Spoiler Alert! City of Heavenly Fire is the sixth and final book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Therefore, this review contains major spoilers for the entire series, but especially the fifth book, City of lost Souls. You have been warned.
Right before The Hobbit movies started coming out in the theater, I excitedly read the book. I had read it when I was younger, but hadn’t appreciated it as much, so I was due for a thorough re-read. You can imagine my disappoint when I went to the first movie and they had added two characters that weren’t in the book and inserted a weird love story as well. But what was even more disappointing than the tweaks they made to the first third of the story was the second movie. It was dull, unexciting, and fell very short of my expectations. The third movie made up for some of my disappointment, but overall the trilogy was not what I expected it to be, especially after Peter Jackson’s incredible work with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
But why am I telling you this story of yet another book to movie adaption disappointment? Because it’s the second movie I want to focus on, just like I need to take some time to focus on the third and fourth books in The Mortal Instruments series, as I reflect on the sixth and final book. With any story, the most exciting parts take place in the beginning and at the end. A well-written middle is also exciting and good, but it’s not as good as the beginning and end. The middle is where the tough stuff happens, where the story really forms, and it’s hard. It’s hard to get through, it’s hard to imagine being in. That’s why the second Hobbit movie felt so poorly done. When Peter Jackson divided a 366 page book into a three part movie trilogy, he failed to consider one very important thing: he would be dedicating an entire movie to the middle of a story. Let that sink in, and consider possibly your own distaste for that particular movie. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Now, let me consider City of Glass and City of Fallen Angels, the third and fourth book in The Mortal Instruments series. If you recall from my reviews, I did not enjoy these books as much as I did the books preceding and following them. And as I reached the conclusion of the last book, City of Heavenly Fire, I saw just how necessary much of what happened in the third and fourth books was. Although, I really still could have done without all the angst and weird love triangle action.
My point is this: City of Heavenly Fire is a-m-a-z-i-n-g, and seriously makes up for any dragging or frustration in the other books, especially the third and fourth. It starts off kind of slow, but once I finally let myself get into it, I could not put it down. I honestly don’t even know where to start with summarizing it, so much happened in its 726 pages, that I’ll just share the Goodreads summary, even though I try not to do that:
Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.
The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?
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…
Mesmerized is the best way to describe how I feel about this book. Cassandra Clare once again expanded the universe these books take place in without making it seem burdensome or overwhelming. She even introduced a whole new set of characters. I was initially concerned that they would detract from the story, but they served to add to it. I look forward to, at some point, reading the series that spins off from those characters.
The new characters aside, though, I cannot get enough of how well Clare wraps up each character’s story without making it seem like their lives stop when the book ends. There was one character whose ending was as little too convenient, but I love the character too much to care. My favorite character ending however, was Sebastian’s. It was horrific, beautiful, poignant, and redemptive. I’m trying not to spoil it too much, but know that it brings a lot of closure to his whole story.
I did not expect to love City of Heavenly Fire as much as I did. I was feeling a little down on the series as a whole because of some of the problems I had with previous books. But like I mentioned earlier, those books were the middle of a very long story. While I wish they had been written better, in the grand scheme of the entire series, they are somewhat forgivable. If you are struggling to get through this series, keep reading. It gets better. City of Heavenly Fire is so worth it.
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare gets 5/5 stars.