Spoiler Alert! City of Lost Souls is the fifth book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Therefore, this review contains major spoilers for the previous books, but especially the fourth book, City of Fallen Angels. You have been warned.
I was a little nervous going into City of Lost Souls. It seems to be fairly polarizing among readers, and a friend couldn’t even finish it (neither of us take not finishing a book lightly, so I knew she really could not stand it). I have had some frustrations with these books, but if you’ve read my previous reviews, you know that most of my issues are with the romantic subplots, and not really with the main story.
Whew. This book was slow-going. But when I got to the end, I saw just how much it needed to be slow. City of Lost Souls was very different from all the previous Mortal Instruments books. Clary’s character development was incredible in this book. She really came into her own, got more independent, and more reasonable as a human being. This book was less about trying to find a way to “un-link” Jace and Sebastian, get Jace back to normal, and get rid of Sebastian, and more about Clary learning to slow down and calculate her moves.
City of Lost Souls opens two weeks after the end of City of Fallen Angels. The search for Jace and Sebastian (who disappeared from the roof of the building where the Battle Royale with Lilith took place) has proved fruitless, and the Clave is turning its main efforts elsewhere. Clary, Simon, Isabelle, and Alec are not read to give up. They recruit Magnus, Alec’s boyfriend, to help them continue the search for Jace and Sebastian. Well, Clary starts to go out on her own again (as per usual). She soon discovers that Jace and Sebastian are working together, but they are linked somehow. Jace is not himself and Sebastian seems to have taken over for both of them. Clary is able to investigate under the ruse that she wishes to join her brother (Sebastian) in continuing Valentine’s (their father) work.
City of Lost Souls is a race to release Jace from Sebastian, stop Sebastian’s plans, and defeat Sebastian. While Clary lives with and follows along with Jace and Sebastian, trying to figure out a way to discern and thwart what Sebastian is plotting, Simon and company rush to find a way to sever Jace and Sebastian’s link without killing Jace. I really liked the way this book operated. On one side, you have Clary, who is exploring European cities and quietly observing what is happening with Sebastian and Jace. On the other, Sebastian, Isabelle, Alec, and Magnus are essentially in panic mode, rushing around to try and figure out a solution to all of the problems that keep building up.
It was incredible to see Clary less focused on the angst with Jace (although this whole book is centered on her trying to get her boyfriend back from the guy who has him essentially demon-possessed). We get to see her develop as a Shadowhunter and even grow up a little bit. She continues to make in-the-moment decisions, but she learns from her mistakes more and seems to be a little more level-headed. Basically, Cassandra Clare once again demonstrates her remarkable ability with character development.
City of Lost Souls gets 4/5 stars.