City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, #5) — Cassandra Clare

September 6, 2018

City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, #5)

TITLE: City of Lost Souls
AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare
SERIES: The Mortal Instruments, #5
RELEASED: May 8th, 2012; Margaret Ferguson Books
GENRE: Fantasy

SYNOPSIS: When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?


book 1 | book 2 | book 3 | book 4

I’ve loved this series since the first book, but what really stood out to me in this fifth book is how much darker the tone suddenly got. It’s not just the events that happened in the book, but the world itself feels much bleaker and there’s a slow-building sense of dread, which makes sense, as our little team begins to prepare themselves for a war unlike anything they’ve seen so far.

“There are some people — people the universe seems to have singled out for special destinies. Special favors and special torments. God knows we’re all drawn toward what’s beautiful and broken; I have been, but some people cannot be fixed. Or if they can be, it’s only by love and sacrifice so great it destroys the giver.”


Even among characters who usually take on every scenario with a smile, there’s this anxiety building up, this urgent tension that bleeds right off the pages. If nothing else, it‘s a terrific example of how far Cassandra Clare’s writing has progressed. Everything is more authentic and three-dimensional, the stakes are getting higher with each misstep and twist, and it’s just… fantastic. I think this may have been my favorite book in the series so far, and I could barely stand to put it down.

“How was the Seelie Queen?”
“Same as usual.”
“Raging bitch, then?”
“Pretty much.”

It wouldn’t be a Shadowhunters book without some absolutely adorable character moments, banter for days, and loads of development in personalities, though. Simon and Izzy, both having been characters I did not like at all in the first two books, had me 100% in love with both of them by this end of this one. Simon has come into his own so well as the Daylighter—as this protective, self-sacrificing, noble little hero—and Izzy is so tough, such a rock for her loved ones. There’s a scene where Izzy is described as “a mother cub defending her young”, and that perfectly sums up how I view her relationship with her loved ones.

“Speaking of hope, did you see that shot Alec got off with his bow? That’s my boyfriend.”

Of course, I can’t review this one without discussing Alec and Magnus. Some of the incidents between these two—especially involving Alec—broke my heart over and over. I know it’s hard to be in Alec’s position, but Magnus is forevermore my sweet little bisexual warlock baby, and I wanted to climb into the book and slap the shit out of Alec a few times. Either way, I think this was the most time we’ve gotten to spend with Magnus in any book in the series so far, and I was here for it, okay?

“I don’t care. He’d do it for me. Tell me he wouldn’t. If I were missing—”
“He’d burn the whole world down till he could dig you out of the ashes.”

Finally… Clary and Jace. Where do I even begin? My heart hurts for them. Everything in the world has conspired against their happiness, yet still they fight for each other, and it’s so precious. Before I started this series, if you had told me they would become one of my all-time favorite OTPs, I would have laughed in disbelief, but here we are. I love the romances that Cassandra Clare builds, and the agonizingly slow, angsty progression between Clary and Jace has to be my favorite.

She turned and looked at him. “Ducks?”
A smile tugged the edge of his mouth. “I hate ducks. Don’t know why. I just always have.”

Jace has grown so much from his self-obsessed little asshole self (though let’s be real, I loved him then, too), and Clary has become this powerhouse of a character. It describes her perfectly when the other Shadowhunters say that Clary essentially charges into any given situation, regardless of risk, and finds a way to fight through it. She never lets anyone tell her “no”, and she always mucks things up a bit along the way, but she always makes it right by the end. She’s a tremendously unlikely heroine, and I love her for it.

“Kill me, little sister.”

The last thing I wanted to touch on is Sebastian, and his entire arc as a villain. Based on the actions of Valentine in the first few books, I suppose I expected Sebastian to feel predictable-but-fun in the same way, but honestly, he’s so much more complex and mentally broken than his father was. While I can appreciate the writing of his character, I can’t fathom why so many people seem to root for him; but either way, one thing I’m sure of is that I positively dread seeing what he comes up with next.

Content warnings for attempted rape, homophobia, and slut-shaming (all challenged).




More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. I’m honestly so glad you’re enjoying these ? and I’m loving these reviews! ? takes me back to when I first read them (5 years ago holy CRAP feels like forever)

    1. CLACE 4EVER!!! Haha, I’m so glad your’e aboard the Clace ship! 😉 You just can’t HELP but ship them!! I love reading your reviews of these books, as I read them SO long ago I don’t remember all the fine details anymore but I still know I love this series to pieces~
      Also I am very much one of those Team Sebastian people. I adore him so much – one of my favorite villains EVER tbh! As you said he’s just so mentally broken and so complex – so I can see why you dislike him – but for that very reason, I find him fascinating to read about! Ah, I’m wanting to reread this series now~~~~

      1. Bahaha yesss! I love them so much, they’re so freaking cute and angsty and swoon-worthy. <3 I'm glad you love them, too! And thank you for reading the reviews! I know a lot of bloggers do full-series reviews for series like this that are already completed, but I wanted to do individual ones and it makes me really happy to hear that people have enjoyed reading them individually. 🙂
        Ohhh, I see what you mean! That actually makes sense, how you worded it – I thought people were like… I don't know how to describe it, but basically saying what he did wasn't bad? If that makes sense! And that shocked me because the big thing he does in this book to Clary had me like, "Omg, how do people think this is a good thing?!" But when you put it in the perspective of loving him as a villain, it makes more sense to me. ??

        1. I think individual reviews are much better than a full series review – especially for one as long as Mortal Instruments! Theres so much content and its nice to read reviews about each book. 🙂
          LOL I’m glad I could enlighten you a bit! To me, what Sebastian really wants (deep down….) is to be loved. He never had a family to love him, so he doesn’t know what love is or how to express that feeling, but he wants its. He wants his sister to love him (even if he does it by unconventional means….) and he wants his “brother” Jace to love in in a way, too. In that sense, I pity Sebastian…. but also not so much, since he does some pretty evil things. The psychological aspect of it is fascinating to me and you almost can see logic in some of the things he does, just….not in the morally correct way ^^; I remember City of Lost Souls being my favorite in the Sebastian arc, I really feel like I should reread it ahhhhh! 😉

          1. Agreed! <3
            Aww, you are so right, honestly. That is one thing I came to realize right there at the end – he's never been loved and every kid deserves to feel loved and wanted. It did actually break my heart a bit when Jocelyn tried to kill him. Imagine your own mother hating you and wishing you were dead. 🙁 Poor thing. I still don't like a lot of what he did, but when you put it like that, you're right, he is worthy of garnering some pity! 🙁

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