City of Ashes
Goodreads ratings
4.17 / 5

"City of Ashes" Summary

By Cassandra Clare

fantasy | 453 pages | Published in 2008

Also see: Alternate Cover Editions for this ISBN [ACE] ACE #1 Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

Clary Fray discovers the truth about her family and must navigate a dangerous world of demons and shadowhunters to save her mother.


"Cassandra Clare's City of Ashes is the second book in The Mortal Instruments series, a captivating young adult urban fantasy series. The book continues the journey of Clary Fray, who discovers a world filled with shadowhunters, demons, and warlocks. Set in contemporary New York City, the story blends the supernatural with the everyday, creating a thrilling and immersive narrative. In this summary, we'll delve into the plot, characters, main events, themes, and insights of City of Ashes, providing a comprehensive overview of this compelling novel.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview

City of Ashes picks up where the first book left off, with Clary Fray still coming to terms with her newfound identity as a shadowhunter. Jace, her love interest, is dealing with a personal crisis, and the mysterious Valentine continues to pose a threat to the shadowhunter world. As the story unfolds, Clary, Jace, and their friends find themselves embroiled in a complex web of intrigue, betrayal, and magical conflict.


The story is primarily set in modern-day New York City, but it also ventures into the shadowhunter realm of Idris, a secretive and magical land hidden from the mortal world. The contrast between the familiar urban landscape of New York and the enigmatic realm of Idris adds depth and richness to the setting, creating a captivating backdrop for the unfolding events.

Main Events

The narrative of City of Ashes unfolds with a series of captivating events that drive the story forward. Here are some of the main events that shape the plot:

Clary's continued discovery of her abilitiesClary delves deeper into her shadowhunter heritage and learns to harness her unique powers.
Jace's inner turmoil and conflictJace grapples with personal demons and struggles to come to terms with his past and identity.
Valentine's nefarious schemesThe shadowhunters confront Valentine's dangerous plans, leading to high-stakes confrontations.
Intrigue and betrayal within the shadowhunter communityThe shadowhunter world is rife with deception and betrayal, testing the characters' loyalties.
Confrontation with powerful demonsClary and her friends face off against formidable demonic adversaries, testing their courage.

Main Characters

The diverse cast of characters in City of Ashes brings depth and complexity to the story. Here are the main characters and brief descriptions of their roles:

Clary FrayThe protagonist, a headstrong and determined young woman discovering her shadowhunter heritage.
Jace WaylandA charismatic and enigmatic shadowhunter, grappling with his past and his feelings for Clary.
Simon LewisClary's loyal friend, who becomes entangled in the shadowhunter world, facing his own challenges.
Isabelle LightwoodA bold and confident shadowhunter, skilled in combat and fiercely protective of her loved ones.
Alec LightwoodIsabelle's brother, a reserved and dedicated shadowhunter, struggling with his own personal battles.
Valentine MorgensternA formidable and manipulative figure with a dark agenda that threatens the shadowhunter world.

Themes and Insights

City of Ashes explores several compelling themes and provides insightful perspectives on various aspects of human experience and emotion. Some of the prominent themes and insights include:

Identity and Heritage

The novel delves into the exploration of identity and heritage, as Clary grapples with her newfound shadowhunter lineage and the impact it has on her sense of self. The characters' struggles with their identities provide thought-provoking insights into the complexities of self-discovery.

Loyalty and Betrayal

The theme of loyalty and betrayal is intricately woven throughout the narrative, as characters navigate the intricate web of alliances and deceptions within the shadowhunter world. The exploration of trust and duplicity adds layers of tension and suspense to the story.

Love and Sacrifice

Romantic entanglements and selfless acts of sacrifice form a significant part of the novel's emotional landscape. The complexities of love and the willingness to make sacrifices for the greater good are explored with depth and nuance, resonating with readers on an emotional level.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers of City of Ashes are treated to a captivating blend of supernatural intrigue, emotional depth, and pulse-pounding action. The book's richly developed characters, intricate plot, and evocative themes make for a compelling and immersive reading experience. As readers journey through the pages of City of Ashes, they are sure to find themselves engrossed in a world where the supernatural collides with the ordinary, creating a tapestry of adventure, emotion, and discovery.


In City of Ashes, Cassandra Clare continues to weave a spellbinding tale that will enchant readers with its vivid imagery, dynamic characters, and thought-provoking themes. The novel's seamless blend of urban fantasy and contemporary drama makes it a must-read for fans of the genre. As the story unfolds, readers will find themselves drawn into a world where the boundaries between the mundane and the magical blur, creating a narrative that is as enchanting as it is unforgettable.

City of Ashes FAQ

  1. What is the genre of City of Ashes?

    City of Ashes is a young adult fantasy novel that falls into the urban fantasy and supernatural fiction genres.

  2. Is City of Ashes part of a series?

    Yes, City of Ashes is the second book in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

  3. Do I need to read the first book before City of Ashes?

    It is highly recommended to read the first book, City of Bones, before diving into City of Ashes as it continues the story and character development.

  4. What is the main storyline of City of Ashes?

    City of Ashes follows the protagonist, Clary Fray, as she delves deeper into the world of Shadowhunters and battles dark forces threatening the world.

  5. Are there supernatural creatures in City of Ashes?

    Yes, City of Ashes features various supernatural creatures such as werewolves, vampires, and warlocks, adding to the fantastical elements of the story.