City of Glass: The Mortal Instruments, Book 3

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
City of Glass: The Mortal Instruments, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Exciting, violent series cycle concludes with a bang.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 44 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Readers can think about how the author's version of vampire, werewolf, angel, and fairy lore differs from other books, and how it's the same. They'll also find quotes from the Bible, Milton's Paradise Lost, and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night tied into the section heads. Fantasy fans will race through this installment and be on to the next book in the series before you know it. Could lead to some interesting discussions about book series, and the difference between fantasy and realistic violence. See our "Families Can Talk About" section for some ideas.

Positive Messages

Some classic good versus evil stuff as a brother and sister fight against their power-hungry father. The series also ponders what makes a family and binds people to each other. There's also an exploration of overcoming prejudice -- half-angel characters need to set aside their differences with other races (vampires, werewolves, fairies) to ensure their survival.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adults, especially government officials, squabble and hold on to prejudices until the teen main characters set them straight. Clary and Isabelle are both strong female characters who fight for their families. Jace and Clary both show great heroism, especially when facing and fighting evil within their own family.


Lots -- throat slittings, decapitations, stabbings, bone-snapping, strangling, sword fights, injuries and deaths of major and minor characters, including inter-familial killings and killing of children. An angel, tortured for years with horrible results, commits suicide, a living man's heart is ripped out, semi-human creatures are tortured, a monster attempts to rape a girl.


Some passionate kissing and making out in bedrooms with shirts coming off, a character is gay and kisses a man, two other characters have what they (and readers) believe to be an incestuous relationship -- love is professed, but not acted on.


"Bitch," "bastard."


Video game, car, soft drink, snack food brands mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink wine in one scene.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byanimallover120 June 28, 2020

Gruesome violent fantasy book

this book was filled with lots of violence and action with language. i disliked it a lot. I let my 18 year old read it and man he said it was filthier than anyt... Continue reading
Adult Written byrebekahF July 16, 2011

A fantasy world that I would LOVE to live in!

I didn't think i was going to find a series BETTER then the Hunger games until this series came along! From the start, it had me hooked! I fell in love wit... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byShowman movie13 June 24, 2020

The most violent, yet, but is very interesting, too

This book was the most interesting out of the three but yet also the most violent one, too. This book had lots of things that confused me even more. Almost at t... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 7, 2010

Good for teen or preteens

I love it! It was a book for kids that like trills and chills and love, if you read this you will fall in love with Jace or Clary!

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and romance

Top advice and articles

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.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate