Spoilers for City of Fallen Angels and City of Glass abound. Read at your own risk.
When I read City of Glass, it seemed the stunning conclusion to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series; I never expected City of Fallen Angels. Hearing of a 4th book, I was a little hesitant. What was left but to tangle their poor happy love lives?
Simon is two-timing with Isabelle and Maia. Clary and Jace, finally relieved from their supposed sibling relationship, passionately embrace and kiss frequently, despite Jace’s attempts to stay away.
Having seen Jace and Clary together, I think that a lot of the tension of the previous 3 Mortal Instruments books came from their forbidden love. Clare recognized this too, I think, and was sure to complicate matters, possibly beyond reconciliation (though I might have just thought of one possible resolution), at the end of this book.
Too, NYC seems like a letdown descriptively now that we’ve been to Alicante. But Clare has beautifully painted NYC before. I wonder if writing in Mexico did not backfire on Clare, if she could not describe what she couldn’t see with such clarity as has before impressed me.
The book suffered too from a severance from the politics of the Clave, which had been so central to previous books. I love seeing the workings of fictional governments.
There are several “saving graces” in City of Fallen Angels:
- The Mark of Cain: It’s always interesting to fill in the gaps of the Biblical narrative. The Mortal Instruments series does so finely.
- Praetor Lupus: I’m highly intrigued by this secretive society of Downworlder protectors. Unfortunately, the group did not play a large role, but I look forward to learning more. Please take note, Miss Clare.
- The resolution of (most) of the romantic problems: I’m a sucker for happy endings. Finally, everyone is with whom they should be (I hope)!
- The cliffhanger ending: Oh no! One? They can’t be. Jace can’t be.
The action finally picks up in near the end of this book. The tightly woven tapestry of Clare’s writing that I have always admired seemed absent for most of the book as no one had yet made fabric of all the threads. Perhaps, I ought to have assumed a connection between Simon’s hunters and Jace’s dreams, but I did not, and could not have guessed at the connection as it was eventually revealed. Something needed to have been said earlier of demons being able to infiltrate Shadowhunters’ dreams. If I had known that, I might have seen the thread and might have walked the maze with less hesitancy.
One more gripe: This story is incomplete. Such emphasis is put on Stephen’s hunting dagger that the absence of its story seems like a hole in the plot. I hope that too returns later.
Overall, book 4 is a bridge; it almost had be; with Valentine and “Sebastian” dead, The Mortal Instruments was problem-less. My recommendation? Wait for book 5. Then read the 4 and 5 together. I’m sure 5 will be better.
Clare, Cassandra. The Mortal Instruments, Book Four: City of Fallen Angels. New York: Margaret K. McElderry-Simon & Schuster, 2011.
This review is not endorsed by Cassandra Clare, Margaret K. McElderry Books, or Simon & Schuster. It is an independent, honest review by a reader.