Thalia @ Pictures in the Words

I'm Thalia! I run a book blog called Pictures in the Words and I hope to be an editor for YA fiction. I'm a GoodReads refugee!



Currently Reading

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Andy Weir
Progress: 31/369 pages
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City of Heavenly Fire (Review)

City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare

This is, unfortunately, one of the most disappoint four-star reviews I’ve given.


The thing about Cassandra Clare’s books, for me, is that there’s no question that they will be well written or that I will enjoy the characters. It all comes down to the plot’s execution and the emotion it invokes within me—that determines everything in her books for me. And while I consider this a four-star book compared to my general standards, it was one of the more disappointing works from Clare, and a poor finale to a series I loved so dearly.


Long story short, I expected more. I expected emotion, I expected climax, I expected to feel something magnificent. I really wish I could better explain how much I loved the first three books in this series, how they affected me right down to my core, so I could more specifically convey how utterly disappointing this particular installment was. However, as far as books go, it was well written and plenty engaging. I generally enjoyed it, and would have judged it less harshly if I hadn’t had such high expectations.


What I Liked: Spoilers!

  • The plot about Sebastian is incredibly compelling. It was, actually, the only thing I truly enjoyed about the story of these last three books. He is a twisted and interesting—I always wanted to know more about him and his motivations. I know we were “supposed” to hate him for the way he is, but I found him so utterly tragic that I almost couldn’t hate him because it was just too sad. He was evil, but there was a reason to it. I’m not ashamed to admit that when Clary cut the evil out of Sebastian with the heavenly fire and he was only who he would have been without the demon blood, I definitely cried. It was the most heartbreaking thing this series has introduced since the original trilogy. Sebastian’s character has the remnants of what I loved about Clare’s books in the first place—something we’re supposed to rebel against and despise, but written in such a way that you at least understand it. If it weren’t for Sebastian, I would have thought this whole thing was utterly pointless.


  • I really do like Clare’s writing. It fleshed out, it’s funny without being awkward, and the characters are intriguing. The twists the story takes almost always keeps me guessing, though I suppose that’s less true now than it was before. However, I think her style is better than most YA authors now, and I’ll always enjoy her books at their core just for that alone. This installment was no exception. I loved reading it, just because the words were wonderful, and honestly, it’s just a bonus when everything else happens to work out, too. The writing is most important thing, and I think Clare has it nailed.


What I Didn’t Like:

  • I had this same complaint about Clockwork Princess. It was just so choppy; it seemed more like reading a series of one shots/shorts than a novel that was put together. Nothing just…happened. Twenty pages from so and so’s point of view, twenty from someone else, and on and on. It lacked cohesion of any kind, except for the “grand scheme” plot. A bunch of individual stories existing in one universe on the same timeline, but completely unconnected except for that. It really got to me while I was reading this, because I kept getting pulled out of the moment and transferred to someone else’s thoughts and feelings—it was too jolting, too often.


  • In addition, there was also the same hundred-and-fifty page resolution that we saw in Clockwork Princess as well. A gazillion mini-resolutions between every few characters you could possibly imagine. Everything was wrapped up perfectly, bow and all. Besides the Sebastian story, the most emotional, gut-wrenching part of the book was Simon losing his memories. I know it was kind of out of left field, and it was sort of begging to be dramatic, but it struck a chord with me. But, for some reason, we couldn’t just leave the ending open and unresolved—with an air of sadness that you just can’t erase. I used to like Clare’s books because they weren’t happy for everyone at the end. There was always something that lurked behind, something that reminded you that you don’t always get a happy ending the way you want. Nope—Simon was brought back. He was introduced to the Shadow World again. He started to regain his memories. And I know it was supposed to make me happy, but it didn’t—it just made me wonder why this series, out of them all, had to conform to the idea that everything needs to be perfect at the end. It’s not what I wanted, nor what I expected. And the never-ending resolution along with that really upset me.


Overall: Yes, this was a good book, as far as books go. But in comparison to Clare’s other work, it definitely ended up being a weak link. I stayed engaged right up until the end, when the climax passed too quickly and too easily, and the resolution seemed to drag on for years. If you’re looking to finish the series, you definitely should. But I wouldn’t recommend this series based on this book; not at all. It wasn’t what I hoped it would be, and definitely didn’t seem to be part of the same series I fell in love with years ago—the series that brought me to book reviewing in the first place. I guess the whole thing is a little bittersweet for me. As a last note, there is a sex scene in this book—it doesn’t get very graphic, just talk of “foil” and then a fade, so it’s pretty mild in comparison to other scenes in this series.