City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare – review

June 2, 2014

City of Heavenly Fire is the sixth and final book in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. It is the final chapter in the fight between Sebastian and Team Good for control of the world itself.  There has been major hype and excitement about this book, closing off as it does, the adventures of much loved characters.

For me personally, I found the book somewhat of a disappointment.  This is the final book in the series and far too often Clare took the easy road.

What I liked

Setup for the next trilogy.  It is perhaps a measure of my disappointment that the aspect of this book I found most intriguing was the setup for the next series, The Dark Artifices.  TDA is set in LA and is centred around Emma Carstairs and her friend Julian Blackthorn, whom we meet in this book.  At first I’d been unconvinced about the LA setting – for me vampires/werewolves/demons etc have an old world feel, and seemed better suited to the older cities of New York and London.  However Clare completely convinced me LA was a valid setting and I really loved the character of Emma.  She is still little more than a child in The Mortal Instruments, but I sense that she is going to be a kick-ass heroine with considerable depth.  City of Heavenly Fire does give hints as to where The Dark Artifices may go in terms of storyline.  Bring them on!

The Faerie storyline.  I found this very interesting.  It was one of the few plot points in the book that took me by surprise.  I liked that the Shadowhunters’ arrogance is likely to have serious fallout in The Dark Artifices.

Some nice character development.  Where it existed, the character development was nicely done – I enjoyed how Magnus Bane and Isabelle Lightwood were written.  Not so much the others.

The Infernal Devices references.  Clare has made no secret of the fact that characters from The Infernal Devices have a role to play in City of Heavenly Fire.  The epilogue of Clockwork Princess confirmed it.  Even though their involvement was pretty much as predicted, I still enjoyed reading about Brother Zachariah and Tessa Gray.  I also loved the Jessamine shoutout!

The narration.  I did enjoy Sophie Turner’s and Jason Dohring’s narration, although I would describe it as competent rather than excellent.  I still don’t understand why some characters have British accents and others American.

What I didn’t like

Easy way out.  This is the final book in the series.  Our protagonists are in the middle of a war to the death, and yet only minor characters appeared to suffer long term consequences from the events of the series as a whole.  Even a major character’s significant sacrifice – which could have added a real emotional impact to the series is all but reversed in the epilogue.  For me this robbed the book of any emotional punches. The only characters who seems to have come through the war with any character development at all are Magnus and Izzy.  It could have been so much more.  Compared to Clockwork Princess, the ending is weak and safe.  Clare could have done so much better.

Rather predictable.  Much of what happened was rather predictable.  I won’t say too much more to avoid spoilers, but there was little that surprised me in the plotting of the book

All in all, I found City of Heavenly Fire a rather disappointing finish to The Mortal Instruments.   I gave it three stars out of five.

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