My previous comments on the novels in this series included a very culture-studies approach to the merits of the story. Those comments still apply here--with a minor exception for the development of the Alec/Magnus homosexual relationship. This parapseudo author does a great job dealing with issues of class, sexuality, race, gender, and contended space. Plus there's sufficient groping to pique even the stuffiest reader's interest.
- Character consistency. Clary's still frustrating yet sympathetic. Simon's still unsure of his awesomeness. Jace is still a lovely prick. Maryse is still a hen-peck. Isabelle is still boiling honey. Magnus is still Magnus. It makes it easier to pick up the story when you're reading something written by an author who really knows her characters. Obviously, Clare has spent a lot of time romping with these people in her mind. I'm a little disappointed that the characters have been slow to develop realistically--especially Jace--but more on that in the Bummers section below.
- Getting a little racy! Clary with her legs wrapped around Jace, up against the wall in a dark alley. Clary whipping her shirt off and rolling around in her bed with topless Jace. I STILL want to see Simon and Isabella behind closed doors! Let's give Isabella a tangible sexuality. Will it be as exciting as her usual oozing? I'd imagine Simon would bring a new dimension to it. Looking forward to a little woofy style with Maia and Jordan.
- Setting. Once again, Clare provides a sexy, grungy, scary, concrete world. (Reminds me of my college life in San Francisco.) The characters move through the glamoured New York, and I'm thrilled to piggyback, experiencing corner diners, bachelor pads, the illustrious Institute, suburbia, and the city pavement. It's just the right amount to keep me rooted in reality while I suspend my disbelief. I'm so glad that we don't have to visit Italy in order to mingle with the Shadowhunter royalty (Twilight and Tempted was enough for me). They can just pop through a portal and join the ichor-slinging brawl.
- Story. What could possibly happen now that Idris is saved and Clary/Jace can have legal relations? A lot. Although some of it's pretty predictable--Jace will be a jerk, Simon will have vampire stage fright, Clary will lament her estrogenic problems--the conflicts work, and the surprises are gnarly!
- Females are central to the whole damn thing. Clary, Isabella, Maia, Jocelyn, Camille, Maureen, and Lilith. Yes, Lilith. THE Lilith. I'd have liked to see Lilith poke around earlier in the story--maybe befriend Isabella or something. I'm glad to see Isabella softening a little, and I like the way Camille is developing into a horrible bitch. These ladies drive the whole story, even if they're a little weak or wormy here and there.
- Alec. What happened to him? Why's he all whiny and pouty? I don't like the new jealous complainer that Alec's become. I like his edge from the previous three novels. The direction his relationship with Magnus is taking doesn't thrill me.
- Jace's new reason to be an idiot. It's very Edward Cullenish. He doesn't want to hurt Clary, doesn't want to kill her. So the best thing, obviously, is to avoid and ignore her--but then to profess his love every time she corners him. Lame. And the explanation at the end is a little too convenient. Rune zombie? No thanks.
- Feels a little rushed. The pacing of the previous three worked miracles. CoFA could've been tweaked to stretch out the Lilith/Camille issue. At the same time, the Tracksuit Killaz subplot could've taken up more time. The big whammy at the end kinda just pops out there with no real lead up. Fun for Paranormal Activity; not so fun for a rich novel.
- No real risks. I'm ready for someone important to die. I vote for Jocelyn. Either someone needs to die, or Jace to go away for a whole novel, or the Silent Brothers to kidnap Clary, or something else super shocking.