A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's lots of bloody violence, including lots of killing and injuries -- see content grid for details. There's also some kissing and making out, a major character is gay, and there's a relationship that appears to be incestuous. Some parents may be bothered by the religious aspects of the story -- angels and demons exist, an angel is tortured and commits suicide, another angel is summoned by a human, and the Shadowhunters have a mandate from God to kill demons.
What's the story?
In this conclusion to the Mortal Instruments trilogy (the conclusion to the first cycle of three anyway), Clary makes her way to the hidden Shadowhunter country of Idris, seeking a cure to her mother's magical affliction. While there, her father delivers an ultimatum to the Shadowhunter ruling council: declare him their leader, or he will use the Mortal Instruments to unleash a plague of demons and wipe them out. Meanwhile, Clary struggles to learn how to use her unique powers, discover her secret heritage, and figure out her relationship with her maybe-brother, Jace.
Is it any good?
Derivative, predictable, and melodramatic can be good things when they're played for fun and done well, and this is done really well. Action, horror, complexity, romance, twists that aren't too hard to see coming, mysteries the reader will figure out before the characters -- they're all here, in just the right amounts, and mostly with just the right pacing, though, like most 500+ page books, it sags in places.
It's easy to find things to criticize: the climactic battle happens offstage; the religious and incestuous aspects may disturb some; there's a fair bit of repetition. But with characters who grow ever more satisfying, a cleverly detailed fantasy world, a thoroughly engrossing writing style, and a host of questions from the earlier books answered before the end, fans of the series will find this everything they had hoped for. And if you haven't read the first two books? Don't even think of trying this.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the classic creatures used here. Why are vampires and werewolves always popular? How are they different here from the Twilight series?
Families can also talk about the violence in this book, and the whole series. Books 2 and 3 are especially bloody. Do you think the fantasy element makes the gore easier to handle?
The series seems to neatly end here, yet the author released a fourth book (part of a second cycle of three) and a prequel series -- starting with Clockwork Angel -- besides. There's also talk of a movie deal. Do you think more is better, or would you rather the series ended here?
For kids who love fantasy and romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.