There are times when Heather & I finish a book, but don’t have time to write a full, comprehensive review… or even a shorter “flashbulb” review. BUT we still want to share our thoughts with you on what we’ve been reading. That’s why every Saturday we’ll be featuring 2 “snippet” reviews — short, sweet, to-the-point reviews that we’ll try to keep to 2-7 sentences. (I emphasize the word “try.” Sometimes we just have to stretch to that 8th sentence, or 9th… or 34th.) So we hope you enjoy these!!
Between this book and Cruel Beauty, it’s clear that Hodge has a gift for creating relatably flawed, intriguingly self-aware heroines who’ve been forced into seemingly impossible positions. Maia’s particular situation comes courtesy of a bad bargain made by her mother on her behalf with the Gentle Lord. And as no bargain with the Gentle Lord ever ends favorably for anyone, Maia suffers the consequences for her mother’s great love, telling lie after lie, playing a part day after day to keep others from paying the price of her mother’s deal with the devil. But when she meets the engaging Lord Anax, a young man who’s fed up with falsehoods, Maia discovers how freeing the truth can actually be. But as she grows closer to Anax, the more she realizes that her lies may now be more necessary than ever. Her resulting dilemma, though perhaps a bit predictable, still made for a fantastic story.
So what made this story so fantastic, especially considering that I’m not usually a fan of the Cinderella story in general? Well, several things…
Maia. As I already mentioned. Maia’s a relatably flawed heroine whose situation is reaching a critical point. She feels honor bound to protect her household from her mother’s bargain, no matter how they might treat her, but after years of enduring abuses and ill-treatment, her “duty” has been taking it’s toll. Maia’s a genuinely decent person, but her goodness is a somewhat forced goodness as well, and it’s something she achieves by lying. Hers is an interesting and messy predicament, and I love these difficult, morally gray areas that Hodge seems to like dropping her heroines into, and ultimately, I just love the development of Maia’s character.
Stepsisters. The complicated relationship dynamic between Maia and her stepsisters is fascinating. As is true of most relationships, there are a lot of factors that color their interactions, and it’s not quite as black and white as simply writing them off as “wicked stepsisters.”
Anax. He is as tortured, and conflicted, and flawed as Maia, and I love it. I also love that this version of Cinderella does not limit Maia’s interaction with her “prince” to an evening (or several) of dancing. Though this was a short novella, the relationship that builds between Anax and Maia is surprisingly believable, satisfying, and substantial.
Twists and Turns. And lastly, I love how Hodge merges her idea of the Gentle Lord from Cruel Beauty with some of the elements from the “Aschenputtel” version of the Cinderella tale… among other things. A+ for cleverness.
Overall. A fantastic reimagining of Cinderella that puts several creative twists on the tale, adding some (much needed) bulk and depth to the story, while also expanding the world of Cruel Beauty.
Disclaimer: Maybe I don’t need to say this at this point, but as a review of the 6th book in this series, it’s bound to be a bit spoilery. If you’re anti-spoiler like I am, you might want to come back and read this later. =)
First of all, I am a HUGE fan of The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices world. The way Cassandra Clare has built everything and the complexity of the stories/characters/world is nothing short of breathtaking. There have been so many moments when I thought, “Cassie, how are you going to get us out of this corner?” and she never stops surprising me. City of Heavenly Fire is no exception. The places Cassandra Clare pushes these characters to and the ultimate resolution of the plot is completely perfect. She introduces us to new characters (Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn–the main characters of her new series The Dark Artifices) which was very well done. I never felt like it was a plug for the new series; they simply were involved with the events of the story.
The world of this series just keeps getting bigger. Every time I think I’ve got a grasp on things, Cassie just blows my mind further. I don’t know how she is able to manage all she accomplishes in these books, but somehow she’s able to tell a main plot and various subplots with a gigantic cast of characters, from multiple POVs and ends up with a story that feels complete and satisfying. And I still want more!
Overall, this is a stunning conclusion to The Mortal Instruments. I couldn’t ask for better, but I will always ask for more! I can’t wait to see what’s in store in The Dark Artifices. I have a feeling we’re in for a wild ride.