Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned. Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments.
This review might contain spoilers for the previous books in the series.
Guys! I FINALLY read this book. I read the first three books years and years ago. I loved them back then, and I knew there was going to be a spin off series, but then the series just randomly continued, which threw me a little. I didn’t love City of Fallen Angels to be honest, and I struggled a lot with the first half of City of Lost Souls (books 4 and 5 in the series, if all the City titles are confusing you too). It felt like the story was past the point where it should have naturally ended, and the writing bothered me a little as well. At one point I took three sample pages from City of Lost Souls and counted how many times the words “gold” and “silver” were used to describe random body parts of Jace or Sebastian. Trust me, it was a lot. HOWEVER, I did care about the characters and the story enough to want to finish the series. Little did I know there were going to be 18329 more books in the Shadowhunter world, but let’s not digress.
First things first, this book is LONG. I have the paperback, but I have a feeling it’s still heavy enough to knock someone out. Forget baseball bats, this is the only weapon I need if someone ever breaks into my apartment. Or steals my chocolate. So how long did it take me to make it through this 733 page long monster of a book? Goodreads says six days (and we all know Goodreads is more reliable than my memory), but I was actually reading the better part of it for the last day and a half. Maybe it’s because I’ve waited so long, but I really enjoyed returning to the characters and the world and I was in the exact right mood to read it. I love all the new books and authors I’m discovering, but I miss the feeling of returning to a world I already know and love, so I really appreciated that in this book.
Even though it feels like a direct continuation of the first three books, the latter three in the series do focus much more on other characters besides Clary and Jace. There are advantages and disadvantages to this, but let’s talk about the good things first. Reading City of Heavenly Fire gave more or less equal attention to Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle, Alec, Magnus and the others. I’ve really grown to care about all of these characters – at least the ones I mentioned by name in my last sentence – so it was great to get to read about them all one last time (until the next unexpected sequel). Most of the Love Dodecahedron from the last couple of books is resolved by the beginning of City of Heavenly Fire, and I’ve grown to like the couples together. Especially Isabelle and Simon. It’s much more of an ensemble cast, and I loved that.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t just focus on the main characters, but we get A LOT of different people’s POVs. Emma Carstairs and her friends, who are going to be the protagonists of the next series are introduced and, while it was well done, she monopolized a considerable chunk of the story, which was a little distracting. Basically, we jump around from character to character and, while all of their perspectives are interesting and semi-relevant to the plot, it gets confusing and slows the story down. Often, we get to see one event from about five different POVs, so it feels like it happens over and over and over again. I think less POVs would have made for a more concise and evenly-paced story. Sometimes it took me a while to figure out from whose POV I was reading, and that is one of my absolute pet peeves.
The repetitions aren’t quite as bad as in the previous books, but they’re still overkill. I got it the first time, no need to repeat it twenty more. There is also the fact that the whole story arc feels a little been-there-done-that. It’s basically City of Glass in a slightly different setting. There’s this one scene in which Clary buys a sword, and it’s basically the wand scene from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. A set of matched blades, commissioned at the same time, one used for good and one used for evil – sound familiar? And then all the Infernal Devices stuff. I only read the first book of that series, so I’m not entirely sure what the deal is there, but it was a little much. An easter egg to throw fans a bone is great, especially if it doesn’t give away the solution to the other series in case people are reading it after TMI, but this was way more. Part of it (or more a certain someone) was kind of badass though, so I’ll forgive it.
Despite all its misgivings, I genuinely enjoyed City of Heavenly Fire. I thought it was a much better book than the last two, and I was laughing at the perfect snark and rooting for the pining lovers and the doomed fighters. The aspect I enjoyed most of all was definitely how the relationships, romantic and non-romantic, were handled. Just based on my enjoyment of the book, I’m giving it 4.5 cupcakes. If you’ve stuck with the series for this long, definitely give the last book a try because it’s worth it!