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City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments, Book One

Review

City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments, Book One

Under the sparkling steel and neon lights of Manhattan, a race of ethereal warriors called Shadowhunters fights malicious demons. Artist Clary Fray is blissfully ignorant of the existence of Shadowhunters until one dry-ice hazy night at the Pandemonium Club when she sees Draco Malfoyesque Jace Wayland pull a knife on a demon disguised as a blue-haired boy. When she follows Jace out of the pulsating club and into a scene of supernatural murder, his partners in otherworldly crimefighting are surprised to learn that she, a Mundane, can see them. Mundanes, or everyday folk, aren't supposed to be able to see the preternaturally swift Shadowhunters.  

Clary is ready to ignore the murderous incident until Jace shows up at a coffee shop she's visiting with her best friend, the almost witty, slightly bumbling Simon. Jace won't forget Clary's remarkable vision, and while he's explaining the basics of his paranormal underground existence, Clary receives a disturbing phone call from her mother. She races home to find her artisan's apartment trashed, her beloved (if sometimes antagonistic) mother missing and a scaly, fanged demon in her hallway.   With the carefully dispersed, often frustrating knowledge imparted to her by Jace, his tutor Hodge and his snooty fellow Shadowhunters, Alec and Isabelle, Clary finds that she has a Shadowhunter legacy through her mother, Jocelyn. 

Knowing she cannot go back to her demolished, demon-infested apartment, Clary stays in the underground home of the Clave. The Shadowhunters are part of a diverse and complex world of beings that most earthbound Mundanes have only heard about in fairy tales. By legend, the Shadowhunter race is over one-thousand years old, and a magical cup was used at one point to create Shadowhunters out of humans. The magical cup is missing, and Clary believes that her mother's disappearance is tied to it.

Amid the dry lessons in Shadowhunter politics and history, Clary continues to look for her mother. Her search takes her to a party hosted by a blue-lipped man with glitter nail polish, abandoned hotels and houses, and the apartment of her downstairs neighbor, a tea-serving, scarf-clad psychic with knowledge of the Shadowhunters. In the end, Clary's tireless search will reveal much more to her than just her mother's history. 

It helps if you're already familiar with the world of werewolves and demons before jumping into this whirlwind urban fantasy, because author Cassandra Clare draws on many different legends and tales while building Clary's New York. Although the book often gets dragged down in too many lurid adjectives and uneven pacing, the story of an underground world of demon hunters is appealing and unique. If you like theatrical, fey dialogue, a little humor with your action and many references to familiar fantasy stories, then CITY OF BONES --- and the subsequent installments in this new series --- may be the perfect fit for you.

Reviewed by Carlie Webber on March 27, 2007

City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments, Book One
by Cassandra Clare

  • Publication Date: July 9, 2013
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • ISBN-10: 1442485388
  • ISBN-13: 9781442485389