It has been a long road to this ending. I picked up the first book of The Mortal Instruments series about six years ago, which honestly feels like a lifetime ago. All that time anticipation was building to an epic finale. At first, we thought we had that finale with City of Glass, the third book of the series. However, Clare extended the series to six books and continued Jace and Clary adventure.
City of Heavenly Fire begins quite unexpectedly with a lengthy yet absolutely absorbing prologue. We meet Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorns, the resident shadowhunters of the Los Angeles Institute. Wait, did I get The Dark Artifices, the next shadowhunter trilogy, way early instead? Nope, Cassandra Clare brilliantly blended an introduction to a whole new set of characters in this finale. Clare showed a flair for writing about younger characters; I adored Emma and the Blackthorns instantly. I love those kids and loved that they were a prominent part of this particular book. It provided a fine hook for anyone who wasn’t too sure they’d venture into another shadowhunter series.
Back to Clary and the gang, their story begins interestingly but slows down and becomes a little static later on. Those shadowhunters just LOVE talking things out all the time. While there was a good amount of action, it’s frustrating when stubborn personalities get in the way of the plot progression. Eventually, we do get to the end, and well, it manages to be mostly disappointing. A certain character, who is one of my favorites and the most developed characters in the series, meets–not death–but a sad fate of sorts. However, the situation gets slightly rectified by the epilogue (and even more so when Cassandra Clare announced that she will be writing a new series of short stories–a la Bane Chronicles–that will include said character).
The unsatisfying ending does leave a bitter taste, but before that, I was enjoying the story, mainly because of the narrators: Sophie Turner and Jason Dohring. Turner has such a lush and unique voice, on top of being a wonderful actress. She nailed the right tones and accents that made her standout voice seamless throughout the audiobook. Dohring impressed me with his tones, especially his sinister accent as Sebastian. He, along with Turner, brought these characters more to life than even the movie did, which is totally saying something.
Another thing I appreciated is how the other series in the Shadowhunter universe are so tightly weaved together. By reading The Infernal Devices and The Bane Chronicles, there is an extra dimension to CoHF, which in turn makes some parts very fascinating.
The beautiful ways Clare ended Clockwork Princess and City of Glass created exceedingly high expectations for City of Heavenly Fire. CoHF at points does reach those expectations, but as a whole, it felt like something was missing. Like this story isn’t completely over. Sure, we know it isn’t really over, since other series are in the works. Yet I wanted something with more finality for Clary and Jace. I was left feeling, “Oh, that’s it?”
I’ve been asked throughout the years if The Mortal Instruments is worth reading. My answers always changed with each book because my love/hate relationship with this series thrives (I strongly disliked City of Lost Souls). Now that I’m at the end, it’s pointing more toward love than hate.
If you’re going to experience The Mortal Instruments, do it with the audiobooks. The narrators and production value on these books are top notch, and listening truly ends up being much more entertaining than reading the series.
City of Heavenly Fire rating: 8/10
The Mortal Instruments series rating: 7/10
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare is now available wherever audiobooks are sold. Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook below.
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Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio (May 2014)
Length: Approx. 21 hours
Series: The Mortal Instruments – Book 6
Source: Unabridged Audiobook (Provided by publisher)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Completed: June 2014