What are the Mortal Instruments? Why, they are fantastic implements that become necessary to the existence of the world populated by Shadowhunters, Downworlders, and Mundanes. Wow, and you thought Muggles were interesting enough. Welcome to the sordid world of Clary Fray and Jace Wayland, the two erstwhile lovers who can’t seem to get together while also battling demons and others who wish to take over the world.
Cassandra Clare delves into that and much more in the first book in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones. It can be confusing at times because as a reader you have to learn a completely new lexicon and the people who embody each part of the code. There’s the bad guy — Valentine — the damsel in distress — Jocelyn — the boy caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time — Simon — and the warlock who just can’t help getting mixed up in it all, for the sake of love — Magnus. These characters are polarizing, every single one, which makes for a fantastic reading experience.
You know the types of books that make you talk back to the characters as if they’re the children and you’re the parent who knows best for them? This is one of those books, and indeed the entire series can be defined in this way. Each character is given an extensive back story, and then left to his/her own devices, and the interactions between them makes for high drams, particularly when there are misunderstandings (and there are quite a few along the way).
For starters, Shadowhunters have magic that they utilize though steles (instruments that draw runes on their skin). They can be invisible, get more powerful, and heal themselves, along with a host of other amazing possibilities. Clary has lived her whole life ignorant of this whole other world, but things are starting to clarify themselves to her one night at a club when she sees the hidden world for the first time. The rest of the book is basically one revelation after another, not the least of which is who her true parents were, and why she’s been hidden from this world for so long.
Oh yes, and the quest for the Mortal Cup, a dangerous but significant artifact in the Shadowhunter world. The evil Valentine wants it, so the good Shadowhunters must get their hands on it before he does, and save Jocelyn from his clutches as well. But things don’t go as planned and they have to adjust their mission more than once along the way. It all sets up for a showdown at the end of the book that you don’t want to miss.
If there’s any negatives about the book for me it’s the length. Clocking in at a whopping 503 pages, quite a bit of it is going in-depth in many avenues that simply aren’t necessary to understand the plot. I’ve read every single book in the series, and even after reading those I still don’t see the need for most of the filler in this book. That’s not to say that those parts aren’t well-written (they are). They just don’t add anything to the plot, and can generally be skipped by all but the hardiest of fans. That being said, the book shines through its interactions.
And the City of Bones is an enchanting place, even if it is cold and impersonal. It drew me in during the very small amount of time we actually spend there with the characters. If I had something I would change, it would be the time spent in this place. After all, it is the title of the book. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys alternate realities, and creatures like vampires, werewolves, and other magical sorts. It won’t disappoint.
I give the novel FOUR AND A HALF stars.