Picking up pretty much exactly where the first book left off (spoilers for that, of course): Mortmain is still at large, Will is still cursed and angsty about it, Jem is still dying, and Tessa still doesn’t know what she is. Mortmain, for this book at least, stays well in the background as other interests take precedence: the head of the London Institute, Charlotte, is being challenged for her position by Benedict Lightwood, and has been given an ultimatum: find Mortmain in two weeks, or lose your position.
So, the Enclave at the Institute sets out to do just that, and gets bogged down in some interesting messes. Jessamine is stepping out with Tessa’s (evil) brother Nate; Benedict is messing around with some less-than-nice elements; and Mortmain is a whole lot older than he looks and has been planning his revenge for a long, long time. And that’s not even mentioning the whole Jem-Tessa-Will love triangle. Or Will’s search with Magnus (yay!) to end his curse.
(As a side note: M has said she needs a t-shirt that says: “Magnus Bane is more fabulous than you.” She found this one, which is close enough.)
It’s very much a middle book in the trilogy, except I think Clare handles it better than most people. Mortmain is gone, but she gives us a very real villain in Nate, and Jessamine’s deception and treachery is quite delightful. Perhaps one of the things I liked best was seeing how all the names fit in with the first series (which, I suppose, is one reason to read those first, but I think it would work the other way, too). And seeing how much the Shadowhunters have changed. It frustrated me that I still had no answers about Tessa, or why Mortmain wants her, but I was able to roll with it. Speaking of Tessa: she’s a fabulous character. They all are. (Even angsty Will.) I don’t know why it is that I like these characters better than the ones in the Mortal Instruments. Perhaps it’s because the world seems more complex. Or maybe it’s just because I’m comparing them to Clary and Jace and so on, and finding these characters more interesting. (Or maybe just because I like Victorian London better than contemporary NYC. It could be that.) What ever it is, I’m happily moving on to the last book, just to see how it all ends.