City of Bones Summary

Cassandra Clare

City of Bones

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City of Bones Summary

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City of Bones is an urban fantasy/adventure novel, written by Cassandra Clare in 2007. It is the first in the series The Mortal Instruments. The novel received mostly positive criticism. although it was often called predictable in nature. It was adapted into a film in 2013, but this failed to live up to the novel’s reputation, flopping on almost all accounts. City of Bones makes use of several themes, including multiple versions of reality, revenge, religion, prejudice, jealousy, love, appearance, duty, and art and culture. Runes, weapons, instruments, and angels versus demons all appear to provide symbolic significance.

As the story begins, a normal, teenage girl, Clary Fray, is out at an all-ages club, Pandemonium, with her best friend Simon when her life is changed forever. Clary notices and is fascinated by a boy who has blue hair and green eyes. The boy notices a beautiful girl come near him, and he follows her into a closet. Two other boys, one with a knife, follow the pair into the closet. Clary is the only witness as the girl and two boys kill the boy with blue hair. Even stranger, she realises that no one else in the club can see the three teens in the closet, so she pretends to have imagined it.

After, she follows one of the boys outside to confront him about what she saw. He tells her he is a shadowhunter named Jace, and that what he killed was a demon. He explains that normal humans cannot see him because he has cast a ‘glamour’ to be invisible. This, he says, proves that Clary is no ordinary girl.

The next day, Clary is out with Simon again when she receives a cryptic phone call from her mother, telling her not to come home. When she does, Clary finds her mother missing and her entire home trashed. She is attacked by a demon, and it stings her with demon poison. She somehow manages to kill the demon with a device she managed to get from Jace, but she is hit on the back of her head and passes out.

Clary wakes up in a sanctuary for shadowhunters in New York, called the Institute. Jace has brought her there to treat the poison. She finds out that her mother was once a shadowhunter and belonged to a group called the Circle, led by a man named Valentine. He has returned and is searching for something called the Mortal Cup, which can turn any human into a shadowhunter, should the human survive the transformation. This man has kidnapped Clary’s mom. Hodge, a man who is being punished for his participation in the Circle and cannot leave the Institute and Jeremiah, a Silent Brother tell Clary there is a powerful spell blocking her memories from her mind. To find out more about her memories, she must go to the City of Bones.

Clary and Jace, along with the other two shadowhunters she had seen before, Alec and Isabelle, leave on a quest to find the Mortal Cup before Valentine can. Simon, average human teenager, also tags along. In the City of Bones, the rest of the Silent Brothers try to break the spell on Clary’s mind, but fail. The name Magnus Bane comes to her, and is believed to be significant. They find Bane, who admits putting the spell on Clary, at the express instructions of Clary’s mother, but cannot break it. Simon is suddenly turned into a rat from drinking an unknown poison, but Bane can’t help with that either, because humans don’t deal well with magic. Simon the rat is stolen by a vampire, and Clary and Jace quickly find the lair to get Simon back. There is a fight, and werewolves appear too, but they escape with Simon, who turns back into a human.

There is a developing romantic relationship between Jace and Clary, one that Simon can’t stand. Simon has loved Clary for years, but Clary never noticed, and Simon never did anything about it. With Jace in the picture, Clary and Simon’s friendship is deeply damaged.

When the group finally finds the Mortal Cup, they bring it to the Institute. Hodge turns out to be a traitor, trading his loyalties for his freedom, and summoning Valentine, who takes the cup and Jace away. Hodge tries to run, but Clary chases him. Hodge attacks, but a werewolf—actually Luke, her mom’s best friend—jumps in and saves her. Clary also discovers that Valentine is actually her father, and Jace, her brother.

They hunt Valentine down, and Luke battles with him, but Valentine escapes through a magic portal. Luke takes Clary’s mother to the hospital, while Clary has to deal with the truth that she fell in love with a boy who is actually her brother, and that Simon is in love with her. The novel ends with the story far from over and Valentine still on the loose.