Helloooo, bookworms! So, I honestly just don’t even know what I’m doing with my life right now. I basically read and work and do stuff with my wee monsters and completely just have not been writing anything at all. I have been thinking about getting back into editing and writing the novel I somehow managed to write nearly a year ago (holy hell what have I been doing)… Anyway, we’re here so I can rant about a series, not rant on how much writing I have not been doing. Let’s do it!
I have also read the two novella collections attached to this series since I finished reading the actual series, so I’m going to include them in this review. I’m not sure if I can actually review this full series without being spoilers but let’s give it a go, shall we? First off, here are the Goodreads links for all of the books and novella collections attached to The Mortal Instruments series in case you’d like to see the individual synopsis or add them to your TBR. (You should definitely add them to your TBR.)
- City of Bones
- City of Ashes
- City of Glass
- City of Fallen Angels
- City of Lost Souls
- City of Heavenly Fire
- The Bane Chronicles
- Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
I had a work friend advise me to read the books in this specific order (The Mortal Instruments 1-6, The Bane Chronicles, then Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy) to get the most out of them. I really enjoyed them in this order, but obviously it’s a personal choice thing. Cassandra Clare did manage to avoid being overly spoilery in the novella collections (The Bane Chronicles and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy) so you could theoretically read them first or in the middle if you wanted to, though there are a couple big plot points that would have been spoiled for me if I had picked them up first like I initially planned to.
The characters are all amazing, though I obviously have my favourites. They’re all very well developed and Cassandra Clare obviously put a good bit of work into creating and building up individuality for each and every one of them. I feel like I could sit down at Taki’s and have a full conversation with any and all of them, though I would prefer some of them stayed home. If you’ve read the series, I’m sure you can guess who. I’m going to try to talk about the individual characters a bit without being spoilery about it, but I promise nothing so if you haven’t read yet and don’t want to be spoiled you should probably skip over this bit to the next section.
I’m not going to lie… Clary kind of got on my nerves a bit at first. She’s a bit cocky and overconfident and selfish. Really, I understand that she’s a very well developed teen character so I’m not disappointed with the fact that she was a bit irritating at first, but all the same I found her that way. However, from the City of Glass on, she was really great to read. Regardless, she was well developed through the whole thing and a complete badass by the end, so I’m calling her character a win.
Jace was and is an ass. I feel like there’s a lot of “I have to appear not to care because I care too much” going on with him through pretty much the entire series, but his character development, to me, screamed “jock.” I’m still not entirely sure I like his character, but I feel like he’s built up and realistic enough to have a conversation with so obviously Cassie Clare write him well.
Simon is so freaking precious while still somehow being awesome. He’s basically what every D&D nerd wishes they could end their teen years as. While I feel like he was dealt a rough hand, I love his character arc and I hope it continues being as great as it has been so far.
The one character I couldn’t completely get a grip on was Alec. I feel like I only know him in relation to other characters. I can easily see him with Jace as a parabatai, with Isabelle as a brother, and with someone I won’t say to save from spoiling as a significant other. However, I don’t feel like I could sit down and have a conversation with Alec as a character. Who is Alec without the other people in his life? I’m not entirely certain and that makes me a bit disappointed because there is so much potential there.
Isabelle is another character who I had a little trouble getting an idea of without the relation to the other characters. Alec and Jace’s sister, someone’s possible girlfriend, etc. I do feel like I know her slightly better than Alec though so there’s that? I do enjoy her character and how it’s often described as fierce. I also relate very much to how she covers up her true feelings.
Oh. My. Goodness. Magnus Bane. For the first time, I found myself torn between an OTP and a book boyfriend. I feel like I should take a moment to point out that, as an adult, I’ve never had a book boyfriend before because I read a lot of Young Adult and New Adult novels and it just felt… weird. But, given that Magnus is several hundred years old, I feel like it’s okay? Plus, he’s fabulous, okay?! However, I will 100% stand aside and let my OTP rule because I NEED THIS OTP AND IT IS CANNON!! (Insert all the heart eyes here.)
He was not a main character and we didn’t see much of him, but I can’t write this series review without mentioning Max. I was told that what happens in his plot line isn’t the saddest of the series, though… It kind is for me. I don’t know if maybe it would have been different if I read this as a teen but Max’s character arc hit me so, so hard. Like… I can’t even write this without tearing up about it. Is that probably because Max is the same age as one of my wee monsters? Possibly. Is it also probably because Max is so similar in personality to said similarly aged monster? Probably. I just… Max. You deserved better.
Valentine was very morally gray and he honestly believed what he was doing was for the better of everyone, shadowhunters and mundanes (the Shadowhunter equivalent of Harry Potter’s muggles) alike. We get some back story on how he got this way in one of the novellas, but there isn’t really much. I feel like he could have gotten a bit more development because he’s not poorly done, but he does seem to fall a little flat to me at times.
What Cassandra Clare did with Jonathan Morganstern’s character development was absolutely masterful. Jonathan was not morally gray at all. If there is a shade darker than black, that is what color his morality is. But I still somehow managed to feel for him and understand why he did the things he did? I’m not sure if that says something about me or him or Cassie’s writing but… wow. He is incredibly complex and real and probably the best developed character in the series in my opinion.
Shadowhunters in general (I’m looking at you, Clave): You’re all assholes. Good day.
Y’all. The world building. If I could learn just one thing from Cassandra Clare it would be how to build up entire worlds the way she has here. The thing I love about stories like this one is that they take the real world and layer an entire other world on top of it or parallel to it. The way that Cassandra Clare has done this is nearly seamless.
I really like the way that the Shadow world bumps up against the mundane world at times and how that’s explained in the story. It takes what could have potentially been a rough patch in the world building and sanded it down to sweet, smooth perfection. I love the Shadow world almost the same as the Wizarding world, which if you’ve been around me a bit you know is a lot. Maybe even as much. I feel too feely right now to say for sure. Too many feels.
I do still have one question about the world though because I don’t feel like it was answered outright and here it is: Alicante. It’s glamoured so mundanes will never find it and if they accidentally wander too close, they’re redirected. Yes, okay, great. But. What about a mundane in space looking down at the earth? Would they not notice it or…? I need answers for this burning question.
Okay, but how did all that fit into six novels and two novella collections? I just… don’t know. So much happened during this series that I feel like it can’t possibly have only been eight books, but it has. It feels like I’ve been with these characters going through their plot lines for literal years, though I only just started reading the series… last month, was it?
At the same time, I almost feel like this six book series could have been split into two consecutive trilogies? Just because of the way the plot changed while still flowing and keeping many of the same characters. I think this might have some to do with why it feels like I’ve been with the story forever. The combination of this series and the prequel series, The Infernal Devices, gives me a similar feeling to the one I got after reading all 12 of the Kushiel and Naamah books by Jacqueline Carey. I love that feeling so I’m glad I took my friend’s advice and read the prequel series before diving into The Mortal Instruments.
Trying to think on the plot of this series in its entirety is a bit overwhelming and I feel like I could rant about it forever without actually having any organization to the post so I think I’ll let it go here by just saying the plot flowed really, really well through just about the entire series. There was no jarring stop and start, but rather it flowed like waves on water. In short: I liked the story itself and I couldn’t put the series down.
I didn’t listen to the entire series on audiobook, but I did listen to some of it. Similar to The Infernal Devices, this series has a plethora of different narrators. While they are all quite skilled at their profession, I found the constant changing of narrators quite irritating. Also, could you please have a conversation with the narrators before they start recording about how things are pronounced? Between names, phrases, and shadowhunter tools, everything gets a new pronunciation depending upon which person is narrating and it drives me up the wall! Can we just at least agree that, at the least, the name pronunciations should be consistent. Please. Ffs.
I honestly really, really loved this series so much and I will probably reread it at some point. The characters, world, and story have wormed their way into my black and frozen heart. The Shadow World honestly just feels like home. I can not wait to jump into the next series from Cassandra Clare, The Dark Artifices, even though I know it won’t be complete until later this year. Usually, I would add Goodreads links here but since I didn’t write individual reviews on this series (I read them way faster than I could review this time) I put the links at the top of the post instead.
Have you read The Mortal Instruments series? Or another Cassandra Clare book or series? Let me know what you thought down in the comments section!