Happy Wednesday! As I announced last week, I thought writing some “retro” book reviews would be a fun summer goal for keeping the blog going. Last week, I did a re-read of Dark Visions by L.J. Smith (review here). This week, I’m reviewing Tithe by one of my new favorites, Holly Black.
Tithe is the first book in Black’s Modern Faerie Tales trilogy, originally published back in 2002 (which is very nearly 20 years ago? oh my…). Recently, the Modern Faerie Tales have been reissued with some gorgeous new covers. I would have been in middle school when Tithe first came out, but for whatever reason, Holly Black was not on my radar back then. The first book of hers I read was The Cruel Prince, and after that, I was hooked on her beautiful, brutal faery world and its characters.
Tithe is also excellent, although not for the faint of heart, I suppose. It’s a fairly dark, gritty urban fantasy, and, although it is a YA series, the Modern Faerie Tales deal with some pretty heavy issues. Black’s spin on the world of the fae is equal parts beautiful and cruel, pleasurable and painful. Its teen MCs are imperfect, its parents range from being selfish to downright neglectful, and no one is safe from the capricious, deadly fae.
At the beginning of Tithe, Kaye Fierch is on the road with her mother, a musician who survives paycheck to paycheck, and gig to gig. But a nearly fatal clash with one of her mother’s bandmates sends them packing for Kaye’s grandmother’s house in New Jersey. Kaye hasn’t been to school in years and, despite her grandmother’s insistence, isn’t about to go back now. She smokes, stays out too late, and is generally a bit aimless. In New Jersey, she reconnects with an old friend, Janet, and Janet’s loner brother, Cornelius (Corny) Stone.
Their New Jersey is one of abandoned warehouses, dark alleyways, and underground raves. But it’s also a world many of the solitary fae – faeries who have been exiled from the Seelie or Unseelie courts – call home. Kaye remembers some imaginary friends she made as a kid. In Tithe, those once imaginary friends turn out to be all too real and know the truth about who Kaye really is. Kaye’s journey is one of self-discovery, of survival as the human and fae worlds collide. And of new love in the form of white-haired Roiben, a Seelie knight who has been traded to serve the Unseelie queen as a show of peace between the two courts.
I am giving Tithe five stars. I love to read (and write) imperfect characters, and Kaye certainly fits the bill. I think some readers, and some perhaps concerned with what teens are reading, balk a bit when the character isn’t some sort of role model. But I don’t believe all characters, even those in YA books, are obligated to be role models. In fact, there are likely many teens out there who may relate to Kaye, a girl from a poor family, with a somewhat neglectful parent and a poor track record at school. Those teens have stories, too. And those teens need to see characters like Kaye who are overcoming odds and discovering their own strengths.
Also, Roiben sounds hot. So there’s that.
If you’re a fan of the fae, urban fantasy, and don’t mind it with a large helping of romantic horror, I recommend Tithe! In the coming weeks, I will also be reviewing the second two books, Valiant and Ironside. I am officially hooked on Holly Black!
Context: I’ve decided to write some “retro” book reviews this summer. I’m defining retro as any book originally published more than 15 years ago. For all you L.J. Smith fans who may or may not be out there, today I’m reviewing a classic: Dark Visions.
I was originally introduced to L.J. Smith in middle school, when my friend handed me The Forbidden Game and said, “I think you’ll like this. Julian is hot.” LOL. Every few years, the nostalgia hits me, and I re-read TFG or Dark Visions, mostly because they’re my favorites, but also because I own them.
I’m not saying Dark Visions is perfect or anything. It was an older book even when I read it for the first time (it’s nearly as old as me). Although I do like L.J. Smith’s writing style, I can’t lie that the characters in Dark Visions sound like something out of a 1950s movie. Honestly, some of it has not aged well. But it’s still one of my favorite comfort reads.
Dark Visions is a trilogy (the three books are often found together now in an omnibus edition) following Kaitlyn Fairchild, a teen artist whose drawings are often prophetic. Because of her spooky powers, she feels out of place in her small town and is sort of viewed as the town “witch.” Then, destiny comes knocking when she’s recruited to an institute for psychics in San Francisco, where she joins four other teen psychics (Rob, Gabriel, Anna, and Lewis) to learn to hone her abilities. It becomes quickly apparent, though, that nothing is as it initially seems at the institute, and its enigmatic leader, Mr. Zetes, has recruited them for more nefarious purposes.
The first book in the trilogy focuses on Kait’s time at the institute and getting to know the other psychics. For the first time, she feels like she has real friends, and even falls in love for the first time, with psychic healer Rob. Unfortunately, she – and basically everybody, lol – butts heads with Gabriel, the bad boy of the bunch who may or may not have murdered someone.
Okay, maybe I just like these books because of Gabriel? L.J. Smith has always done misunderstood, broody antihero very well. Her books also tend to feature a central love triangle, between the main heroine, a well-liked golden boy (who is not without his own flaws), and a Broody McBroodypants. In Dark Visions, we of course have the Rob-Kait-Gabriel love triangle, with both guys appealing to different sides of Kait. I had sort of forgotten this until I re-read it (and this may be a bit of a spoiler, but these books are 30-years-old…), but it does come with the lesson that your first love won’t necessarily be your last, or only, love – and that you can love people in different ways. Which, duh…but still, I think it’s a nice lesson to impart, especially for teen readers. When you’re young, breaking up with someone can feel like the end of the world, but it’s definitely not. I promise you, you will love again, lol.
Part of the reason that Dark Visions (and L.J. Smith’s other books) might be so memorable/important to me, is because – back at the time I first read them – YA was not nearly the behemoth genre it is now. The YA section of our local library was several shelves against a wall crammed with delightfully pulp-y paperbacks. It was right before YA started to get really big in the mid- to late-2000s. Back then, I also read a lot of V.C. Andrews, which probably could be considered YA by today’s standards (perhaps except for all the, uh, incest…), it just wasn’t marketed as such at the time. I think it’s great there are so many options and subgenres of YA now. So many choices for teens! And for older millennials like me who read/write YA. Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent, but I think much of the reason L.J. Smith’s books will always hold a special place in my heart.
I just got some of Holly Black’s older books from the library (curbside pickup has been my best friend during the pandemic), so I think doing these types of retro reviews will be one of my summer projects. For now, happy Friday eve – and happy reading!
Before getting into tonight’s review, I made a small change to the format of this blog. Now when you go to the home page–instead of my blog post feed–you will be taken to a static page where I will post general updates about what I’m working on, followed by a list of my current books and links if you want to grab a copy. Right now the update is very vague and general since I’m working that out, lol, but it will become more detailed as I figure that out.
A list of recent blog posts is available on the right hand menu.
I decided to do this as a quicker and more general way of keeping readers and those who may stumble upon this blog up-to-date with what I’m working on. I don’t really blog as much as I used to, nor do I usually have the time and/or desire to blog that much, haha. February is an exception because I released a novella and then Reclaim, but I’m going to try to keep update posts to once every month, or even every two months. Until I’m well underway with a project, there’s usually not that much to say, and I end up repeating myself a lot.
With that said, onto my review of Feversong, the final installment of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series (at least as we know it!).
I thoroughly enjoyed this conclusion to KMM’s Fever series, although I’m super bummed this is the end for Barrons and Mac’s story, at least, it seems, for now. I believe Ms. Moning is planning additional books set in the fever world, only centered around other characters, so I’m interested to see where that goes.
Honestly, I was nervous at the beginning of the book that I wouldn’t like it. At the end of Feverborn, to save herself and Jada/Dani, Mac basically opens her inner Sinsar Dubh…and sure, it gets them out, but it also turns Mac into a psychopath, haha. The parts written from Mac/the Sinsar Dubh’s perspective got old for me, fast, but luckily it’s only the first quarter of the book or so. And she does some REALLY horrible things while she’s possessed. I mean, dear God, lol.
But I loved the rest of the book, and I felt like everything that happened after that was a natural extension of Mac’s story. Also, and I may be in the minority here, but I really like Dani, and I liked seeing her become her old self more and more as the book went on. And I LOVE her and Dancer and get a little annoyed when KMM seems to be trying to appease the Dani/Ryodan shippers while also giving Dani and Dancer the time together they deserve.
I also enjoyed the flashbacks to Dani’s time in the Silvers with Shazam. (I love Shazam.) We get to find out more about him, too.
All in all, KMM brought this second part of the Fever series to a satisfying and admirable close, while still leaving the reader with a bit of a sense of mystery, particularly around the destinies of Barrons and Mac. (If you’re curious or confused, she did write a blog post about this. It’s on her Facebook page, but don’t read it until you finish this book because there are spoilers. But it might clear up any confusion you may have.)
There was also a scene in Feversong that made me cry. 😦 Overall, well done, Ms. Moning!
Last night, I stayed up until two in the morning reading Feverborn, the latest installment of Karen Marie Moning’s bestselling Fever series. In typical Moning fashion, she really blew me away in the last 150 pages or so of the book, and I couldn’t put it down. That being said, I had some issues with the first part of the book. But I’ll get to those in a second.
I would say the “big picture” plot point in Feverborn, and this phase of the series in general, is repairing the damage that has been done to Earth since the walls came down. Small black holes (that are only getting bigger) have cropped up all over Dublin–including the one steadily growing towards the abbey–and the squad (Mac, Jada, Barrons, Ryodan, Christian, and Dancer) have figured out the reason and a theoretical remedy. So, part of Feverborn are these very different characters, with strong, and at many times clashing personalities, forming an unlikely alliance to save Earth. This is complicated by the fact that many outside characters and groups want one or the other of them dead for various reasons.
There are a few other interesting subplots interspersed throughout the book as well. We find out what happened to Dageus after Burned and a near-fatal mission to rescue his nephew, druid-turned-Unseelie prince Christian, who was being tortured by the creepy Crimson Hag. Mac’s past also comes back to haunt her, in more ways than one. We even get a few insights into what Cruce, the Unseelie prince trapped underneath the abbey, has been up to, and he’s starting to reemerge as the “big bad.”
That all being said, what Feverborn is really about is Mac and ice-cold Jada, formerly Mac’s energetic, impulsive bff, Dani. This was my favorite part of the book. Through Jada’s impersonal third-person narration, we learn bits and pieces of what happened to her while she was in the Silvers, and–although she never divulges everything–it’s enough to paint the bleak, heartbreaking picture. I actually have to say that, this time around, I enjoyed Jada’s plot thread considerably more than Mac’s. And I love how Moning has challenged their friendship, and the healing process for both of them that starts to take place in Feverborn.
I have to admit, though–and I hate saying this about one of my favorite authors–that the first half of the book was a bit of a mess. I felt like the book didn’t know what it itself was really about (Mac and Jada) until about the halfway point, maybe even further along. Moning often switches between points of view within books, and I usually admire her ability to do so effortlessly and convincingly. I never question whose head I’m in, and each plot thread typically stands well on its own while still advancing the overall plot.
But this style didn’t work for me as much in Feverborn. I have to agree with other reviews I’ve read saying that Mac’s part is basically a rehash of her old problems–issues I thought had been wrapped up by the end of Shadowfever. Also, the strain Moning placed on her and Barrons’s relationship in Burned seems to have completely evaporated now, and they’ve reverted to slamming their walls back up whenever they’re not having insanely hot sex (really, if Barrons can’t just call her Mac all the time at this point instead of Ms. Lane, fts). It’s like all of the progress they’ve made in their relationship throughout the course of the series has been unraveled for no reason.
Further, there are some random chapters written from Christian and Lor’s POVs for seemingly no reason. Okay, Christian’s sort of had a point (although it’s not carried throughout FB like in past books), but Lor’s didn’t give any significant insight into his or Jo’s characters and didn’t advance the plot. I guess it was sort of amusing, but it really should have served some other function than comic relief. I did, however, enjoy the parts with Cruce and Papa Roach, and I really hope Cruce is coming back as the major evil player in the next book (which I think is supposed to be the final, final book?).
By the way, I hate that I have to write this. As a writer myself, I know that criticism can be a good thing and very helpful, but I hate sounding overly critical or mean about a series and author that I love. I still think Karen is an excellent writer. I love the language she uses, the settings she creates–I can picture everything vividly in my mind, and I’m still highly invested in all of the characters. It’s just this book felt like a lot of filler material before the next book. (A lot of readers said that about Burned as well, although it didn’t feel that way to me for some reason. But this book did.)
The last fourth of the book really saved it for me, though. I wish the entire book had just focused on Mac and Jada and their friendship, because those parts were really touching. There are enough mysteries planted throughout FB that keep you hooked and plenty of twists and surprises–toward the end, they just kept coming. The battle at the abbey sort of works as a climax for the good guys/bad guys conflict in the book, but I think the real climax happens right after that, when you find out why Jada goes running back into the burning abbey. It just shows so much about what she must have went through in the Silvers and the person she has become now. Those parts actually brought tears to my eyes, they were so heartbreaking. I’m still intrigued to see where Moning is going with all of this and how she’ll tie up the loose ends she left at the end of FB.
So, in summary, while I felt like Feverborn had trouble finding its footing, the last part of the book saved it for me, and that’s why I’m giving it four stars. I will still probably pre-order the next book and binge read it when it comes.
There have only been a few authors in my life that have left me almost not able to function until their next book comes out. That I read it as soon as I get my hands on it. In high school and part of college, that author was J.K. Rowling. Now, in my adult life, I have Karen Marie Moning.
It was actually my mom who discovered the Fever series seven or so years ago. I think back then there were already three or four books out, so I didn’t have long to wait until the next installment. (Now, the wait is longer, harder, but still totally worth it.) I was immediately sucked in to the seedy underbelly of Ms. Moning’s Dublin, where the Unseelie lurk and dark forces are at work to bring the walls between our world and the Fae’s down. I crushed on Jericho Barrons, a sexy, enigmatic antihero equal parts elegant and wild. And I loved the fever world’s kick ass heroine, MacKayla (Mac) Lane, who, over the series, transforms from a blonde, pink Southern girl without a care in the world to a fierce Unseelie fighter and a protector of Dublin, the city she’s grown to love even though it took her twin sister, Alina.
The first five Fever books are primarily from Mac’s point-of-view. Fans of the series know that the last book, Iced, was Dani “Mega” O’Malley’s time to shine, with some insight into Christian MacKeltar’s life as he made the agonizing transformation from sexy, Highlander druid to insatiable Unseelie Prince, as well as Kat’s POV and life with the sidhe-seers at the abbey. I feel like not too many people were thrilled with a book that was told mostly from Dani’s POV, and, although perhaps not my favorite in the series–I think that honor still goes to Shadowfever–I enjoyed Iced, and Dani’s story was definitely one that needed to be told.
In Burned, “Mac is back,” as it quotes on the front cover–and I think Ms. Moning’s got her groove back. The book was fun, sexy, packed with action and suspense, and I couldn’t put it down. Well, somehow I managed to for a few hours to get some shut-eye, but this morning I was right back reading, and I finished it within the day. Like I said, not many books have sucked me in quite like the Fever and Highlander series have. I devoured it, and when it was over I was in some sort of book haze/coma, wanting more but knowing that more probably won’t come for another year, maybe longer.
I’m not sure what to even say about this book–like Shadowfever, there are so many twists in it–and so many inklings of things to come–I’m not sure I can talk about it without accidentally giving something away. I can say, though, that it centers mostly around Mac and Dani’s relationship, which–if you’ve read the series–you know was tried when Mac found out Dani, of all people, was the one who killed her dear twin sister, Alina. (You find out even more about the circumstances surrounding this in Burned.) Mac and Jericho’s relationship, which was sort of wrapped up nicely enough at the end of Shadowfever (I will always remember the quote, “I will always be priya for this man.”), is also tested in this latest installment.
Although most of the story is told from Mac’s POV, we get glimpses of Barrons at the very beginning, the Unseelie king, Christian as he’s being tortured by the Crimson Hag, Kat as she struggles to maintain leadership of the sidhe-seers at the abbey, and even Lor. (I have to admit, out of all the POVs, I think I enjoyed Lor’s the least, although I guess he was kind of amusing. I just didn’t find it very convincing–it was a little too much for me, although he and his budding love interest were sort of cute towards the end.) We also get glimpses of a new, ultra kick ass assassin, Jada–who, even though her dialogue is reminiscent of Seven of Nine’s in Star Trek: Voyager (everything is inefficient), she turns out to be oh so important. The transitions between the first (and third) person POVs works well for the book and, even though Ms. Moning conveniently labels each chapter with the character’s name, the styles are different enough that I think you’d be able to tell them apart, anyway–something I hope I can master.
There are also some very old friends in this book–namely, twins Drustan and Dageus MacKeltar from the Highlander series. They’re pivotal to the mission to save Christian from the clutches of the Crimson Hag. New troubles are also brewing in post-apocalyptic Dublin–problems even the Unseelie king may not be able to fix (and it’s questionable whether he even wants to). Although some issues leftover from Iced are resolved, and Mac comes to term with some demons from her past, there are still lots of loose ends at the end of Burned and a slight cliffhanger, which will leave you yearning for the next book.
This book got me right in the feels, and I know I won’t be able to shake it all week. I even called my mom to fangirl about it…which, in retrospect, was kind of mean because she won’t read it until I bring my copy home with me, lol. If you’re a fellow Moning Maniac, I know you will love Burned. If you haven’t read the Fever series–do it. Immediately. And the Highlander series, too–or at least the Immortal Highlander.
Clockwork Angel is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy. I love Ms. Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series (City of Heavenly Fire is sitting on my bookcase, waiting patiently for me to read it…but it looks sort of daunting…), and it took me awhile to get around to starting The Infernal Devices…but I am oh so glad I did. For me, it was a five-star read. In my opinion, the back cover book summary does not do this book justice. It makes it sound like it’s only about a love triangle–which, for better or for worse, there is a love triangle in this book. That device has sort of exploded along with YA lit in recent years. But anyway, there is so much more going on in this book than that, and I fell in love with all of the characters.
Our heroine, Teresa (Tessa) Gray, comes over to London from the States when she gets a note from her brother, Nathaniel, who moved there for work. Unfortunately, in London she falls into the clutches of the Dark Sisters. They force her to practice her unique ability–with the touch of a personal item, Tessa can shape shift into the person it belongs to–a power she didn’t even know she had until now. If she doesn’t do as the Dark Sisters say, they threaten to hurt Nate. Things are looking pretty grim when they inform Tessa that she is ready to marry the mysterious, powerful Magister. Thankfully, a group of Shadowhunters break into the Dark House and rescue Tessa on what would probably have been her wedding day.
Tessa becomes a guest at the London Institute, run by Charlotte and Henry Branwell and home to three orphans: Jessamine Lovelace, James (Jem) Carstairs, and Will Herondale. She learns about the Nephilim, the world of the Shadowhunters, and the Downworld of vampires, werewolves, faeries and warlocks–the world she herself is a part of. Much of the book is Tessa learning to accept this knowledge, and to accept herself and her ability. There’s also a lot of great action, suspense, and yes, romantic tension, as well as an unexpected twist toward the end.
I loved all of the characters in this book. Cassandra Clare does a magnificent job of weaving together the world of the Shadowhunters with Victorian England. Charlotte, who is truly in charge at the Institute, struggles to make her voice and opinion heard at the Enclave meetings mostly dominated by men. Henry, on the other hand, is too busy tinkering with inventions to run much of anything. I loved Henry–he was the eccentric scientist/inventor whose inventions never quite worked the way they were supposed to. These two worlds also conflict in the character of Jessamine. She’s an aspiring proper Victorian lady who claims to reject her calling as a Shadowhunter, but she’s kind of a bad ass when duty calls. Her parasol turns into a weapon (that was a nice touch).
And then there’s Will and Jem–parabatai, like Jace and Alec are in TMI. There’s a bit of mystery surrounding each of them; both seem to harbor dark secrets, especially Will. Tessa finds herself drawn to each of them, of course. Jem is kind and brave, but unfortunately suffers from a mystery illness that makes it difficult for him to fight. And Will…..well, Will is the gorgeous, dark-haired, arrogant, sarcastic, broody one who lashes out at people because he’s compensating for his inner turmoil/vulnerability–so, naturally, he’s my favorite. Sorry not sorry. You get to find out Jem’s secret in Clockwork Angel, but Will’s past and why he’s so broody and angry is still shrouded in mystery at the end of the book, which was REALLY frustrating, and made me want to read the next two immediately, except I don’t have them yet. I mean…Will’s not the only reason I want to keep reading, but I won’t pretend like he’s not one of the reasons. Oh, Cassandra Clare, why must you do this to me?
Clockwork Angel also had an awesome ending. Besides the twist, Tessa learns to at least partly accept her unique ability and uses it in a really incredible way. I much prefer when the main character outwits his or her opponent rather than killing them or something. I mean, if the villain was dead after the first book, it probably wouldn’t have been a trilogy, but I just think it makes for a more creative resolution. Tessa is a strong female lead, and I’m excited to see how she grows in the series.
Last but not least, I’m so glad Magnus Bane is immortal, so that he can be in ALL of Cassandra Clare’s books. He was only around a little bit in this book, but the ending hints that he might have a bigger presence in Clockwork Prince. I hope. He better.
I’ve totally been putting off writing this review. Mostly because, after thoroughly enjoying City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels…well, it kind of sucked. So I’m not even sure I’ll have much to say about it, but here we go anyway:
This review is spoiler-free, but if you haven’t read the first three books in Cassandra Clare’s TheMortal Instruments series yet, do NOT read this review. Instead, check out my past reviews here.
You can find City of Fallen Angels on Amazon here.
The Amazon book description:
“The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.”
Now, it’s not that CoFA has absolutely nothing going for it. Clare introduces some fun new characters, including a pretty sinister villain. And I can understand her reasons for writing this book. What comes after happily-ever-after isn’t always very happy, especially considering the loose ends she left in Glass. In theory, I like this idea of being realistic when it comes to what happens after the big battle has been won, but I’d say the execution was poor. I’m not going to tell you not to read it. If you’re like me and you’ve read and enjoyed the first three, your OCD will compel you to finish out the series, no matter what. And I’ve heard that Book 5, City of Lost Souls, is pretty good. (I believe there’s also a Book 6 coming out at some point.)
To be honest, CoFA was really just depressing, and many of the characters I’ve come to love, to really be invested in, started to annoy me. Now, when you’re reading YA, you have to expect some teenage angst. That’s fine. But seriously, CoFA chronicles several characters “emo”-phases and had so much angst I could barely get through it. I expect it from Alec; he’s always been the most brooding character anyway. Even Jace can be pretty moody, but Clare just takes it to a whole new level in this book. In addition, Simon goes all emo on us as well.
The thing is: Jace and Simon both have understandable reasons for acting this way. Simon has to contend with his secret life as a vampire and how is mother will react to it as well as the after-effects of the Mark of Cain. The only father Jace feels like he ever knew has died, leaving him with some very confusing thoughts over where he comes from and who he really is most like: the Lightwoods, his real father Herondale, or Valentine Morgenstern. But it was really hard to get through the pages and pages of Simon and Jace whining, whining, whining. It was just too much. I was like, someone has to remind them that there are children starving in the world and to get over themselves.
Magnus and Alec also go through some stuff, but for some reason this plotline annoyed me a lot less. Although I think it’s a little age inappropriate -not for people my age reading the book, of course, but for the series’ intended YA audience. I think it’s great that Clare includes a bisexual and a gay character, but Mangus having pretty much slept with everyone ever is a little much in my opinion. It totally makes sense because he’s a gazillion years old or whatever, but I just don’t think that’s really age appropriate. Also, Alec and Magnus probably should have had this discussion a while ago, haha. Nevertheless, Alec’s reaction was very justified, and it’s what the reader expects from him, anyway: He gets defensive, angry, and shuts himself off.
And you know what? That’s pretty much all I can remember from this book. It really didn’t have much of an impact on me. Clary is in the book, but to be honest, I can’t even tell you what she did besides starting her training as a Shadowhunter and worrying about Jace. Her character takes a backseat in CoFA. Instead we’re treated to Simon and Jace feeling sorry for themselves. (By the way, I love Simon. I just don’t like the turn his character took in this book.)
As a final thought: I didn’t like the very end of the book, either, and not because it’s a cliffhanger; I am totally okay with those. But it didn’t really feel like a cliffhanger. It felt Clare got bored writing or something and just decided to end it there; it felt like the book just wasn’t done. It’s very much a transition book in that way; an awkward in-between book trying to take us into the next phase. Like I said: I’m not going to tell you not to read it. I’m just going to say you may be disappointed. I really hope City of Lost Souls redeems this series for me.
I am so excited to talk about City of Glass. It has definitely been my favorite of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series so far. (And I’ve already read City of Fallen Angels…which I didn’t like as much as the first three books. But more about that next week.) I’m also SUPER excited for the City of Bones movie to come out this Wednesday, August 21. (I even have this marked down in my planner, lol. Like I would forget.)
This review is spoiler-free, but if you haven’t read City of Bones or City of Ashes yet, do NOT read this review. Instead, check out my reviews of Books 1 and 2 here.
“To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters—never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
“As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City—whatever the cost?
“Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of bestselling series the Mortal Instruments.”
As you would expect, Glass picks up where Ashes left us hanging: Clary is supposed to travel to Idris (The Glass City) with an old friend of her mother’s who can find the man who gave Jocelyn (Fairchild) Fray the spell that has left her in a coma-like state throughout most of these first three books. Unbeknownst to Clary, Jace and the others are planning to leave for Idris without her, Jace believing it’s too risky for her to go. But what kind of book would Glass be if all of the main characters didn’t get to go to Idris? So, at the end of the day, everyone ends up there whether they were supposed to go or not -even Simon, our loveable nerd-turned-vampire who can walk around in sunlight. Unlike the first two books, which give us glimpses of the Shadowhunter’s world interspersed in present day New York City, most of Glass takes place in Idris, a fictional place I would definitely love to live in. In Bones and Ashes, Valentine procured two of the mortal instruments -the cup and the sword -all he needs in Glass is the mirror to summon the angel Raziel (whose blood created the Shadowhunter race) to do his bidding.
Now, instead of giving you a detailed scene-by-scene plot summary, I’m just going to tell you what I loved about Glass -and a few things I didn’t. In all of the books I’ve enjoyed Ms. Clare’s plot twists and turns -I love it when hints are sprinkled throughout the book leading up to a big reveal, something I try to do in my own writing. For instance, there’s a bit of a creative spin on the mirror, which I really liked. And of course, we’ve been getting a lot of hints about Clary and Jace, and we find out more about this in Glass. So, if you’re worried or simply wondering, this is the book where you will find out.
I’ve also enjoyed watching Simon grow throughout the books. Although I’ve become invested in all of Ms. Clare’s characters, Simon is definitely one of my favorites and one of the most interesting to follow. He started out as merely Clary’s nerdy best friend -the only human in her new group of supernatural friends, and someone who has never been very sure of himself. I was really upset at first when he turned, actually, because I liked that he was the “token” human. But, as not only a vampire but a Daylighter, Simon is starting to come into his own, and I really like that. He’s physically stronger and has that “vampire mojo,” but he’s also growing as a person as he’s had to struggle and come to terms with being a vampire. And yet throughout the whole ordeal he’s still a good friend to Clary, still loves her, and is still funny. He definitely has a lot to deal with in Glass and in City of Fallen Angels afterwards, but he’s becoming a stronger person.
I also like how Clary is a different kind of strong character. In contrast to Isabelle Lightwood, who knows she’s beautiful and is a powerful and skilled Shadowhunter, like Simon Clary is also growing into herself in these books. She’s not a trained Shadowhunter so she’s not physically strong, but her special gift is drawing runes -ancient runes, runes not found in the Gray Book -and this skill becomes vitally important in Glass. Clary might not be able to literally kick ass (yet), but she is able to unite Shadowhunters and Downworlders in the fight against Valentine.
Which brings me to something I wasn’t a big fan of in this book: The ending. If you’ve read it: Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I would have wanted…ugh, it’s so hard to talk about this without spoiling the book. So all I will say is…the ending for me was pretty much deus ex machina. You have to admit, it was kind of cheating. Throughout the entire book, she’s building up to this big battle -the characters are arming themselves and preparing for the battle -and then what happened, happens. And Clary makes a request at the end that is pretty much completely selfish. Not that I would have wanted it the other way, either -that would just have made for a horribly depressing book -but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a selfish choice. There were a lot of other things she could have asked for, even that could have helped out her other friends, like Simon. So, even though I loved the characters, and the action, and the other revelations in this book, I did not care for the ending.
One other new character Ms. Clare introduces that I should probably mention is Sebastian. When they get to Idris, the Lightwoods stay with another Shadowhunter family whose last name I can’t really think of right now, and their cousin Sebastian is also visiting. With his longish dark hair and beautiful face, Sebastian resembles a dark prince Clary used to draw. You start to see that Sebastian is definitely that dark, bad boy type…but he’s not someone, at least for me, that ends up becoming appealing (because you know how I usually like my fictional bad boys). I think it’s because he’s too sinister and really has no redeeming qualities, which is the point, and I like that. A true antihero has at least some glimmer of goodness, or puts up walls so he doesn’t have to connect with people emotionally (when on the inside he’s vulnerable and all that mooshy stuff). Sebastian might sound hot, but he is pretty sadistic. So Jace and Alec can retain their status as the brooding “bad” boys of the Shadowhunter world.
Finally -as I will end all of my TMI reviews -Magnus Bane was in this book. And he was still awesome.
What did you think of City of Glass? What did you think of the ending? Please share in the comments below!
I actually read this second installment in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series over vacation a few weeks ago, and over this past weekend I read City of Glass…so hopefully I won’t mix them up in this review…
Also, as you know I’ve been posting sort of sporadically this summer, but I’ve also gotten pretty bad at checking in with my fellow bloggers. I love it when you visit The Urge to Write, and I love visiting your blogs as well, so I promise I will be by soon. 🙂
And now, on to the review! I am trying to keep these reviews as spoiler-free as possible, but if there’s just absolutely something I need to say that is a spoiler, I will warn you! (Although, if you haven’t read City of Bones yet, I would not continue reading this. Instead, check out my review of City of Boneshere.) Please let me know what you thought of City of Ashes (CoA) in the comments – I would LOVE to discuss this series with you!
“Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go—especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil—and also her father.
“To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings—and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?
“In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.”
In these first three books of The Mortal Instruments, we’re basically following Cassandra Clare’s charming villain Valentine Morgenstern as he seeks to collect all three of these legendary objects. In City of Bones Clary et al. (I’ve been reading too many journal articles) try to stop Valentine from getting the Mortal Cup. In City of Ashes, it’s the Soul-Sword. (The last will be the mirror.) As Amazon’s summary explains, someone is murdering Downworlder children, and although Clary and her friends are pretty convinced it’s Valentine, some of the adult Shadowhunters are less certain. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled at first with the whole Downworlder murder mystery thing. I just feel this type of plotline is starting to get played out. I personally don’t read a lot of murder mysteries, and now it seems like this type of plotline is leaking into a lot of fantasy books. I’ve loved this combination in other series (Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series starts out that way), but then I noticed True Blood’s first season started out that way (I haven’t gotten around to reading the Sookie Stackhouse books yet)…and now this book. But when I actually saw where she was going with it, I got over it and liked it. It wasn’t so much of a traditional murder mystery as a question of who the murderer was: The person it obviously was versus who the Inquisitor is trying to pin it on. It reminded me of in Harry Potter when everyone accused Harry of lying about Voldemort being back.
At the end of the first book, Clary and Jace have found out that Valentine is their father -and that they’re brother and sister -so one of the major themes in CoA is how they are handling this revelation in different ways and how it impacts their decisions. Clary pretty much wants nothing to do with Valentine, but then again, she wasn’t raised by Valentine. Sinisterly charming, evil Valentine is the only Valentine she knows, so it makes it easier for her to hate him. Jace, on the other hand, was raised by Valentine -and even though he had a troubled childhood, Valentine was the only father figure he knew until the Lightwoods took him in. He feels more beholden to Valentine than Clary does.
This leads me to another criticism of the book -and I really don’t want to sound like I didn’t like it. I actually really enjoyed Ashes, just as much as Bones. I like Cassandra Clare’s writing style, and she really pulls you into this underbelly of New York City she’s created. I love the action, I love the tension, her sense of humor, the teenage angst, and the suspense. She definitely leaves the reader wanting more. But I have to say…I find Valentine to be lacking sometimes. He’s a pretty traditional evil villain, that’s fine, we don’t have to go psycho-analyzing him. But the narration talks a lot about how utterly manipulative Valentine is, but we’re not shown this very often, or at least not in a very sophisticated way. I just think it could have been done better. Just sayin. I don’t know how anyone else feels about this, so feel free to argue with me, lol. Also, he and Jace seem to have these long, drawn “philosophical” discussions that really aren’t as substantial as they could be. Then again, I found Jace’s inner struggle to be very palpable. You can tell at times he comes close to siding with Valentine.
And now, onto Clary and Jace. Okay, you may not want to read this part if you haven’t read the books. I was trying to keep this spoiler free, but this paragraph is definitely going to hint at things to come. I was really frustrated at the end of Bones when it came out that Jace and Clary were brother and sister. In Ashes you start to get the feeling that…well, this may not be the case, but it’s still kind of a gray area. Anyway, my point is that at least noticing these hints sprinkled in, and the fact that I may have looked up some spoilers online, made me a lot more comfortable about shipping Jace/Clary. I like to think I shipped them because I saw what comes up later in City of Glass. It was either that, or she was really going to go all Flowers in the Attic on us. But then again, when Jace says things like “Does this feel wrong to you?” to Clary, I’m like uh that’s kinda hot. (I don’t remember what the exact quote was, but I think it was something like that. Now I can’t even find it in the book. Maybe it’s all in my head?…) I liked what Ms. Clare did with the Seelie Queen/Court scene…no one does Seelie quite like Karen Marie Moning, but it was satisfactory. 😉
Spoilers over…now. You may read on.
Last but not least, we have more (but it’s never enough, really) of the funny, glittery Magnus Bane. Seriously, I think she depicts his character the best – he really pops off the page. He has a strange sense of humor; it’s a little bit dry, and even when he’s kinda being an ass, he still cracks me up: “I’d say it’s been nice meeting you all, but, in fact, it hasn’t. It’s been quite awkward, and frankly, the next time I see a single one of you will be far too soon.” And he and Alec, although they have their issues they need to sort through, are just too adorbs. I feel super bad for Magnus, though, when it’s clear Alec still has unresolved feelings for Jace.
Now, since I didn’t post a music video on Monday, I decided to find one to “go” with The Mortal Instruments. Okay, Robbie Williams singing about “Angels” really isn’t a demon-slaying theme song, but it was the first thing that popped into my head. And who doesn’t love a little 90s? (Or early 2000s? I can’t really remember when this song came out…)
Amazon Book Description: “Strange things are happening in Maya’s tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya’s home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.
“It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.”
Armstrong’s Darkness Rising trilogy takes place in the same world as her Darkest Powers trilogy -same mad scientific organization, different subjects. This time, Armstrong takes us to a small, isolated research community in Canada where the St. Clouds perform “pharmaceutical drug trials.” Maya lives there with her adoptive parents (this isn’t a spoiler, she’s well-aware that she’s adopted) that operate a wildlife reserve. Maya takes care of injured animals there and seems to have a special connection with the animals as well as uncanny healing abilities. She and her friend Daniel are still healing themselves after her best friend and his girlfriend Serena (a seasoned swimmer) drowns mysteriously in a lake. They really start asking questions about Serena’s death when a nosey outsider named Mina Lee appears in town and wants to talk to the teenagers about the research that goes on there. She seems especially interested in the life of a high schooler in their isolated community, their hobbies, and specifically in Maya.
Meanwhile, newcomer and local bad boy Rafael (Rafe) Martinez is also taking a special interest in Maya. As Maya gets to know Rafe, she realizes they have more in common than just their Native American ancestry. (Sorry for the ambiguity -I’m trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible!) Rafe might not be the bad boy he pretends to be, but his interest in Maya may not be entirely selfless, either. One thing I liked about this book is that Maya is an independent and plucky kinda girl. She’s very bold with Rafe (even bolder than usual, she admits) and often takes charge in their relationship, including initiating their, uh, make out sessions. Even though much of the book focuses on her relationship with Rafe, you kind of get the feeling that Armstrong is heading into love triangle territory since there seems to be some unresolved tension between Maya and Daniel. And, of course, Daniel doesn’t trust Rafe, so there’s friction between those two as well. (Do I sense a potential bromance in the works?)
When I started The Gathering, I was still on a high from reading my first paranormal romance trilogy by author Kelley Armstrong, The Darkest Powers. (You can find my book review for that series here.) I’m not sure what it was about The Gathering that I didn’t like. I mean, I liked it -I just didn’t love it, and I don’t know what about it didn’t take it to the next level for me. There were a lot of plot elements similar to The Darkest Powers trilogy -like Chloe has to put up with bitchy witch (teehee) Tori, Maya has to deal with mean girl Hayley. And there are the hints of a Daniel-Maya-Rafe love triangle. But these parallels didn’t really bother me. I mean, I’ve read and loved all of L. J. Smith’s books, and those all have very similar basic structures: Same basic premise, different twist. By the way, isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?…Well, I’m not really expecting different results, so I guess I’m okay! 😉
Anyway, so it wasn’t the repetition. Something was missing for me. It seemed to be action-packed, but I didn’t become totally invested in the characters. I could put the book down if I wanted to. I also think it took too long for Maya to figure out who/what she is. The reader will become aware of it early in the book, but then it takes Maya almost the whole book to figure it out. That was a little frustrating. I enjoyed Maya’s character, though. Not only was she independent, she had an adventurous spirit and her narration and dialogue was just plain funny -she has a dry, sarcastic wit (kind of like yours truly).
Although I wasn’t in lurve with this book, I will still totally read the other ones. I’m curious enough to see what will happen next, and hopefully they get better.
Upcoming Books of the Week: Darkness Rising: The Calling (Book 2) and The Rising (Book 3); Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones; Karen Marie Moning’s The Dark Highlander