Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

The Mortal Instruments

City-Of-Bones-BookGuest poster Holly brings us up to speed on yet another teen / YA fiction phenomenon that blends fantasy, high schools, screaming and casual wear cover art. In the marketing at least, Buffy has a lot to answer for. Just don’t mention Twilight

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare was first published in 2007 and since then four more novels have been added to the series. The sixth novel will be released in May. The series is hugely popular with teens and young adults, and a film adaptation of City of Bones was released in August 2013. Its large fan base are looking forward enthusiastically to the film of City of Ashes (the second in the series) which goes into production this year.

The world of The Mortal Instruments has often been compared to the wizarding world of Harry Potter, due to the similar setting of a supernatural world hidden in plain sight. Whereas in J K Rowling’s universe witches and wizards are hidden from Muggles, in Cassandra Clare’s world the elite race of Shadowhunters and with their magical (both good and evil) associates are hidden from the Mundanes. It has to be said that there are links with this series and pretty much any fantasy world in fiction: The Mortal Instruments shares the dimension changes in time used in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, for example.

cityglassClary is the series’ red-headed protagonist who gets swept up into the world of the Shadowhunters. They don’t fight shadows, but the shape-shifting demons who have managed to escape their own dimensions in order to wreak havoc in the Mundane world.  A predictably romantic plotline starts the series, but, as it continues, hair-raising twists throw the reader’s preconceived ideas about the characters completely out.

However romance is by no means the main theme: the theme of family produces the strongest plotlines. It’s proved over and over again in each novel that a familial bond is one of the strongest a person can have, whether or not they fight on your side or not.

city-of-fallen-angels-1For the fans of heavily sarcastic characters with an impeccable sense of humour, look no further than Simon. As Clary’s best friend he’s dragged into her new world of adrenaline and danger without warning, and frankly deals with it surprisingly well. He’s the comedic relief to the romance and is very capable of making the reader laugh out loud. If Simon isn’t one of your favourite characters, then you’re reading the series wrong.

Once you are addicted to The Mortal Instruments you can to visit your bookshop again because Cassandra Clare has written a prequel series called The Infernal Devices, based in Victorian London rather than in present-day New York. Both series are perfect for those who enjoy supernatural fantasy with an urban twist.

Cassandra Clare, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2007), City of Ashes (2008), City of Glass (2009), City of Fallen Angels (2011), City of Lost Souls (2012), and City of Heavenly Fire (2014)

Holly has a lot of fat YA fantasy novels on her bookshelf, and an R2D2 backpack.

3 comments on “The Mortal Instruments

  1. Jackie
    April 1, 2014

    There’s a lot of variety in YA fiction these days, even within genres. I like that a red haired guy is the main character and Simon seems like he would add some comic relief. While I’m waaay too wimpy to read this series, for those who are fans, I would think they’d appreciate multiple books with the same characters. I hate when I get caught up in a story and it end in a single book, so often I want more.
    I was a little nervous to read about these books, but you did a good job of explaining them without making it scary. Thanks!
    P.S. R2D2 is my favorite Star Wars character.

  2. Hilary
    April 1, 2014

    Loving the idea of a ‘heavily sarcastic character with a great sense of humour’. Every novel needs one!

  3. Rebecca
    April 15, 2014

    I’ve always passed these books over…I think it was irrationally due to the similarity in the title to both the ‘Mortal Engines’ series and the ‘Stravaganza, City of…’ books, both of which I quite like. From this review it sounds like they’re quite different, but still not something I’d read. Although, ‘Infernal Devices’ does sound like it could be interesting. I really enjoyed ‘Leviathan’ by Scott Westerfield, but that was probably the last ‘teen’ book I read that didn’t make me lose interest half-way through.

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