Series Review: The Mortal Instruments (1-3) by Cassandra Clare

Friends, hello, I am FINALLY back with another review! And I’m especially excited for this one because it’s over one of my absolute favorites: The Mortal Instruments series. Recently, I reread the first three books in preparation for The Red Scrolls of Magic (which I’ve now read and LOVED) and it was quite the experience. And by that, I mean it was the absolute best experience.

It’s been several years since I read The Mortal Instruments for the first time. My first read was in early 2014 at age 15, and honestly? It changed my life in ways I can’t even begin to explain. I’m so very happy to be revisiting these books that I hold close to my heart, and this time, also reviewing them and sharing why I love them as much as I do!

Today’s review is only going to cover the first 3 books in the series, and then I plan to come back with another review over books 4-6 once I finish those as well. So this’ll be a “series review part 1” of sorts. I’m not sure when part 2 will be out, but I’m making progress on City of Fallen Angels (#4) now so hopefully soon enough!

Alright, on with the review ~


Series Title: The Mortal Instruments

Book Titles: City of Bones (#1), City of Ashes (#2), and City of Glass (#3)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publication: 2007, 2008, 2009

Individual Ratings:

  • City of Bones – 4 stars
  • City of Ashes – 3.5 stars
  • City of Glass: 4.5 stars

Overall Rating: 4 stars

We’re going to start with some positivity here because wow do I love how genuinely enjoyable these books are. I had some fears going in to this reread because I wasn’t sure if I’d like it quite as much as I did as a teenager, but there was really nothing to be concerned about. The storyline is just as engrossing I remember it being. There’s so much to be immersed in, from the action to the character dynamics to the political aspects, and it all comes together to make for a terrific reading experience.

As for the pacing, I honestly found it to be really well done in these first few books. It wasn’t difficult to become intrigued from the start because of how exciting things are at the beginning. And generally, things remained exciting throughout all three books. There were very few parts where I was bored or found what I was reading to be unnecessary, which is a definite plus.

I do have to say that the plotline in City of Ashes did seem a little all over the place to me, which is part of the reason for the lower rating on that one. Additionally, City of Glass had a bit of a slower start, but that seemed justifiable given the setup that needed to happen for that book. Other than that, I found the overall storyline and pacing of these books to be excellent. Things remain entertaining throughout!

As what usually happens, the characters are the main reason I love these books as much as I do. I’m very in to character driven books, and while I think this series has a great balance between a plot and a character driven storyline, I feel like this cast of characters is what makes the series so enjoyable. They mean the world to me.

There are lots of characters in this series, so I’m not going to include them all here, but here’s some brief thoughts on the one’s I think are worth noting:

Clary: I have only infinite appreciation for Clary. She’s so authentic and well written and I wish her importance was more recognized. I loved seeing the start of her journey again

Jace: Okay I love Jace, but ahh he can be frustrating in these early books. I get sad because of much he’s been through in his life though so I’ve been trying to be more understanding of him at this phase

Alec: Alec deserves all the happiness in the entire world so seeing him unhappy earlier in these books breaks my heart. Knowing how far he’s going to go in the future makes me so, so proud though. I just want the best for him always

Isabelle: My absolute favorite character in this entire series. Like, no contest whatsoever. I can’t even explain why I love her so endlessly but she’s absolutely everything to me

Simon: Simon always just ends up thrown in to everything without warning here, poor guy. He’s wonderful and has such a great personality. I adore him

Magnus: I don’t even think it’s possible not to love Magnus. He’s iconic and always helpful to everyone. It’s not a Shadowhunters book unless Magnus Bane is there saving them all honestly

Luke: I have newfound appreciation for Luke because he really did so much good in this series. Such a great man

Jocelyn: Even though she was pretty much sleeping the entire time, I liked the parts she was in and found myself getting way more emotional over her backstory than I recalled

Amatis: I barely remembered Amatis and I’m kind of ashamed of that because she’s a wonderful character with a story that also makes me very sad

Max: The youngest Lightwood who provides wholesome content and who I love a lot

Aline: A legend!! I had forgotten Aline showed up so early on in this series but I was super glad she did

Raphael: Another legend! Raphael is one of my favorites although he sadly wasn’t here at the beginning very much

Valentine: A fascinating villain in some ways, but all the horrible things he did had me so mad and I’m not a fan

Sebastian: My favorite villain in all of The Shadowhunter Chronicles. He’s super creepy but also complexly written which makes him very interesting to read about

Okay so here’s where I have a little bit of an issue with this series. I knew this was going to be the main problem I had going in to this reread, so I was expecting it, but the writing in these first few books isn’t exactly spectacular. As much as I enjoy reading this series, it’s worth noting that the writing is just alright in the beginning. It’s not that it’s terrible, and I wouldn’t say it lessened my experience, but it’s something I was aware of this time.

But the good news is, I thought the writing significantly improved as these books progressed. I especially noticed how well written City of Glass was compared to the first two. I believe this has a lot to do with the fact that Cassandra Clare had started writing The Infernal Devices at that point (which I personally find to be her most well written series). You can truly notice her improvements around that time.

All in all, the writing in these first 3 books isn’t anything exceptional, but I don’t think it’s absolutely horrendous either. It’s just… very okay. I can recognize it’s not great, but it didn’t make a significant impact on my enjoyment of these as a whole, so it wasn’t much of a negative.

I felt obligated to include a section dedicated to the setting because it’s truly one of the reasons I love this series as much as I do. I mean, it takes place in New York City!! That’s my absolute favorite place on earth. When I first read these books, I hadn’t visited NYC yet so I’m only now recognizing certain places and streets that are included. It’s been a lot of fun to be immersed in a city I love and am familiar with combined with the elements of the Shadow World. I couldn’t have asked for anything more, really.

But even though NYC is my favorite, I also loved the setting change to Idris in City of Glass too. It was so epic. Going there in that book made everything seem bigger and more intense, like things were about to really go down. Idris is also just so interesting. I know it doesn’t exist but like, I think it’d be cool to visit there.

Whether in NYC or Idris, the settings were very well written and added to the overall atmosphere of these books in a lot of ways. I only have positive things to say about this aspect for sure.

To sum this all up: I love these books to no end. I know they’re not exactly the most quality type of literature. I know my nostalgia and my memories attached to this series are a big reason I’m praising it as much as I am. But I’m so beyond thankful for these books. They provided me with such happiness and comfort when I needed it as a teenager and they’re doing the same for me again during this reread. Plus, they were what introduced me to The Shadowhunters Chronicles to begin with so I have lots and lots of appreciation for that.

It’s (obviously) hard for me to speak about this series objectively, but I do want to note that I really can recognize the flaws in it. Especially now that I’m reading these as I’m older, I notice the issues here and there. It’s just… there really is nothing like revisiting an old favorite series, ya know? These books are super special to me so this review has definitely been impacted by that.

All in all, rereading these books and revisiting some favorite characters has been the best experience. Yes, there are a few problems with the writing and such, but the good by far outweighs the bad for me. These books are tons of fun with lovable characters, an intriguing plotline, some great settings, and so much more. All the good things. I’m very much looking forward to continuing this series reread!!


I’d love to know

Have you read The Mortal Instruments, or do you ever plan to? Have you read any other Shadowhunter books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

25 thoughts on “Series Review: The Mortal Instruments (1-3) by Cassandra Clare

    1. YES I felt the same exact way!! Thankfully I’ve been loving it though haha. Hope you enjoy if you ever decide to do a reread!

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  1. I loved reading this review, I felt like I was revisiting it with you! You’ve done such a good job of summarizing A LOT here as well and I’m very impressed!

    I think of everyone, Clary was actually my least favourite character. I didn’t dislike her, but she did drive me a little crazy sometimes with her reckless decisions, especially running into situations with no plan, but then, I remember her age and think that it’s not really surprising!
    I was also NOT on the Jace bandwagon until quite a way through… I felt like his character and the romance was a bit over the top, but something happened around book 4-ish, I think, and I was just completely won over and shipped like crazy. 😀

    I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed the reread as much as you hoped! I can’t wait to dive into my next Cassandra Clare series, The Infernal Devices – once I’ve read them, I have a feeling I will want to go back and revisit City of Bones because of all the overlaps/references I will have missed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww Becky thank you very much! I appreciate your kind words a lot😊

      Yeah Clary didn’t stand out too much to me when I first read it but I’ve been growing a bigger appreciation for her since then and I really love her! I think her mistakes make her more realistic and relatable, and I agree, especially since she’s young and thrown in to a wild situation haha. And yes, Jace – he can be quite frustrating at the beginning! He definitely grew on me though❤️

      I’m so excited for you to read TID! It’s my absolute favorite and I couldn’t praise it enough. Yes, you’ll definitely want to go back and see all of the references to it in TMI!! There’s so many and it’s really amazing. Happy reading! And thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yaaaay, I’m so glad it’s one of your faves as well! And that you also love Alec❤️ He’s truly wonderful and YES he definitely deserves everything. Thank you very much!!

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  2. Ahhh such a good review Brianna! I love these books so much even if they aren’t necessarily the highest quality. I’m definitely going to do a reread of this series next year for The Lost Book of the White (I think a certain something at the end of CoHF is going to play an important part but also I don’t really… remember it well enough) and I’m SO EXCITED because I miss these characters sooooo much!

    And AHHHHHHHHH I READ RED SCROLLS TODAY AND OMG I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT SO MUCH MALEC IS MY FAVE (❤️❤️) AND IT MADE ME SO EMOTIONAL AND IT WAS SO FUNNY AND AHGJHGHFGDSGHGJ SO GOOD!!! She’s also definitely improved SO MUCH as a writer since TMI.

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    1. Thank you so much Iris!! YES you get me, these books aren’t her best work but they’re just so enjoyable, right? Ahh I love them. Omg yes that’s a great idea to do a reread before TLBOTW! Yesss I think TEC is going to end up really tying in with both TMI and TDA, which is so great. I hope you enjoy the TMI reread when you do it!!

      I’M SO SO SO HAPPY YOU LOVED RED SCROLLS! ❤️ UGH IT WAS TOO GOOOOD. Malec and Haline and the setting and the humor and EVERYTHING. Perfect. I already want to reread honestly hahaha

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      1. I swear I was literally JUST staring longingly at Red Scrolls and saying how I already wanted to reread it like five seconds before I saw this reply 😂

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  3. DAFJSKLFJLASFJSLA YOU MAKE ME WANT TO REREAD THE SERIES SO BADLYYYYY!!! I loved how you recapped everything and spotlighted each character. Sebastian is honestly such a well-crafted villain, and Jace definitely was pretty angsty early on in the series and ugh Simon is so precious!! ❤

    I also definitely agree that even though we might not love the books as much now since the writing and everything is as great as Cassie's later books, there's still so so much to love about them since they're the ones that STARTED EVERYTHING??? We really wouldn't have the rest of the Shadowhunter world without them which is honestly so crazy! I can't wait to read more of your reviews, Brianna 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AHHH TIFF YOU SHOULD REREAD IT!! It’s honestly been way too much fun coming back this series. Sebastian really is such a interesting villain, right?? YES Jace is seriously so angsty in the beginning lol. AND AW SIMON he truly is so precious

      Exactly!!! Like, these books aren’t the greatest quality or anything but they were the BEGINNING. So we must appreciate them for that❤️ ah you’re so sweet, thank you very much!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw no nothing to be embarrassed about at all!! I’d definitely recommend a read if you ever get the chance though😊 thanks for your comment Hannah!

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