City of Heavenly Fire: The Mortal Instruments, Book 6

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
City of Heavenly Fire: The Mortal Instruments, Book 6 Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Fans won't mind length of mature series send-off.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 40 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

As in the rest of the series, vampire, angel, demon, fairy, and werewolf lore are combined in City of Heavenly Fire. Readers can explore how the author's version of these mythical and biblical characters compares with other stories; the author usually weaves in some mentions of classic literature and poetry. Major section headers start with pithy classic quotes and some Bible verses. There's a discussion of the sordid history of Carthage and Rome -- used as a warning against cruel treatment of the enemy no one heeds.

Positive Messages

Good versus evil is always at the heart of the struggle, though even with Nephilim and demons opposing each other it's not always black and white. There are those in-between -- faeries, werewolves, vampires -- who often have trouble picking sides, especially since they face a fantasy-world version of racism; most Nephilim consider themselves superior beings to everyone else. Bravery, love, friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice all have​ been big themes of the series and are especially important here as the Mortal Instruments series wraps up.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Much talk about how much Jace, after a challenging upbringing, has grown into someone who trusts and loves others. He takes on his heroic role with fierce loyalty to Clary and to his friends. Clary remains a strong leading character. The relationship between Alec and Magnus takes on much more prominence and complexity here than gay relationships are normally given. Alec has started to embrace his sexuality, despite what he believes his parents think. Also unique to fantasy, author Cassandra Clare introduces a 10-year-old autistic character -- Tiberius -- who will figure more prominently into The Dark Artifices series.


There's usually plenty of blood -- and ichor or demon blood -- spilled in this series. Expect a few gory scenes including a demon's death with a "jumbled mass of steaming internal organs pouring out," and a werewolf's eyes being clawed and then the claws being "covered in blood and smears of liquid brain matter and vitreous humor." There also are deaths and a couple decapitations in battle scenes and some sad deaths from stabbings. Shadowhunters must fight against and kill former loved ones who were "turned" by drinking from a demon cup; a child must kill the shell of his own father, and there's talk of a man committing suicide after having to kill his turned best friend. The heroes face kidnapping and imprisonment, plus there are a few nasty injuries from demons, fire, and a stabbing. Talk of many werewolves and Shadowhunters turned or killed en masse. Much talk of the heroes missing their brother Max, who was killed in a previous book. An 11-year-old girl looks at pictures of her parents dead on a beach. A mention that baby Jace was cut out of the body of his dead mother.


Clary and Jace -- both almost 17-- have sex for the first time, with mention of a condom being unwrapped as well as naked bodies. More couples, two straight and one gay, kiss and get a bit passionate rolling around together. A faerie queen gets out of bed with her lover and walks around naked. Plenty of jokingly bawdy banter among friends about characters going off and having sex and the walk of shame. The evil Sebastian makes it known that he would like to have an incestuous relationship with his sister Clary.


Some uses of "bastard" and "bitch" but mostly versions of "goddamn" and "hell."


Dungeons & Dragons and Xbox come up a few times, as do quick mentions of Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond, World of Warcraft, and Facebook. A memorable scene takes place after hours in a Toys"R"Us.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Simon's given spiked blood and falls asleep drunk. There's wine at a party as well as wine brought out in a cave hideout that older teens drink, plus champagne at a wedding that everyone drinks. A vampire smokes a cigarette (noting that the undead don't have to worry about cancer).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series has always been meant for more mature teen readers. But the sexual content is a bit more mature in City of Heavenly Fire and the previous installment, City of Lost Souls, than in the others. Here main characters have sex for the first time (with a condom), and other couples -- straight and gay -- do plenty of kissing and rolling around together. The series continues to be bloody and violent, with some truly gory moments -- guts spilling, heads rolling -- and some profoundly sad ones, such as when a 12-year-old boy must kill his own father because his father drank out of a cup that "turned" him evil. There are more sad deaths, mostly by stabbing, and some battle scenes and talk of massacres. The older teen characters drink wine together. They also fight alongside one another, showing loyalty, friendship, and bravery -- big themes of the series. Clare includes a gay relationship with all the complexity and then some of a straight one -- which is rare, especially for a fantasy series. She also introduces her first autistic character, Tiberius, who will figure more prominently in her follow-up series, The Dark Artifices

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byabbacus June 23, 2014

In a word: EPIC!!!!!

I absolutely LOVE The Mortal Instruments series. Clare is my favorite modern author by far. I have so many mixed emotions about the series ending. I think it ha... Continue reading
Adult Written byDaniel L. August 1, 2020

mature themes

M: mature theme, sex, violence and language
Kid, 12 years old June 19, 2014

Great Finish To The Series!

City Of Heavenly Fire was awesome! I loved it soooooo much! It was a little bit more gory then the other books and there were 2 times when some people had sex b... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byKy_likes_pie September 12, 2015

Great conclusion to a great series!!

Be prepared for my long, long, review...

This whole series is amazing, I was up late reading this book. I got sucked into the world of these Shadowhunters. Ea... Continue reading

What's the story?

Sebastian, Clary's brother who was made evil with demon blood by their father, Valentine, has some truly diabolical plans in store. Shadowhunters in the city of Alicante are shivering in their combat boots as Sebastian ransacks institutes all over the world, forcing Shadowhunters to drink from the Infernal Cup. The contents turn them evil and soulless -- perfect additions to Sebastian's growing army. No one's willing to believe that Shadowhunters they once knew and loved can't be turned back -- until they face them in battle and more Shadowhunters die at their hands. There's nothing Sebastian fears anymore except for Jace, who, through some magic of Clary's "stele" (a blade that carves magic symbols), has heavenly fire running in his veins. Sebastian knows this is the one thing that can kill him, which is why he demands that Clary and Jace join his side or the whole world will be destroyed. They have two days to decide. But no way is Jace waiting around to be claimed. He gathers up Clary and their friends Isabelle, Alec, and Simon and seek him out where his power is strongest. It's a path that, not surprisingly, leads them straight to hell.

Is it any good?

This YA fantasy is too long -- but amid far too much of the characters' internal dialogue and remembrances of the good and bad times of the past five books, it's got a satisfying end for fans. Guess what will finally happen with Clary and Jace? And for Alec and Magnus it's nice to see such a dramatic and complex story line for gay characters who usually get the briefest of mentions, if they exist at all. Simon's life takes a surprising turn in the tense climax -- stay tuned. The stakes are about as high as they can be for both the characters whom readers love and the whole world. This is an exciting send-off. 

But this isn't good-bye, not really. Cassandra Clare carefully introduces new characters for her next series, The Dark Artifices. As Emma grows up, she'll be another strong heroine -- just like Clary and Tessa.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the long-running Mortal Instruments series (six books) and its spin-offs: Infernal Devices (three books) and The Dark Artifices (launching in 2015). What's appealing about already knowing the fantasy world of Shadowhunters before you pick up the next installment? Will you read them all?

  • Author Cassandra Clare introduces her first autistic character, Tiberius, in City of Heavenly Fire. Which characteristics does she give him? Are there any autistic people in your life -- at school or in your family? How is Tiberius different from or similar to those you may know?

  • If you could be a Shadowhunter, vampire, werewolf, or faerie, which would you be? Why?

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