The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: young adult, fantasy, action/adventure
When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons-and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…
“We are sometimes called the Nephilim. In the Bible they were the offspring of humans and angels.”
From the very first chapter, Clary is transported into a world within a world, unprepared and unaware of her role in it. Seeing people no one else can, shimmering edges of fantastical beasts, and recollections of events she swears she never experienced. Her life is turned upside down when her mother is taken away, and it takes an allegiance with the half-angels Jace, Isabelle, and Alec to find her. It’s an unstable allegiance, especially when she discovers that the man who took Clary’s mother could be holding her ransom for something far more important: the Mortal Cup.
Clare’s skills lie in the perfect balance of action-packed scenes and soft, endearing moments between the characters. There is something for every reader: the descriptions of the Shadowhunter world, where faeries and demons and vampires walk among humans — mundanes, as Shadowhunters call them — where characters range from flamboyant to shy to menacing to empathetic. There is so much action that every character is at risk of death, so much plot that there’s a twist at every turn, and stolen moments of love and heartbreak, just enough to leave the reader wanting more from all the tension and unspoken words. It’s brilliant, this world of half-angels, this world Clare has created. The Mortal Instruments is a series I would highly recommend to anyone! [Sidenote plug: my favorite Shadowhunter series is The Infernal Devices, set in Victorian England and can be read as a prequel or entirely separately from The Mortal Instruments.]
Clary is an artistic girl, easily accepting of strange and beautiful things. She sees the world through an artist’s eye, which can explain her quick (yet hesitant) understanding of the Shadowhunter world. She’s eager to learn from Jace, an honest and witty Shadowhunter determined to defend as well as expose Clary to the world he knows. Alec and Isabelle, siblings, are wary of Clary’s involvement with their schemes, but they understand her part in their world and aim to teach her to become one of them. Left in the shadows, sometimes forgotten, is Clary’s mundane friend Simon, accidentally stumbling along in the adventures and trying desperately to make Clary leave the Shadowhunters and come back to a normal life.
However, this book is intentionally left as a cliffhanger. It is purely an introduction to the society and politics that Clary will be exposed to in future books. It is about discovery, learning the truth about individuals, finding out who one’s true family is, the shattering of an old world and learning to embrace a new one, accepting the oddness of glamours and monsters from tales walking among humans. All of this is meant to entice the reader to pick up the next book, City of Ashes. In a plot arc, this is simply the rising action. And what a ride of a rising action is was!