Cassandra Clare,
The Mortal Instruments #3: City of Glass
(Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009)

Clary Fray has family problems. Over the past few weeks, Clary's family has expanded to include more than just Clary and her mother. And with a larger family comes more challenges: Clary's newly-introduced father Valentine is a renegade Shadowhunter with a revolutionary bent. Valentine has kidnapped Clary's mother and is holding her in a magically-induced coma. Clary has also discovered she has a brother -- a fact that does not make either her or her brother happy. And to top it all off, her best friend's been turned into a vampire.

On the upside, she has finally discovered her place among her fellow Shadowhunters. Clary has a talent with Marks, runes that reinforce Shadowhunters' power. Will she be able to use her gift to save her mom? Or to save the world, for that matter?

Because Valentine has his eye on the third Mortal Instrument, and with the Mirror in his collection, he will be able to create a demon army to take over the world of the Shadowhunters. And maybe the world, period.

In City of Glass, Cassandra Clare once again blends creatures from mythology and religion to create a world that is familiar without being stale. By taking a step back from the softer, sweeter creatures currently embraced in much of urban fantasy, Clare is able to create a world with a slightly harder, sharper edge.

The action of this book moves from the familiar world of New York to Alicante, the ancestral home of Shadowhunters. Once in the City of Glass, the action takes on a decidedly more political angle -- an unusual choice for a young-adult book. The characters come to realize that Valentine's actions are threatening in more than just the ordinary life-threatening way. He also plans to unseat the current government and replace it with one of his design. The teen dream-team gets a close-up look at politics and begins to understand that sometimes, politicians are motivated by their need to survive rather than by the needs of the people. This little real-world civics lesson is an interesting twist in an already interesting series.

My one complaint is that the ending seems a little too pat, a little too neat. I like stories that have a stronger sense of karmic balance. The ultimate battle for world domination should demand a sacrifice. The sacrifice that is offered seems minor, or an afterthought perhaps. Because the character who is lost had not been woven strongly into all three of the books, the sacrifice seems trivialized, as does that character. In a way, it seems he was introduced to be the sacrificial lamb.

Originally, City of Glass was to have been the final in the Mortal Instruments series. However, in August, Cassandra Clare announced on her website that there will be an additional book, City of Fallen Angels. Slated for release in March 2011, the book will follow Simon as he adjusts to his new life as a vampire.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Belinda Christ

19 December 2009

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