A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens, straight and LGBTQ, kiss passionately. Married adults kiss and undress. Much talk and innuendo around a female character who seduces men and women.
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"Bloody" and "bastard" are the most common, along with "damn" and "hell."
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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.
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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.
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.
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