Soon to be 16-year-old Clarissa Fray is a teenager who doesn't always follow the rules, likes to go to a club called Pandemonium where kids dress in strange goth like outfits and spike their rainbow colored hair, and routinely goes against her mothers wishes. Normal teenager right? Clary was a normal teenager until she starts seeing things that others, including her best friend Simon, cannot. While at Pandemonium one night she witnesses two guys and a girl murder another guy. The problem is that normal people don't bleed black blood and just disappear when they die. But this guy did. Turns out he was not just a guy, he was a demon. Alec, Isabelle and Jace are all teenage shadowhunters. They hunt demons. They also occasionally take care of vampires, werewolves or other things like that when they get out of hand. They all live under the law of a secret organization called The Clave. In their world The Clave is in no way a secret, but no one knows about it who is a regular old human; what they call a mundane.
The night Clary went to Pandemonium with Simon was the night when everything changed. She learned of a world she never thought existed, thanks to her mother's insistence that none of it was real. Then Clary's mother is taken. When Clary returns to her and her mother's apartment, she is attacked by a demon. "Silence answered her. No, not silence-a noise sounded through the apartment, raising the short hairs along the nape of her neck. Like something being knocked over- a heavy object striking the floor with a dull thud. The thud was followed by a dragging, slithering noise- and it was coming toward the bedroom. Stomach contracting in terror, Clary scrambled to her feet and turned around slowly..." Somehow using the sensor she had taken from Jace, Clary kills the demon. Jace is convinced Clary is no mundane and he is proven right when he is forced to mark her with a rune to keep her hidden. She must have shadowhunter blood. Otherwise she probably would have went insane. Because of the wound Clary received from the demon, Jace is forced to take her to the Institute where he and the others live. There she is healed by Hodge who tutors the young shadowhunters and helps take care of them. While at the Institute, Clary heals and learns more about shadowhunters. She is determined to find her mother if she is still alive. In order to do that they think they will need what's called the Immortal Cup. It was where the first shadowhunters came from. Clary is the only one who can find it. Her mother hid it well in a surprise location so very close to home. But as they find the cup, they also find another demon. One that is far worse than the last and Alec almost dies. As if things cannot get any worse, Clary's long lost, maniacal father, Valentine (who later you find out in the book is also someone else's father as well), shows up and takes the cup. Clary never knew her father was still alive. Her mother had kept the shadowhunter world a complete secret from her. Her mother had been a shadowhunter and her friend Luke, who comes around quite a bit, was a shadowhunter until turned into a werewolf. Things get very complicated for young Clary and she needs to find her very dangerous father to find her mother.
" There were some memories, though, that never faded. Images burst like flashbulbs behind his lids when he closed his eyes. Blood and bodies, trampled earth, a white podium stained with red. The cries of the dying." (Hodge's memories)
Clary Fray may be a very courageous character in this story but she is also a young and very reckless one. I cannot decide whether she is very lucky or very unlucky. She falls in love with Jace, the best shadowhunter his age. And puts their lives, as well as those of Alec and Isabelle in danger because she doesn't always think things through. Because she has so little knowledge of this new world she has no idea what type of consequences will come of her actions. Jace is so enamored and in love with her that everyone else but Clary notices. He will do anything for Clary. Once he was so close to Alec, and now it is Clary. Alec is secretly in love with Jace and Jace has no clue. But Clary starts to see that soon enough. Alec acts like he hates her and that he has something to prove. "...where Isabelle was all arrogance, Alec slumped down in the chair as if he hoped nobody would notice him." Perhaps he has something to prove more to himself than anyone else. Isabelle is just Isabelle. Flamboyant. Beautiful. Guys fall all over her. Clary wishes she was more like her. And Jace likes her the way she is. His thoughts are "she doesn't know she is beautiful". Simon is Clary's best friend who, of course, is also in love with her. He has been forever. But he also likes Isabelle and she likes him too. It is one tangled mess of love triangles and a very unexpected possible love interest for Alec. Teenagers that, although they act like they are so sure of themselves, are just trying to figure out what life is all about like all others their age. They just have to deal with things no one else does. Death is a part of the shadowhunter life. They are not expected to have a long life span. A hazard of the job.
My favorite part of the book is definitely the garden scene. Jace takes Clary up to the greenhouse to wish her a secret happy birthday. It was her 16th birthday and there had been nothing special for her. In a rare moment you finally get to see that as hard Jace seems to be, he also has a sweet side too. Clary seems to bring out a better side to Jace. It is a little romantic and for a second Clary forgets all of her problems. For just a second in time she is happy.
The descent beckons
as the ascent beckoned.
-William Carlos Williams, The Descent
Look for Mortal Instruments: City of Bones in theaters August 23rd, 2013!
*images via Cassandra Clare
*quotes via Cassandra Clare