City of Heavenly Fire
By: Cassandra Clare
Book #6 in The Mortal Instruments series
Content Warnings: Violence, blood, death, captivity, incestual themes, sexual harassment, abandonment, drugging, discrimination
City of Heavenly Fire takes you on a quest with five of the heroes in a last-ditch attempt to find and defeat Sebastian. Hmm. Why isn’t one more character added on the team to mark this book being the sixth and final installment of the series? It might have something to do with Sebastian stealing something precious from each and every character hunting him down.
I may have gotten ahead of myself though. Honestly, the prologue threw me off a bit because it introduced an assembly of new characters. I had to make sure I picked up the correct Shadowhunter book! That didn’t stop my heart from aching though as the opening scene set the stage for a grim and tragic story. Eventually I grew to love two new additions to the cast, best buddies Emma and Julian. They’re absolutely adorable as a team and complex and interesting characters on their own!
Alright. Now let’s get back to our “teen team.”
The sense of loss is palpable as Jace, Clary, Isabelle, Alex, and Simon team up and traverse lands uncharted by those with love burning in their veins. It’s an all-out war that involves Sebastian inflicting heavy casualties upon the Shadowhunters and then retreating to his demonic throne. It put me on edge because Sebastian was gaining more and more momentum with his guerilla-like warfare and his divide and conquer tactics. I sensed wherever he struck next would devastate hearts and morale, and that no one was truly safe.
The story affected me because the conflict is more on a personal level, what with the focus on loved ones being torn apart from each other. This is probably because the events are personal to Sebastian. I think he resents being different from Shadowhunters because of his differences in blood. Creating a demonic race of fighters gave him a sense of belonging he otherwise never had.
I’ll never be over the horrendous acts Sebastian committed, but sometimes I couldn’t help but feel empathetic towards his history. His father infused demon blood in him, and then both hate and vengeance by isolating him from others. His mother considered killing him in the crib while struggling to see the possibility of nurturing the good in him through love and commitment. In short, I haven’t had such mixed feelings towards a character in a while.
I continued like this in a dizzying haze up to the conclusion. The end of the fighting, which actually made me a bit teary-eyed, foreshadows the Shadowhunters having won the battle and not the war. I like that Clare showed how cycles of violence continue through fear and discrimination. A suitable topic she counters with moments of love and empathy.
I started this series wanting to catch up on some of the popular books everyone talks about, but didn’t realize what a commitment it would be! This story has definitely had its ups and downs to me, but I enjoyed it overall. I’m looking forward to venturing further into the Shadowhunter world some time in the future.
More Musings & Magic
I absolutely loved Clare’s depiction of the Fae throughout the series, especially in this last installment! They remind me of the political intrigue in Holly Black’s Elfhame. They’re cunning and patient when it comes to achieving their goals. Any scene featuring one of them sent a shiver up my spine because of their trickster ways.
Please keep the magic alive and share your comments below!