Chain of Iron: The Last Hours, Book 2
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Chain of Iron is the second book in The Last Hours series set in the vast Shadowhunter world of Cassandra Clare. The Last Hours 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 after some gore including chopped-off tentacles and demons sliced in half. Shadowhunters are stalked, stabbed, and killed by an unknown assailant and one dead Shadowhunter is mourned by the main characters. Ghosts are summoned and remember their painful deaths and there's talk of necromancy (magic that raises the dead), brief demonic possession, and visits to a creepy demon realm. Regular readers of the many Shadowhunter series are used to star-crossed-lovers storylines and how they often include LGBTQ characters. Expect kissing and some undressing, both straight and LGBTQ, and LGBTQ sex not described beyond some flowery descriptions of orgasms. Drinking is heavy in this book and happens in many, many scenes. A teen character is an alcoholic, carries around a flask, and drinks nonstop in front of his friends who don't like it but barely confront him about it. He also drinks before driving and picks a fight while drunk. Other older teens drink in bars, at parties, in homes. James and Cordelia are both strong and brave characters who look after their friends and break every Shadowhunter rule to do so.
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What's the Story?
In CHAIN OF IRON: THE LAST HOURS, BOOK 2, all the Shadowhunters in London seem to turn out for James and Cordelia's sham wedding, even the ones they don't want there. Cordelia has asked James not to see Grace while they're together for the agreed-upon year of marriage that's meant save Cordelia's reputation. Yet there Grace is, begging to talk to James alone before the wedding. James almost doesn't resist because of the cursed bracelet she gave him that makes him think he's really in love with her. But his friends talk him out of it, the wedding is lovely, and married life begins blissfully -- at first. The teen couple has been given a house, two maids, a horse-drawn carriage of their own, and all their friends can come visit. But out on the streets of London, Shadowhunters are being mysteriously killed at night, and not by their usual demon enemies. After each murder, James wakes up in his new home screaming, because he witnesses the horrific act and even feels the anger and hatred of a killer during the murder. Even worse, he wakes up freezing and sees his bedroom window open in the middle of winter. Could his ties to the greater demon Belial (aka grandpa) be turning him into a killer in his sleep?
Is It Any Good?
There are a lot of Shadowhunter novels out there, and this series and this particular sequel are just as engaging, even more so if you like extra helpings of ghosts and star-crossed lovers. You thought Clary and Jace had it bad when they thought they were brother and sister. Now here's Cordelia, married to someone cursed to love someone else, and Lucie, cursed to love a ghost with some serious secrets. Even Cordelia's brother, Alastair, pushes away someone who loves him. James' best friend Matthew can never have the one he loves (not telling who). And there's Anna, who won't even consider loving again after her heart was broken, even though Ariadne is throwing herself at her and begging for forgiveness.
Is that everyone? Wow. And still author Cassandra Clare fit in an absorbing mystery about Shadowhunter deaths; jaunts to demon realms, the Shadow Market, and wild Downworlder pubs in London; visits with fashionable warlocks; creepy necromancy experiments; and more. So just in case you thought there was little room left for the fantasy elements, there's plenty still in Chain of Iron (including the idea that teen newlyweds start their married lives in a free posh London home with maids and a carriage, but we digress). Since this is the second in the series, brace yourself for every love story and every plot twist to bring you down to some depth of hell with the poor lovelorn characters. Cordelia and James' story will be particularly frustrating for readers who will be yelling into their books that it's all just a simple misunderstanding, and one that, sadly, won't be cleared up until Book 3.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the alcoholic characters in Chain of Iron. How does their alcoholism affect those close to them? How are they enabled by those around them? How has it affected their lives and relationships? Is it hard to read about characters with this illness?
How often do you see alcoholic characters in books and other media? Are there ever scenes of heavy drinking in media that talk about consequences, or how drinking carries the potential of acquiring an (often inherited) illness that needs treatment? Or are they more often depicted as just having a good time with friends?
What do you think is next for Cordelia, James, and Lucie? Who do you think has to suffer the most for love in Book 3?
- Author: Cassandra Clare
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: McElderry Books
- Publication date: March 2, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 688
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: March 10, 2021
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