If you’re not familiar with Cassandra Clare, fanfiction-author turned YA novelist, or the Mortal Instruments series, I suggest that you remedy that as soon as possible. Pick of “City of Bones” and settle in for demons, magic, good vs. evil, and, of course, a heaping dose of forbidden romance. Then come back and read this review.
“City of Lost Souls” is the fifth novel in the Mortal Instruments series, and it was such a relief after the (unnecessary) drama of “City of Fallen Angels.” The pacing was much better than usual, with a nice balance between action and calm or funny moments- something this author has struggled with in the past.
The story opens with the disappearance of Jace and Sebastian after Lilith’s evil ceremony. The Clave is in an uproar; not over Jace, but over Mr-I’m-so-evil-I-probably-hate-kittens, presumed-dead-but-apparently-not, Sebastian. What does he want? What will he do to carry on his evil father’s legacy of evil?
Soon, though, the Clave has bigger things to worry about, and our heroes must find Jace on their own. When they do, they also discover that Jace has been soul-bound to Sebastian against his will; whatever Sebastian thinks, Jace will think, and whatever Sebastian wants, Jace will do. And just in case you forgot, Sebastian is Evil McEvilpants. Poor Jace. If it’s not thing with him, it’s another, which is apparently what he gets for being the male love interest.
I felt like a lot of characters came into their own (FINALLY) in this novel. Clary has no doubts about her ability to save Jace, and it was such a great development to see them interact without a lot of dithering or wibbling. Admittedly, it’s a little bit pathetic that the healthiest part of their relationship took place while Jace was under an evil spell, but, whatever. Clary’s never been a weak character, but I was happy to see her take action without second-guessing herself. I was absolutely thrilled to see positive growth between Isabelle & Simon, and Jordan & Maia. On the one hand, the plot’s getting a little clogged with characters. On the other, at least all those characters aren’t miserable. Alec and Magnus, though, struggle here. As their relationship grows more serious, Magnus’ immortality becomes an obstacle. The way that Alec chooses to deal with it is…well, stupid and teenager-y and believable, more’s the pity.
And then there’s My-Soul-is-as-Black-as-My-Eyes, Sebastian. What to do with you, Sebastian? I hated him in the previous novels, but the author finally succeeds in making him a (teeny) bit sympathetic here. Is it his fault that his father infused him with demon blood when he was just a baby? No. Did he have parents who loved him, who stood by him and tried to help him? Definitely no. But at the same time, he’s just so evil-with-a-side-of-smarmyness. In “City of Lost Souls” we finally see Sebastian partaking in some activities that aren’t completely filled with evil. The scenes between Sebastian, Jace, and Clary are probably the highlight of the novel, especially towards the end. I almost wanted them to go on having their little group of not-as-evil-as-possible, fighting demons and eating breakfast and going to fairy raves. Alas, ’twas not to be. I’m not sure where the author can go with Sebastian in the next novel. I’d hate to see him get killed off, but I feel like it would be a cop-out if he were to be somehow redeemed.
There’s plenty of time before the next novel comes out, so go out, read the first five, and let me know what you think!