City of Bones (Clare novel)

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City of Bones
City of Bones.jpg
First edition cover for the book "City of Bones."
AuthorCassandra Clare
Cover artistCliff Nielsen
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Mortal Instruments
GenreFantasy adventure
Urban fantasy
Set inNew York, August 2007
PublisherMargaret K. McElderry
Publication date
March 27, 2007 (U.S.)
July 2, 2007 (UK)
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages485pp (hardback, first edition) 512 pp (paperback)
Followed byCity of Ashes 

City of Bones is the first urban fantasy book in author Cassandra Clare's New York Times bestselling series The Mortal Instruments. The novel is set in modern-day New York City and has been released in several languages, including Bulgarian, Hebrew, Polish and Japanese.


Clary goes to the Pandemonium club with her best friend, Simon Lewis, where she sees a blue-haired boy and a black-haired girl sneak into a storeroom, pursued by two other boys; one armed with what appears to be a knife. She sends Simon for help and she follows the group into the storeroom, where she witnesses the blue-haired "boy" being killed; whereupon he vanishes from the room, with the explanation that demons "return to their home dimensions when they die." Simon enters the storeroom with the bouncer in tow and questions why she is there alone, and realizing no one else can see the others, she mumbles an apology.

When she returns home, her mother, Jocelyn, scolds her for staying out so late. The next day, Jocelyn announces that they are moving from New York City to the country for the summer where Jocelyn's best friend, Luke, has a house. Clary, upset by the unexpected move, confides in Simon that she knows almost nothing about her mother or her entire family. Simon mentions seeing thin, white scars on Jocelyn's back and shoulders, but Clary dismisses this. They go to a poetry reading where Clary sees Jace, one of the boys from the previous night, who privately tells Clary about demon-hunters, called Shadowhunters or Nephilim, and claims Clary is not a mundane (ordinary human). This is because she has the Sight, which allows her to see beings from the Shadow World. Clary answers a call from Jocelyn, who frantically warns her not to come home and to tell Luke that "he" has found her. The call ends abruptly.

After the failure to phone back, Clary returns to her house and finds it in disarray, and her mother gone. She is attacked by another demon, which she kills with Jace's Sensor; and Jace brings Clary to the "Institute": the local headquarters of the Shadowhunters, where she is introduced to two other hunters, Isabelle and Alec, and the tutor, Hodge. Since Jace marked Clary with a stele and she was unharmed, this proves that Clary has Nephilim blood, as only Nephilim may be touched by a stele and unharmed. A stele is a weapon used to kill demons and mark Shadowhunters with angelic runes that give them their powers. Jace and Clary return to Clary's house and meet her neighbor Madame Dorothea, who has a teleportation portal. To find her mother, Clary, followed by Jace, rushes through the portal, and they land at Luke's bookstore and find Simon, in search of Clary. The three hide inside the store. Luke returns with two men, Pangborn and Blackwell, whom Valentine sent to interrogate Luke about the Mortal Cup: a talisman sought by both parties. Luke claims ignorance of where Jocelyn hid the Mortal Cup and refuses to negotiate with them or interfere with Valentine's plans.

Clary and Jace, accompanied by Simon, tell Hodge what they learned, and Hodge tells them about the Circle: a group of Shadowhunters that Valentine formed to eliminate all Downworlders (vampire, werewolves, faeries, warlocks, and others), which Jocelyn, Valentine's wife, joined when she was younger. Alongside Jocelyn, Alec and Isabelle's parents also used to be Circle Members. As did Luke, who used to be called Lucian and was a Shadowhunter and the parabatai of Valentine. A parabatai is a sacred bond between two Shadowhunters.

Clary and Jace go to the Silent City to speak to the Silent Brothers, who tell them that a block in her mind prevents her from remembering the Shadow World; itself placed by a warlock named Magnus Bane.

Isabelle meanwhile has been given an invitation to a party hosted by Magnus. At the party, Clary meets Magnus, who says his spell is too complex to remove but will fade naturally if it is not reinforced every two years, and was placed at the behest of Jocelyn for Clary's protection. Alec and Magnus bond during this moment. During the party, Simon ignores Isabelle's warning and drinks a blue liquid that transforms him into a rat. Vampires take him away thinking Simon was one of their own, but Clary and Jace rescue him and restore him to human form. That night, Jace takes Clary to the Institute's greenhouse on a midnight picnic to celebrate Clary's sixteenth birthday, where Jace then kisses her.

As her memories emerge, Clary deduces that the Mortal Cup is hidden in one of Madame Dorothea's tarot cards. Clary retrieves the Cup, but the demon Abaddon has possessed Madame Dorothea and is disguised as her, as he attempts to take it. Aided by Simon, they escape and return to the Institute where Hodge hands over the Cup and an unconscious Jace to Valentine. Hodge flees, pursued by Clary. Hodge attacks her in an alleyway, but she is unexpectedly saved by Luke, who is a werewolf. While Luke's werewolf pack attacks Valentine's followers, Clary locates her mother, who is unconscious, and also finds Jace, who says Valentine identified Jace himself as his son; this dismays both Jace and Clary. This means that Jace and Clary, who were attempting to enter into a romantic relationship, are brother and sister. Valentine entices Jace to return to Idris - the Shadowhunters' home country - with him. Jace refuses, and Valentine escapes through a portal with the Cup, smashing the portal behind him.


  • Clarissa Adele "Clary" Fray/Fairchild/Morgenstern
    She is a little over 5 feet tall (5'2-5'5), thin, has bright red hair, green eyes, freckles, and is described as looking nearly identical to her mother. Clary describes herself as less attractive than Isabelle, as well as flat-chested. Clary grew up oblivious to the Shadow World and her real heritage. Jocelyn, her mother, believed that Clary should have a normal human life to shield her from Jocelyn's past. She raised Clary in New York. Clary is an artist, like her mother, often drawing her emotions in pictures - her version of a diary. She lives a very typical teenage life until her mother is kidnapped. Throughout the first trilogy, Clary embarks on a quest to help her mother while adjusting to life as a Shadowhunter. She and Jace eventually develop a mutual attraction; although the revelation that they are siblings dashes their romantic hopes.
  • Jonathan Christopher "Jace" Wayland/Morgenstern
    At the age of 10, Jace was orphaned because his father was murdered by members of the Circle. This is eventually proven to be a farce, as the man who raised him (Valentine) proves to still be alive. He was then sent to the New York Institute to live with the Lightwoods and Hodge Starkweather. There, he trained alongside Isabelle and Alec Lightwood. He views Isabelle as his sister, and he and Alec have a sacred parabatai bond. Jace grew up to be cold and arrogant to those around him. He rejected the idea of love and only believes in the art of war. Before the death of his father, Jace was brutally trained to be an expert in the arts of war. He was said to be the best Shadowhunter of his age. Jace is described as having golden hair, eyes, and skin. He is attracted to Clary but becomes horrified after discovering that they might be siblings.
  • Simon Lewis
    Clary's human best friend and essentially only friend for about 10 years. Simon only has three main interests; his band, keeping up with everything nerdy, and Clary. He is secretly in love with Clary, though she does not appear to reciprocate those feelings and is oblivious to them until he directly tells her. He is jealous that Clary shows a larger amount of affection for Jace than himself. His loyalty to Clary is unwavering, even after discovering the relationship that Clary and Jace begin to grow, Simon stays by Clary. He is described as a tall slender 16-year-old boy with black shaggy hair and brown eyes. He also wears glasses.
  • Isabelle Sophia "Izzy" Lightwood
    She is described as tall and incredibly beautiful, with black hair and eyes. However, she is also still a teenage girl. She is daughter to Robert and Maryse Lightwood and sister to Max and Alexander Lightwood. Isabelle's priorities are: family, The Clave, and herself. She is determined to be strong and fight whomever in order to obtain what she wants. She is ruthless when it comes to protecting her family. On the surface she may seem like she is self-absorbed; however, throughout the novel, she grows into a much more complex character. It is also evident in the first book that she does not share her families or Shadowhunters prejudices towards Downworlders, as she enters into a relationship with the fairy Meliorn and befriends Magnus.
  • Alexander Gideon "Alec" Lightwood
    Alec is the eldest son of the Lightwoods; therefore, he carries much of the responsibility of the siblings. Having just become an adult, Alec was expected to take care of his siblings and look over the Institute while his parents are away. Throughout the book, he is constantly struggling with what is right by his family and friends and what is right by the law. Alec's self-esteem was very low at the beginning of the novel, which makes him lash out at Clary and other characters. He has black hair and blue eyes. Alec is gay but is afraid to come out due to the stigma of other Shadowhunters. However, Clary confronts him about the fact that he is gay, and Isabelle reveals she also knew. Alec claims to be in love with Jace, this is because Jace is a safe option since parabatai are not legally allowed to be in relationships. He is also jealous of Clary over Jace's affection for her. There are scenes indicating the budding relationship between Alec and the Warlock, Magnus Bane.
  • Luke Garroway/Lucian Graymark
    Once a Shadowhunter and a former member of the Circle, a group started by Valentine Morgenstern. He is Jocelyn's best friend and seems to be in love with her, though he has yet to declare it. Because of his close relationship with Jocelyn, Clary considers him a father figure. Luke became a werewolf when Valentine betrayed him. He has since become a pack leader twice (in Paris and in New York).
  • Valentine Morgenstern
    A powerful, evil Shadowhunter, he reappears after years in hiding, during which he was presumed dead. His mission is to rid the world of Downworlders and turn Mundanes, willingly or not, into Shadowhunters despite the fact that the process may kill them. He attempts to steal the Mortal Cup from his former wife, Jocelyn. He tells Jace and Clary that they are both his and Jocelyn's children.
  • Magnus Bane
    The High Warlock of Brooklyn, who has a romantic interest in Alec Lightwood. When his name is found imprinted inside Clary's mind, Clary and her allies seek him out to uncover his connection to her past and her mother. He saved Alec from death when the latter was injured by a Greater Demon.
  • Hodge Starkweather
    Isabelle, Alec, and Jace's eccentric tutor, who, in the end, he's found to be a follower of Valentine. He was originally in the Circle with Valentine, and as punishment, he was banished to the Institute where he was unable to leave.
  • Jocelyn Fray/Fairchild/Morgenstern
    Clary's mother and a former Shadowhunter seeking protection from the Shadow World as a means of protecting Clary from Valentine, her estranged husband. An artist, Jocelyn is described as elegant and beautiful, with long red hair darker than Clary's. She hid the Mortal Cup (one of the three Mortal Instruments) so that no one else could claim it or disclose its location, leaving subtle clues that only her daughter, Clary, would be able to decipher. When she found two-year-old Clary playing with faeries, Jocelyn sought Magnus Bane's help and every two years he cast a spell on Clary's mind that shielded her from seeing the Shadowhunter world. She was abducted by Valentine in hopes of discovering where she hid the Mortal Cup, Jocelyn is eventually found by Clary in a potion-induced coma, and is taken to the hospital.

Shadowhunter Position[edit]

A secret race that is responsible for protecting Mundanes (people without the Sight to see the Shadow World). The main purpose and most important duty of the Shadowhunters are tracking down, capturing, and eliminating all Demons. This specific group is a combination of the Angel Raziel's blood and Human blood, also known as Nephilim, which gives them strength and agility, as well as allow them to wield angelic blades and draw runes onto their skin that grant them additional abilities (i.e. strength, speed, invisibility). They descent from Jonathan Shadowhunter and his followers, who drank the blood of the Angel Raziel. [1]


Critical reception for City of Bones was mostly positive,[2][3] with Publishers Weekly calling the book "a compelling story".[4] Teen Ink gave a mixed review, stating that the book was "addicting" [sic] but that parts of the book were quite predictable.[5] The School Library Journal also criticized the book's predictability, but wrote that "Despite the narrative flaws, this version of New York, full of Buffyesque teens who are trying to save the world, is entertaining and will have fantasy readers anxiously awaiting the next book in the series."[6]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Locus Award Nominee for Best First Novel 2008[7]
  • Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee for Honor Book 2009[8]
  • Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader's Choice Award 2010[9]

Film adaptation[edit]

The film adaptation was released August 21, 2013, directed by Harald Zwart and starring Lily Collins as Clary Fray and Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland. The film was shot in Toronto and New York.[10]

Allusions to other works[edit]

In the novel, Cassandra Clare includes references to the works of Holly Black, who is a friend of Clare's.

  • At the beginning of the book, Clary is drawing and listening to a band called Stepping Razor. Stepping Razor is the name of Ellen Fierch's band in Holly Black's book, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale.
  • In the scene in Chapter 10 where Clary and Jace are riding in the carriage, Clary looks out the window and sees a few homeless teenagers. One of them is a girl with a shaved head, the other a boy with dreadlocks and facial piercings who appears to be blind in one eye. These teenagers are actually the characters Valerie and Luis from Black's book Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie.

She also includes references to the works of Philip Reeve, whose works Mortal Engines and Infernal Devices she drew inspiration from. Her inclusion of the antagonist Valentine, who is later revealed to be the father of Clary, is a nod to Philip Reeve's antagonist in Mortal Engines of the same name, who is also discovered to be the father of one of the main characters.[11]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-21. Retrieved 2015-01-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Locus - "The Mortal Instruments, Book One: City of Bones", Faren Miller, June 2007
  3. ^ "Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare Read more: Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare". KidzWorld. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  4. ^ "City of Bones". Publishers Weekly. April 9, 2007. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  5. ^ "City of Bones (Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare". Teen Ink. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  6. ^ Campbell, Heather. "Grades 5 & Up". School Library Journal. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2013-03-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Reeve, Philip. Mortal engines. ISBN 9781407189147. OCLC 1043938618.

External links[edit]