Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare

City of Heavenly Fire
Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments, #6
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: A + a truckful of tissue boxes
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Well one thing is true: Cassandra Clare knows how to end a series. And at the same time, she knows how to keep our sorry selves hooked from now until the world is consumed and forsaken by demons.

Let me explain. If you've read Clockwork Princess (if you haven't then I don't know what you're doing with your life), then you know what I mean. In the last book, all of the stories that Clare has set from the spindle, has unwoven and unwoven and unwoven, fall completely apart and are stitched back together by the end. The villain has moments of fury, a few people never see the light of day again, certain characters become undone and new again, people die, the romances have their denouements . . . it's a beautiful ending. It may not be the necessary ending, but it's a beautiful, neat, and at the very least, sensible, ending.

Though City of Heavenly Fire (hereafter CoHF) strays from this and stretches the beautiful part, I still think it deserves the description. Developments I never thought of, characters I completely forgot, were given some form of closure (and for a certain Taki's employee, a lot of frustration). There were a few seeming strikes, like the way a certain character seems to move on after someone dies . . . but then that began to make sense under the pressure and emotion of what took place. I do have one strike though, for the end, but I'll save that for the end.

Unlike Clockwork Princess, though, Clare softens the pain of an ending with the prologue to a new beginning. Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn are heavily featured throughout the chapters of CoHF and this was something that immediately won me over. The scene where Emma is doubled over and Julian brings her her blade, Cortana.
" . . .  and there was Jules, leaning against the edge of the bed, and holding something out to her . . .
It was Cortana. . . . Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal. . . .
This is what her father had meant: Like Cortana, she had steel in her veins and she was meant to be strong . . . She hugged the sword against her chest. As if from a distance, she heard Helen exclaim and reach for her, but Julian . . . tugged Helen's hand back. . . . blood was running down her arms and chest . . . She didn't feel it . . . she clutched the sword like it was the only thing she had ever loved . . . " (Clare, 58)
I think that scene is just irrefragably one of the most powerful moments in the novel, as it sums up the horrors of Sebastian's (it's hard not to call him Sebi-chan) 'Dark War', the problems with the Clave, and Emma's manner of coping with pain.

But in wonderful contrast to that, Clare pours out Simon's clipping, sarcastic comedy, Jace's hot hotness and hilarity, Clary's endless wondering . . . things we know we'll sorely miss. For the sake of the Angel, the book starts with Jordan and Jace discussing how hot Jace is, literally, while meditating on a beach. It's so normal that it seems magical in itself.

And I love magic! Especially in the form of demon realms! And it's one certain demon realm that leads me to my next point: The characters themselves have definitely developed, and I love, love love the way it's shown. Smack in the middle of the book, Clare gives the characters their final crossroads, their final set of desires and paths, by feeding them to dream-eating demons that show them, crookedly, what they might want. Each character is faced with something horribly interesting: Clary seems to want to be with Jace, married, with her family, including Jonathan, a brother who was never turned into Sebastian by Valentine. Freaking Izzy wants to be human? THAT was character development, from the hardcore bad-ass to settled down? Though the dream-eater was slightly wrong, and the characters don't end up that way, the developments are still as powerful. Jace, by the end of this book, has found his peace, he has found that love does not destroy and he has soften the darkness inside of him. Magnus has determined not to solidify. Simon tracks down Cassandra Clare and demands City of Simon (this might not be at all factual). Hell, even Jonathan Morgenstern finds happiness.

(This is getting long . . . I'll try to keep this review short. I'm sorry, this book is more than 700 pages long! How many forests have been cut down so that Clary and Jace could almost have sex? HOW MANY?)

I realize I have been talking about CoHF as the closing pages of a book. But it's not just an ending. It is quite standalone because of the scope of the material. New characters like Bat are introduced and have their entire developments throughout the book, seemingly to replace the mass grave we suffer a few chapters in. And I love Bat, and I love the new little bits in the books like (SPOILER (skip to next paragraph): Maia's wanting to break up with Jordan) despite the last book never indicating anything as such.

This is such a powerful message: things happen outside the books. These characters DO LIVE ON. That might be some vain, childish wish, but Cassandra Clare makes that wish something worth pining after. There are mysteries and secrets and lives lived after this novel. In The Infernal Devices, Magnus Bane was re-introduced, and in CoHF, he mentions the lives he's lead right up until Alec, to whom he gifts what I'm sure are THE FREAKING BANE CHRONICLES. But the message is the same, Magnus (and another warlock) lived lives before this book, will live lives after it, will have death after it and love . . . I"m getting emotional, let me backtrack to the sex.

Clary and Jace finally had sex. They did the do. The do was done. Finally. Out of the way. Thank all the gods and angels you can think of.


My one real strike is that the ending is almost too happy. Something needed to happen to someone and that thing did not happen. SPOILER (skip to the next paragraph to avoid): Simon doesn't die. Magnus doesn't die. Alec, Izzy, Jace, Jocelyn, etc, live. One of the main cast had to die. Jordan and Raphael do not count. They were secondary and very close to my heart but no, I will not believe Asmodeus was stupid enough to think that our team would not Ascend Simon beyond his control. Unless there's some other motive behind not taking at least Magnus's life, I don't understand. There is a willingness to keep a certain happiness through the novel, and yes, so many people were lost already, but the reader has to feel the loss personally, the effect has to be Luke losing Amatis. We have to lose Simon. Granted, what happened to him sucked, but there was hope for a full recovery. That means we haven't lost anything. We were given a glimpse of what life would be like without Shadowhunters, and then what life would be like without Simon, but this isn't enough. One of them, I felt, needed to die. Unfortunately, I can see why the story panned out the way it did.

Despite this, I still cannot find it in myself to lower this from five stars.

The ending is not full of happiness though, and though I will give you no spoilers further, you will be sad. For me, I knew something like it would happen but I rooted for it not to.

I honestly don't know what else to say. This novel is packed, and a proper review would take ages and ages and bore the hell out of anyone reading it. Bravo Cassie, I can't wait until Lady Midnight.

- Marlon

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1 comment:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I totally feel in love with the characters and would be happy to read more.

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