City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare | Rating: ★★★★☆
“Did Brother Zachariah just steal our cat?”
After what felt like decades of waiting, the bestselling The Mortal Instruments series has come to a close and frankly, it may be one of the best books in Cassandra Clare’s popular series yet. I thoroughly enjoyed the finale and while I am especially sad to say goodbye to this batch of characters, I think the ending was very good and extremely entertaining, romantic and action packed.
I’m having withdrawals already and readers, you know it’s always rather bittersweet when a series you love ends. So I’m willing to bet each of you know this feeling very well, regardless of your view on the series.
Although many have mixed feelings on both these novels (including myself in the past) and the author, I find that as the years go by I’ve grown quite attached to these characters and the world of Shadowhunters. In this world, there is just something about it.
The characters are strong and funny and interesting to read; each of them brings something great upfront to the story and makes you love them or hate them. And their world is our world when we enter it.
Cassandra, as usual, provides us with something great to escape to.
We say goodbye to many characters in different ways. Some die and the others remain until the very last page. There are some loose ends in the series, but for the most part CoHF does its job in tying up the series and bringing it to a dramatic close. And we get to see the villainous Sebastian at his worst and, believe it or not, best.
Many scenes are memorable throughout the story and each will bring the fans something that they’ve perhaps been waiting for. There are shocking moments, there is steamy romance and there is heartbreak. If you’ve yet to read the story, stop reading this review.
Right now. Stop reading it if you wish to not be spoiled, because now is when I go into detail!
I’m serious this is your last warning!
H’okay — onto the spoiler-ish portion of the evening, ladies and gents. I’m going to start by saying there were many things I loved about the story — at the start we see one of the last light hearted moments of a good portion of our leads as a whole. We get some cute moments between Jace and Clary, as per usual, we get a little bit of Simon and Isabelle which is always a pleasure.
We then see the potential problems stirring up in Maia and Jordan’s relationship which is both realistic and disappointing. Disappointing because for one reason or another, I was really rooting for the two. And although it is not shocking, what happens rather quickly in the story is: one of them dies. Suddenly and in the arms of the other, who was having doubts about their relationship and it’s just heartbreaking. I will say that for the surviving one of the duo, they do have a little bit of a happy ending for themselves and I’m grateful Cassandra didn’t leave them miserable and hanging.
I know I said I was probably going to spoil something and that spoiler was really half assed. I’m sorry — I just can’t bring myself to say it! So, onto the next…
Fan favorite ship Sizzy is in the ‘will they, won’t they?’ category for nearly the entire novel and it’s safe to say I will always root for the two. Their relationship is definitely one I love to read and wish there had been more of throughout the series — Simon is just so funny and Izzy is probably one of my favorite fictional females ever. I loved their scene where they are reunited towards the middle of the story, after Simon finds a way to her, and they have a little bit of roleplaying going on. Steamy, funny and ultimately awkward.
Especially since a fight follows.
Did I mention the awkward bit? When Alec walks on it?
Oh, our darling Alec is still devastatingly heartbroken over his relationship with Magnus. For much of the time we see him brooding and pinning for his relationship to return — and who could blame him? A breakup like that is painful. He is fortunate to have friends who are willing to go to bat for him and try to talk Magnus into mending things with him — which, thankfully, leads us to a hilarious scene between Jace and Magnus.
And I do mean hilarious.
Fortunately for us Malec shippers, we do get quite a few scenes of the two together which will make us cringe, sigh or swoon — their relationship is a highlight of the series’ romantic plots and really any scene with Magnus is enjoyable. We do get a good bit of closure by the end of the novel which fortunately means the two are endgame for the series and I was just incredibly happy about this.
I liked that we got to see a betrayal from a certain ally of the Shadowhunters and their association with Sebastian was deliciously evil. I don’t want to say that I like Sebastian as a character but he is definitely my cup of tea when it comes to villains — so creepy. He is literally so screwed up and it makes the plot that much more interesting. I’m willing to forgive the incredibly uncomfortable scenes and affections he has for his sister, too — because that only adds to his creeptastic nature.
Am I right?
Bad character, good villain.
And lastly, on relationship notes, I’m glad we got to see Clary and Jace at their very best. Their romance has always been something that I’ve found myself attached to and it was just lovely to see them able to be themselves in the midst of all the chaos. And there’s a few certain steamy scenes as they launch themselves into a battle, ready to fight Sebastian, that made me fan myself a few times because whoa-wow-wee. Clace for the win, guys. CLACE!
There’s not much else to be said, really — as usual, they work really well together and provide us with something entertaining and I just couldn’t get enough of them. I’m happy to see they’re, too, getting their happily ever after. And let’s also talk about Jace taking on his place as a Herondale.
I do have to admit I wish there’d been a bit more Jocelyn and Luke scenes. But I’m not complaining about what we did see — the were fortunately not any of the characters who died and were married by the series end. I’m really happy with how their story ended up and I’m so glad that they will get to be a family (Clary, Jocelyn and Luke) in an official sort of way.
Everyone really came together in this novel and although we suffered many losses, it was still a great way to see the end of this story. I’m glad we got a sneak peak at the characters that we’ll get to know in the new series and I find I am already growing attached to those little nuggets. I can already tell things are going to be interesting in the newest series.
I saved my last two favourite notes for last… Ready?
BROTHER ZACHARIAH. Jem fucking Carstairs. My baby. TESSA AND JEM. My babies! Ugh, I’m sorry I’m just so happy we got to see a good portion of him and a little Jessa scenes. The Infernal Devices is one of my absolute favorite series and it just made my entire fucking year — and how awesome is it we got to meet another Carstairs and got a small glimpse into the newest entry of the Shadowhunter world? I really am excited and hope that we’ll see him pop up in the new series as well, even if only for a scene. I also think it was brilliant that Tessa was the inspiration for Jocelyn’s last name as she took aim for living in the Mundane world and that Tessa passed along something Herondale for Jace.
The way it all tied together was just perfect.
God, I could go on for hours about that and this story and I feel like I should say more but I can’t without sounding like too big of a fangirl but I’m just so happy with their scenes and how the story was done. In fact, the more I think of it the more fangirly I get. Please stop, Jessica.
And not so oddly, my second favorite bit was when Sebastian bites the dust. Not just because he bites the dust, but also because it was done really well. I loved that Clary and Jace worked together and managed to outsmart him and shocked the others. They pulled that off really well and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I also enjoyed how we saw his eyes turn to the green they should have been, had Valentine not done what he did to him.
I don’t think that he is necessarily a victim at the end of the day, but at the same time I find it rather tragic that we see what he could have been.
Those last moments where he isn’t Sebastian but is Jonathan — the moment shared with Clary and Jocelyn and all of that doesn’t make up for the tragedy and chaos he’d brought them, but it did give a good sense of closure and made me feel further sympathy toward Jocelyn, for the son she could have had but lost, and the brother that Clary could have had. He never existed and I think that’s one of the saddest things ever when thinking of that plot. Seeing them mourn for what he could have been, in spite of their hatred for what he was, is one of the best scenes in the entire series in my opinion.
Now, onto my least favorite plots…
I do not like the judgmental, discrimination that was witnessed towards the end of the story to certain characters who were only half Shadowhunter but I do think that will always be something common in their world as well as ours. We fear what is different, especially when something of similar structure has failed or betrayed us. So while that bugged me, I am able to accept that it was crucial to the plot.
As for my least favorite plot of the story… can you guess?
Simon and his sacrifice to get the gang out of hell. While I am glad that he is able to rid himself of being a vampire, it was just heartbreaking to see him have to forget them all and leave Clary and Isabelle behind in particular — when Clary tries to contact him after they’d been freed and he doesn’t remember her it is literally one of the saddest scenes ever. I can’t imagine having to lose memories of my best friend or have my best friend lose memories of me; I don’t think I could be selfless enough to do it. But I’m glad he did; I really am — it was one of the biggest character growths I’d seen in the series and it really threw me, and the characters, for a loop.
It did bring Isabelle and Clary together by the end of the novel and I’m glad. I’d always wanted a stronger bond between the two and this really sealed that deal; because only they felt the strongest sting of the loss (but not quite loss) of Simon and I think it was a really simple and beautiful moment they share. I’d like to think that they remain close for the rest of their lives.
Thankfully, though, we do get a happy ending. Although Simon doesn’t regain all of his memories (at least not yet) — with the help of Magnus, we see him slowly making his way to remembering them. He is overwhelmed, but he’ll get there — he finally remembers Clary as his best friend and there is a really sweet moment between him and Izzy that mirrors something from a previous novel. I only wished there had been more — that we’d seen more of his progress.
But I’m not really complaining — I’m just glad he was able to begin to remember.
Okay… I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot, and I may edit it in the future, but the moral of the story is City of Heavenly Fire is a must read for fans of The Mortal Instruments series. It is solid. Action packed. Steamy. Heartbreaking. Terrific.
It is perfect and released just in time for summer. And although it was a long wait, it was totally worth the wait. I loved it so much and I hope you do too.