhunters are behind the wards of Alicante. Predictably, this turns out to be a bad move because they’ve already seen battle in their supposedly impregnable capital city. From this poor decision onward, there is a blur of death and betrayal and shocking battles and wandering around demon realms just introduced in this book. And faeries being all coldly dubious, naturally. Also major character loss that is invalidated about twenty pages later. It’s a mess.
The only redeeming features are the introduction of new protagonist Emma and that the Magnus/Alec relationship finally gets some on-page chemistry. Unfortunately, these are also aggravating – Magnus’ touching gesture toward Alec is a subtle commercial for The Bane Chronicles, and all of the many, many Emma & co. diversions are blatant neon signs saying READ MY NEXT SERIES. And there’s the Tess cameo, which is also awesome, and also aggravating, although less so because everyone should read The Infernal Devices trilogy– it’s just like The Mortal Instruments except Clare seems to have learned from all her mistakes and does everything right. Also, it’s a *complete* trilogy.
The Mortal Instruments does not bear out whatever promise it might have had in the first place, and goes on two books longer than it should have.
But it is a necessary keystone in the edifice of the great The Infernal Devices and the promising new series set in L.A. If you’ve read the The Mortal Instruments this far, you’re gonna read this one – but I would encourage you to hold out for the paperback.
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City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments Book 6)