City of Ashes is the second installment of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments Trilogy. Action-packed and fast-moving right from the beginning, it doesn’t give you the usual, expected time to get used to your surroundings before it gets going. Taking up where City of Bones left off, Clary’s mother is still in a coma, Valentine is still evil, and Jace is still complete snarkiness.
The majority of the Shadowhunters believe Jace is in cahoots with Valentine, and that he knows why Valentine stole the Mortal Cup; the Inquisitor of the Clave has arrived and is trying to get to the bottom of the mess. Clary is attempting to help Jace as well as attempting to keep her loved ones safe, which isn’t always easy when you’ve just discovered that werewolves, vampires, warlocks, fairies and demons are all real, and that you’re really a Shadowhunter. And of course, there is Valentine who is still on the loose and is attempting to raise an army of demons in order to destroy the Clave.
I enjoyed City of Ashes more than City of Bones – Clare’s writing has definitely improved since the first book in the trilogy, which makes me even more excited to see how much better the third one will be. That said, you can still see how this is very much written by the same person who wrote The Draco Trilogy (Harry Potter fanfic that is, as far as I am aware, no longer available online). There are certain elements that are the same in everything she writes – mainly, the snarky blonde, and at least one pair of leather (or leather-like) pants. And her humour is still very much the same; I spent the majority of my time reading this book giggling, even when it started getting intense because of the wit and sarcasm of certain characters.
Though it wasn’t a major part of the plot, I have to say that I much more prefer Clare’s werewolf-vampire dynamics to Stephanie Meyer’s. Maybe because the werewolf and vampires are not vying for the same girl in this case, and for that reason are SO MUCH less angst-ridden. It’s a very nice change.
My biggest disappointment with this book was that there were no major twists. I had kept hoping for something to throw me, like the Clary-Jace bit did in the first installment, but it wasn’t there. It felt like Clare was playing it safe this time around. I hope that’s not the case with the last book in the trilogy.