Chain of Gold: The Last Hours, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
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Shadowhunters fight poisoning demons in exciting spin-off.

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age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Mentions of places in Edwardian London -- see Notes on the Text at the end of the book for details on what has been demolished and what's still there. Plus many references to the Persian epic poem Layla and Majnun and some Persian words sprinkled throughout, especially endearments. Most chapters begin with a literary quote or poem excerpt from the likes of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Louis Stevenson, Lord Tennyson, and other greats.

Positive Messages

A weighing of what blood ties really mean: We should not suffer or carry shame for the actions of our parents or ancestors and are not destined to head down the same path unless we choose it. The Shadowhunter government is shown as rigid and too bureaucratic to be just and effective -- it practically encourages lawbreaking. Friendship, loyalty, and bravery are all tested here. A look at how alcoholism affects the friends and family of the alcoholic.

Positive Role Models & Representations

James is the leader of his group of friends nicknamed the Merry Thieves because they're always following their instincts and the truth before they follow the law or their parents' wishes. This seems to be encouraged by James' father when he says that there are "always those who stay vigilant and seek the truth rather than easy answers." Cordelia is brave and clever and the wielder of a powerful weapon that chose her. Though societal norms of the early 20th century apply in things like relationships, women in the Shadowhunter world are allowed to be formidable in battle. Forgiveness is not granted to a former bully, despite his remorse. Characters suffer from alcoholism, and their families and friends suffer along with them. As usual in the Shadowhunter world, the LGBTQ community is well represented. There's also some diversity here: Cordelia's mother is Persian.


Shadowhunters fight demons many times, as is their lot in life, with blades flashing and ichor flowing before the demons disappear in a puff of ash, but here the demons have poison that slowly kills one Shadowhunter and nearly kills others. A description of a rotting body that had been ripped apart by demons. A ghost remembers his own death as a teen. A near-death from drowning, a broken leg, a dangerous fever, and passing out from exhaustion and a too-tight corset. Characters are possessed and manipulated by demons.


Teens, straight and LGBTQ, kiss passionately. Married adults kiss and undress. Much talk and innuendo around a female character who seduces men and women.


"Bloody" and "bastard" are the most common, along with "damn" and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Really heavy drinking from one teen character who's confronted about his alcoholism more than once with talk of another character being an alcoholic. Other older teen characters and adults drink regularly: brandy, wine, Port, and champagne. One character smokes cheroot.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Chain of Gold is the first book in The Last Hours series set in the vast Shadowhunter world of Cassandra Clare. Chain of Gold takes place chronologically after The Infernal Devices (early 20th century) and involves James and Lucie, the children of Tess and Will from that series. Like all Shadowhunter novels, there are demons to fight. Ichor spills freely in battles and the demons disappear in a cloud of ash, but this time they poison Shadowhunters before they dissolve. One person dies and others are gravely injured. There's also a description of a rotting body that had been ripped apart by demons, a near-death from drowning, and possession and manipulation by demons. Other mature content includes light swearing and heavy drinking: one teen character is an alcoholic and drinks constantly, and other teen Shadowhunters drink in company with friends. Sexual content includes straight and LGBTQ passionate kissing and innuendo about a character with many lovers. Throughout Chain of Gold, teen characters grapple with who they are in relation to their families. They begin to learn that they don't need to feel shame or carry a burden because of who their ancestors are or what their parents have done.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byreadingmaniac August 10, 2020


This book is my new favorite by Cassandra Clare. The characters are so strong and relatable and the plot drew me in from the first page. That being said there i... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 4, 2021

I refuse to give my review a title

I'm 12 and I LOVED THIS BOOK!! There's fighting and stuff like that, so if that bothers you don't read it, but I never really understood people n... Continue reading

What's the story?

In CHAIN OF GOLD: THE LAST HOURS, BOOK 1, Cordelia is both excited and nervous to move to London. She's excited to train with her future parabatai (magically connected demon-fighting partner for life) Lucie, and to see Lucie's brother, James, whom she's always had feelings for. She's nervous because she's tasked with helping clear the name of her father, who's awaiting trial in the Shadowhunter city for a demon-fighting mission gone wrong. But Cordelia's plans go awry as soon as she arrives. Demons attack Shadowhunters with a poison that has no known antidote, making it impossible to draw attention back to her father's case. And Cordelia can't seem to get James' attention when another young lady comes to town: Grace Blackthorn. Rather than spend her time being jealous, Cordelia becomes friends with the crew James hangs around with, nicknamed the Merry Thieves. This talented group of young Shadowhunters, frustrated with their government's slow response to the crisis, take action to stop the poisoning demons.

Is it any good?

Fans of the Shadowhunter world have another exciting series to devour and another set of demon-fighting star-crossed lovers to moon over. The Last Hours series takes place after The Infernal Devices series, still in old London -- early 20th century -- with fancy balls and coaches and big dresses to enjoy between bouts of demon goring and ichor showers. There are also exciting new powers for James and Lucie, offspring of a Shadowhunter and a warlock, to discover here. By the end of Chain of Gold, readers will be pondering just how much extra magical oomph they possess. In James' case it's not all good news. There are those who want to use and manipulate him for who he is, which is positively ruining his chances with Cordelia. As usual, it will take hundreds and hundreds of pages and some serious wrong turns and misunderstandings and probably a trip to a fairy realm to sort out this relationship. Yes, Chain of Gold follows a formula you see in so many of Cassandra Clare's books, but it will captivate mature teen fantasy fans all the same.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how an alcoholic teen character is portrayed in Chain of Gold. How do his friends talk to him? How does he talk to himself about it? Is this portrayal similar to what you've read in other books or seen on screen?

  • Most book and screen portrayals of bullies paint them as villains and that's it. How is Alastair different? As a reader, do you like having some sympathy for this type of character? Do you have sympathy for him?

  • Will you read more in this Shadowhunter series? Which is your favorite Shadowhunter series so far? Who are your favorite heroes in the series, male and female?

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