City of Ashes is the second in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, so there are spoilers ahead. I’d say consider yourself warned, but honestly I’m probably doing you a favor here anyway.
We pick up shortly after the events of the first book, Valentine has escaped and Jace is now under suspicion of being in cahoots with him. Jace is to face The Inquisitor to prove or disprove his innonence, while suddenly important magical items go missing and several downworlders have been attacked or murdered. The group soon finds out that Valentine is responsible for all of these events and is attempting to create a demon army in order to basically take over the world.
Sigh. This book. I wanted to like this book. Clare took a few steps in the right direction by splitting up her narrative between different characters, probably in hopes that we would forget how damn boring Clary is. The events in the first few chapters were actually pretty cool and kind of twisted, and I allowed my hopes to raise up a little bit. Well, that was pretty much all for nothing because Jace continues to be arrogant and perfect, Clary perfect and boring, and Simon is still just plain old annoying. There’s a big chunk in the middle where not a whole hell of a lot happens and there are some extremely clunky and obvious HEY THIS IS A HINT I BET WE HEAR ABOUT THIS LATER moments. Among them, the fact that Clary and Jace probably aren’t related (because of course they’re not, my reaction to that revelation in the first one was “bullshiiiiiiit!”). Another thing that bugged: no one ever freakin dies. Listen, I don’t need my characters lined up for slaughter but when you have a huge battle and are epically outnumbered, the only logical conclusion is that someone fucking dies, alright?! Ahem, sorry. Anyways, that only serves to take all the tension out of the story because you know damned well that everyone is magically going to be ok (sometimes literally).
I will probably read the third book (which was originally the end to the series, then a few more got tacked on) because I’m a masochist and want to know what happens anyway, but after that I’m done. If you need a light, not-too-hard-on-the-brain read, this is definitely a serviceable series, but it’s not anything I’ll be raving about anytime soon.