This book counts towards the Shifter challenge.
Clary is trying to cope with her new life. Her mother is in a coma, her father, Valentine, might be a homicidal and sadistic killer, her best friend Simon is in love with her, her father-figure is a werewolf, and she might or might not be in love with her brother Jace.
At the same time, a mysterious killer is draining children of their blood, and Clary and Jace suspect Valentine may be up to something...
It just felt like kind of a placeholder to me. Like Clare needed something to put between books one and three, in order to set up a few plot points, but didn't have enough material to make a real novel. It was much slower and less climatic and even less funny than the first, which was disappointing.
Again, it seemed like Clare needed to reveal some information before book three, but there just wasn't enough happening for an exciting, fulfilling plot. First of all, it was much more predictable than the first book, even cliche. There were no real surprises for me. Also, the Clary-Jace thing is just a little icky to me, and the Simon-Clary thing seems awkward and fake, and as a result I'm not emotionally invested in the love triangle. I just had a hard time staying interested in the plot.
The romance is a little awkward. Jace's quips get a little stale. And there's a character called the Inquisitor who is absolutely awful. Her lines are cliche, her actions bizarre and erratic, and her characterization really, really lacking.
That said, the other characters aren't bad. Clary and Jace are alright, Simon is actually pretty sweet, and some of the side characters are pretty cool. Magnus Bane, in particular, really shines. The man deserves his own series.
Although I feel like the book itself didn't have as much to offer, plot- or character-wise, I remain a fan of Clare's style and enjoy her writing.
End Result: three stars. A good book, but not amazingly excellent.