Couldn’t have put it better myself, Vegeta. That’s right, people, I’m back. It’s been a while, but I’m ready to get back to tearing this thing apart.
But before that, a quick refresher in what’s happened so far. Maryse Lightwood, mother of Alec and Isabelle, returned and was not happy to learn that Jace was
Voldemort Valentine’s son, and that Voldemort Valentine was still alive, and maybe possibly kicked Jace out to protect her family. Jace responded to this with all the maturity and composure of the spoiled, tantrum-prone child that he is, and went down to the local werewolf bar where he proceeded to pick a fight which he won handily because the author is in love with him (however, CC managed to completely undermine Jace’s alleged badassery by having him down only half a shot. Wimp), and had Luke show up to pull his ass out of the fire before Jace gets the beating he so richly deserves.
Clary’s been living with Luke, and Simon finally makes his move, and Clary reciprocates. Then, for some inexplicable reason (read: The Plot Said So), Clary gets called in to help bring Jace in, because for some equally inexplicable reason (read: The Author Said So), he is more willing to listen to the sister he didn’t know about/object of lust than either of the adopted siblings he’s lived with for years. Sure. Clary manages to convince Jace to go back home, where he and Maryse reconcile, and since none of these events have yet to be mentioned again, they prove to be almost entirely pointless.
We learn that the Inquisitor (Shadowhunter Internal Affairs) is coming, and she really doesn’t like Valentine, and suspects Jace has secretly been spying for Big V the whole time. Rather than working to allay these fears, Jace mouths off to the Inquisitor and gets thrown in a cell in the Silent City for the night. Clary (and probably the readers) are indignant about this, but the whole point is severely undermined by both Alec and Isabelle agreeing with the Inquisitor’s actions.
Meanwhile, Valentine has summoned up a nasty demon for reasons that do not and will never make sense, and has been killing Downworlder kids for strange yet obviously nefarious reasons. Not that any of the main cast care. At all.
Valentine attacks the Silent City, killing everyone there save Jace, and steals this book’s MacGuffin Item – the Soul Sword, which has the utterly useless power of being a magical lie detector. I wish I was kidding.
The other young Shadowhunters (and Clary) find out about the attack and are the only ones to respond, as all the adult Shadowhunters are off playing CSI or something. They free Jace, only to run into the Inquisitor and the rest of the adult Shadowhunters on the way out. Jace faints, but get healed by Magnus Bane, who was in the area for inexplicable reasons. The Inquisitor decides that, rather than take Jace back to the Institute where he can be put under guard 24/7, instead decides to send him home with Magnus for inexplicable reasons (are we noticing a theme here?).
An undefined period of time later, Clary, Alec, and Simon go to Magnus’s place to hash out a new plan. Magnus (pulling information out of his ass) tells them what Valentine is up to – by dipping the MacGuffin Sword in the blood of children from all four races of Downworlder (warlock, werewolf, vampire, and faerie), the sword’s magical alignment (in a bit where CC demonstrates her lack of real nerd-cred) will reverse, and it will suddenly gain the power to summon up demons (a plan which, again, makes no fucking sense). Then Isabelle calls them up to tell them that the local queen of the Seelie court wants to meet with them for – say it with me – inexplicable reasons. Rather than having to go to this meeting with one of their heavy-hitters riding the bench, Magnus reveals that he is a terrible and untrustworthy guardian, because he can just switch Jace for Alec. A prospect which Alec is just fine with, because he and Magnus are dating (sorry, was that a spoiler?).
So Clary, Simon, Jace, and Isabelle go to meet with the faerie queen. Isabelle, despite being the one who actually has experience dealing with faeries takes a back seat to Jace, because CC won’t allow anyone to show up
Draco Jace. Clary manages to fuck up and forget the single bit of advice they were given before hand and accidentally drinks a bit of faerie drink, which means that she can’t leave, unless Jace kisses Clary, because that’s “the kiss she most desires.” Why did the queen do this? Take a guess.
That little side-trip having accomplished exactly two things – Jack and shit, and Jack left town – Simon runs off, understandably pissed that his girlfriend would rather make-out with her brother than him. Clary gives up after chasing after Simon for a grand total of ten seconds, and heads back to the Institute, where she and Jace proceed to have yet more drama straight out of a bad soap opera.
Simon then shows up again, having been drained almost dry by the vampires. Raphael, the leader of the vampires, brought him to the Institute, presumably to avoid pissing off the Shadowhunters. The last chapter ended with Clary deciding to bury Simon, which will allow him to complete his transformation into a vampire, and presumably an acceptable romantic interest for Clary.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the new stuff.
We open with a description of the cemetery where they’re going to bury Simon. It apparently took them a while to get inside (presumably because someone explained to Jace that melting the lock doesn’t qualify as “unlocking”), followed by finding a place where they wouldn’t be spotted digging. And by “they”, I mean Raphael, since he’s the one doing all the work. Given that he’s Latino, and the other three are white, that feels vaguely racist.
Also, how is Raphael here? I mean, we know that vampires in this universe can’t walk on hallowed ground – that’s why he couldn’t enter the Institute. So, is this Jewish cemetery not on hallowed ground? Do cemeteries not count? Or is it because it’s a Jewish cemetery?
I’m going to assume it’s the first one. If only to not delve further into Unfortunate Implications.
Clary asks if Simon’s death was painful, and when Raphael stops working, the narration compares him leaning on the shovel to the gravedigger from Hamlet. Because I guess CC has never actually seen someone digging a hole. Also, to paraphrase a certain maxim of bad film, “never reference a good book in your bad one.” Or in this case, play.
Raphael explains that vampire bites have a narcotic/anesthetic effect, so no, Simon being drained didn’t hurt.
Clary has a brief bout of dizziness for some reason. We’re apparently supposed to take this as evidence of her feeling sick, since Jace insists on taking her away from the scene to recover, despite her insistence. So they go off a ways, and we learn that it’s apparently so cold that Clary can see her breath.
Wait, what time of year is it again? The last book was set in mid-to-late summer, and this is maybe a few weeks after. Now, I live in the South, where the temperature rarely gets below the 40s in winter and everyone panics when it starts snowing, but still.
Anyway, Clary says she feels sick, and we get this response from Jace:
“I know. That’s why I brought you out here. You looked like you were going to throw up on Raphael’s feet.”
She made a soft groaning noise.
“Might have wiped the smirk off his face,” Jace observed reflectively. “There’s that to consider.”
Rapier Twit: 1
You’re one to talk, Jace.
Clary says that this whole situation is her fault. Jace says it’s not. Clary corrects her statement, saying that it’s both they’re fault. To which Jace responds, “How do you figure that?”
Really, Jace? You have no idea at all how something you did might have lead to Simon running off to get sucked dry by vampires? Nothing?
Instead of responding, Clary stares at him for a minute, giving us this:
She looked at him silently for a moment. He needed a haircut. His hair curled the way vines did when they got too long, in looping tendrils, the color of white gold in the moonlight. The scars on his face and throat looked like they had been etched there with metallic ink. He was beautiful, she thought miserably, beautiful and there was nothing there in him, not an expression, not a slant of cheekbone or shape of jaw or curve of lips that bespoke any family resemblance to herself or her mother at all. He didn’t even really look like Valentine.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1
This is so not the time for that, CC. My god.
Also, now that I look at it, I’m fairly certain this is supposed to be foreshadowing.
Clary’s brain finally reboots, and she explains what should have been obvious, even to Jace – if they hadn’t kissed, Simon wouldn’t have run off and gotten himself killed.
To which Jace responds with this:
“We were forced to do what we did. It’s not as if we did it for fun, or to hurt him. Besides,” he said, with the ghost of a smile, “you’re my sister.”
I’m of two minds with this. On the one hand, this is further proof that Jace is some kind of psychopath – someone not taking responsibility for their actions is one of the signs someone is a psychopath. On the other hand, it also feels like CC trying to have her cake and eat it too – her self-insert gets to make-out with her Draco knock-off, but not have to feel any guilt for the consequences.
Instead of pointing out what a shitty argument that is (doesn’t matter that you were “forced to” – you still did it; also, Jace actively stopped Clary from going after Simon, so he’s doubly to blame), Clary focuses on that whole “sister” bit. Because that’s what’s important here – not that that kiss literally proved that Clary is still pining after someone else, but that it’s her brother. Yes, the latter makes the former worse, but it doesn’t overshadow it. She asks him not to say it “like that” (like what?), Jace does a little bit about words losing meaning if you say them enough times (see a good example here), and we end with this:
“It doesn’t matter how many times you say it. It’ll still be true.”
“And it doesn’t matter what you won’t let me say, that’ll still be true too.”
Both Hands, Ma’am: 2
CC, there’s honestly enough drama here as is. You don’t need to go heaping more on top of it.
Alec thankfully shows up, along with Magnus. So we’re not even going to pretend that the whole “house arrest” thing was ever a problem, I guess. They brought blood, obtained from a halal butcher shop. Jace tells Clary that what’s going to happen won’t be pretty, and says he’ll send Isabelle to comfort Clary. Because I guess want to expose the women-folk to anything that might upset their delicate sensibilities.
A) How would he know how this will go? Has he been to a vampire raising before? Why someone else who might reasonably know all this, like Raphael or even Magnus, explaining this? And B) the ceremony/ritual involves burying the currently-dead body of the would-be vampire. “Pleasant” went out the window a while back.
And shock of shocks, Clary actually brings up one of my first point. The answer is no – Jace has never seen a vampire rise from the grave. So Clary insists that she’s going to be there. Wow. Maybe she’s finally evolving a spine.
They go back to find that Raphael’s finished burying Simon, and Isabelle is sitting off to the side doing… I don’t know what. Honestly, unless she’s being used as a target for scorn, CC doesn’t seem to know what to do with Isabelle. The fact that it’s cold is reiterated, and we learn that Clary is wearing Isabelle’s coat. I’m going to assume she’s just borrowed a coat from Isabelle, rather than leaving Isabelle to suffer, but it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if she (Clary) had.
We learn a bit more about vampires – namely that they call new vampires “fledglings”, which Clary is a little bothered by (it’s “too friendly”) and that freshly-turned vampires have occasionally gotten stuck in the ground in winter, and forced to remain buried until the ground thaws, starving the whole time.
Well, that’s only slightly less terrifying than them being buried forever, yet still utterly fucked-up.
Raphael spots Magnus, and addresses him as High Warlock, so I guess we’re treating that as a real title. And I will continue to treat both it and its bearer with all the respect due his station – which is to say, none at all.
Magnus explains that he’s here because he’s curious. Sure you are, buddy. Also, he uses the term “Night Children”, because that hasn’t gotten old.
You Keep Using That Word: 1
Honestly, I can’t help but think that this should be a fairly private, even secret thing. I mean, real births usually have friends and family of the mother/couple present, but maybe not in the room.
Anyway, Raphael tells Jace that he keeps “surprisingly illustrious company.” Jace responds with this:
“Are you talking about yourself again?” asked Jace. He smoothed the churned dirt with the tip of a boot. “That seems boastful.”
You’re one to talk about boasting, Jace, considering he’s the head of the local vampires, and you’re not worthy of doing the laundry for the Institute. Cripes, take the fucking complement.
Our “Heroes”: 1
And then, well… this happens:
“Maybe he meant me,” said Alec. Everyone looked at him in surprise. Alec so rarely made jokes. He smiled nervously. “Sorry,” he said. “Nerves.”
I think that response is less surprise at Alec making a joke and more feeling awkward about how terrible it is. Not that that’ll stop me.
Rapier Twit: 2
I mean, my god, even the other characters thought that was terrible.
And we come back to it being really cold. Thankfully, Raphael explains what’s up, making it not stupid and pointless detail to keep harping on (don’t get me wrong – it’s still kinda stupid, but not stupid and pointless). Turns out excessive cold is part of the vampire raising – the fledgling (in this case, Simon) “draws strength from the living things that surround it,” which apparently manifests as feeling cold. You’d think they might feel weak or tired, but I guess that would be too obvious.
And then Clary points out that Raphael doesn’t appear to feel cold. So he points of the fucking obvious – he’s not alive.
Our “Heroes”: 2
Apparently everyone’s standing on top of the freshly dug grave, because Raphael has to tell them all to back off. Clary bumps into Isabelle, who doesn’t look so good, and in a surprising display of empathy, Clary asks if something’s wrong.
And here’s Isabelle’s answer:
“Everything,” Isabelle said. “Clary, maybe we should have just let him go—”
What the actual fuck, Isabelle? No, no, I shouldn’t blame you. I should blame CC – after all, she’s the one who doesn’t seem to know how to keep your character consistent. Isabelle regularly hangs out with (and is probably dating) one of the Seelie queen’s guards, but for some reason doesn’t like vampires. I’m just going to assume this is so Clary can look good by comparison, seeing as this is how Clary responds:
“Let him die, you mean.” Clary jerked her arm out of Isabelle’s grip. “Of course that’s what you think. You think everyone who isn’t just like you is better off dead anyway.”
Well, Clary, considering A) you barely acknowledge Simon when he’s there, and almost never when he’s not, and B) had/still have the hots for Jace, who’s basically the poster-boy for the supernatural Hitler Youth, you have no room to complain.
Our “Heroes”: 4
One for both of you.
Back to the action, for lack of a better word.
There’s some vague descriptions of what’s going on, and finally Simon’s hand bursts out of the ground. Clary starts to run forward, only to be grabbed by Raphael. Clary insists that Simon needs help, but Raphael tells her that Simon needs to dig himself out, and that this way is “better”. Clary counters that that isn’t her way, and runs for the grave again.
Simon does manage to dig himself out on his own, but he isn’t moving. Clary starts freaking out, but then Simon grabs her, throws her to the ground, and starts going for her neck, only for Raphael to grab her and toss her aside like it’s no big deal. Oh, and Raphael reiterates that he told her to stay back.
Gotta say, I’m really starting to like Raphael. Let’s hope CC doesn’t ruin his character later.
Clary complains that Simon didn’t recognize her, but Raphael explains that he (Simon) did, but doesn’t care, because he’s starving. On the one hand, Raphael probably could have mentioned that, but she A) knew they had brought blood there for a reason, and B) refused to listen to the actual expert. So as far as I’m concerned, Clary almost getting her throat ripped out by her “best friend”/ex-boyfriend is a-okay in my book.
However, I can’t help but feel that this is a bit of a missed opportunity for world building. What if, along with the whole “they’ll be starving” thing, letting vampire fledglings dig themselves out was a right of passage among vampires, like a christening or a bris? In order for new vampire to prove themselves worthy, they have to rise on their own – any that can’t are written off as being too weak. Yes, it’s a bit heartless, but it would be something to make these vampires feel more developed.
Jace, being a coward as well as lazy, passes Raphael the bag containing the blood. Raphael opens it, and for some reason the blood is in smaller bags. I’m not sure why, since it’s from a butcher’s shop, not a blood bank. Raphael rips one open and hands it to Simon.
And CC produces an actual good bit of writing once again:
And Simon, who had been a vegetarian since he was ten years old, who wouldn’t drink milk that wasn’t organic, who fainted at the sight of needles— Simon snatched the packet of blood out of Raphael’s thin brown hand and tore into it with his teeth.
It’s a nice bit of contrast, and really demonstrates how becoming a vampire has changed him. Or it would, if any of this had been mentioned before. But I’ll let that slide, since there was never any reason to bring any of it up.
While Raphael gets Simon settled, Clary wanders off and pukes. I guess I can’t blame her, but she was told that this wouldn’t be pretty. Then she collapses, and the chapter is brought to a close with this:
She rested her hot face against the cool dirt and thought, for the first time, that maybe the dead weren’t so unlucky after all.
I’m sure CC intended for that to come across as deep, but it isn’t. For that to work, the alternative to being dead has to clearly be worse than death. The only real time or place where I can think that sort of thing would apply would be the trenches of the First World War, and even then only in certain places. Here, it feels like Clary’s whining that Simon didn’t embrace her when he popped out of the grave.
This chapter as a whole wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t great, but it doesn’t feel like CC wrote it just to inflate her word count – unlike some other chapters. And it’s short, so that helps.
Still, it does feel like the actual plot (thwarting Valentine’s Evil Scheme) has taken a bit of a back seat to Teen Drama since chapter 8. Maybe that’ll start to change with the next chapter, but given that we still have a little more than half the book left (judging by my copy) I wouldn’t count on it.
Entirely Pointless: 0 (Total: 29)
Un-Logic: 0 (Total: 28)
You Keep Using That Word: 1 (Total: 51)
Shoddy World Building: 0 (Total: 27)
Rapier Twit: 2 (Total: 39)
Our “Heroes”: 4 (Total: 77)
No Shit Sherlock: 0 (Total: 6)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 2 (Total: 56)
A Word from Our Sponsors: 0 (Total: 5)