I feel like Cassandra Clare books are always a highlight of my year in terms of reading. They are a mix of major anticipation, crazy emotions, and never ending nostalgia. I know there will be a day when we won’t have more books in the Shadowhunters’ universe, but for now I’m always excited for a new entry in this world! This is a sequel review, so there are definite spoilers ahead for Chain of Gold (see that review here), and potential spoilers for Chain of Iron.
Chain of Iron picks up from Chain of Gold’s heartbreaking cliffhanger of James and Cordelia getting engaged to save her reputation, and Grace of course sliding that bracelet of hers back onto James’ wrist. We literally had the two defeat a demon, and then acknowledge their feelings only to have Grace mess with it all over again. We also leave Lucie as she becomes even more determined to bring Jessie back to life, Alistair’s past of bullying hanging over him, Matthew hiding his feelings for Cordelia, Thomas hating Alistair, and Anna being hurt by Ariadne’s decision. To put it simply, lots of heartbreak all around.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I went into this book knowing there would be some serious emotion coming with it. I was primarily a Jordelia shipper in the first book so when that book ended the way it did I felt like my heart had stopped. I also knew that Grace would be a much greater focus in this installment than she had been before, so I was taking a big deep breath before cracking Chain of Iron open. To be fair, I’ve been ending Cassandra Clare books completely floored these last years, so I knew this would definitely follow that going pattern and leave me a mess.
If you’ve read any of Clare’s books at this point, I’d say one of her strongest points in her writing are her characters. The prose, world, and plot are all phenomenal, but the characters are always what strike me as I’m reading, and even as I finish each of her books. The Last Hours so far has been just as great with its characters, though I feel like so many more characters this time are about to leave me heartbroken with everything that’s happened to them. James and Cordelia of course are just going to leave me a sad mess with each of these books, but Matthew really got me in this one. I think overall he’s the fandom’s favorite male character before or after James in the series depending on who you talk to, and for good reason. He’s got a good heart, he’s hurting, and uses humor to hide and defend it, so essentially he is the one character everyone just wants to hug. That isn’t to say though, that the other characters aren’t just as lovable, Alistair is a big example of character growth in this book, we find out more about Anna, Thomas gets a lot more screen time, Christopher continues to blow things up, and Lucie works hard to help out Jesse. It’s really hard to not find a character in this book that doesn’t have some level of lovability unless you are looking at Grace. I didn’t like Grace at the close of Chain of Gold, but this book made me want to hurt her. It’s one thing to mess with a relationship the way she did, but slowly we discover that it is oh so much worse and harmful than that. I’ll leave it at that so no spoilers, just know that the hate Grace train leaves the station in book 1 and book 2 is like full throttle of it. I’ve never disliked a character as much as her, and while I can admire Clare’s backstory of her, I just kept going ‘that doesn’t make it better’.
One of my favorite moments of the book is when Cordelia and James arrive at their new home and Clare begins to describe the little details of the house. This is a big moment for the characters and their now shared life, even taking into account the deal they made, so the touches of both their personalities and heritages decorating each of the rooms was well done, and had me awing the whole time. It’s also a good way to point out how well Clare can not only have great prose in her books, but great world building, as well as pacing. The addictive quality of these books is not lost on me, since I inhale most of her books now, but one of the big factors is that the pacing never feels slow. We hit moments like these where it’s like stopping to smell the roses, but as a reader you don’t feel it. Instead you are living for the new details coming your way.
I love getting a new Cassandra Clare book any day, but this one was an amazing read, and as always worth the hype in my opinion. I’m still freaking out over the ending as always, but I think I’ll make it to March next year. Have you read Chain of Iron? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!