City of Bones (Clare novel)

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This article is about the novel. For the film adaptation of the novel, see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
City of Bones
City of Bones.jpg
First edition cover for the book "City of Bones."
Author Cassandra Clare
Cover artist Cliff Nielsen
Country United States
Language English
Series The Mortal Instruments
Genre Fantasy Adventure
Set in New York, March 2007
Publisher Margaret K. McElderry
Publication date
March 27, 2007 (U.S.)
July 2, 2007 (UK)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 585pp (hardback, first edition) 512 pp (paperback)
ISBN ISBN 978-1-4169-5507-8
Followed by City of Ashes

City of Bones is the first urban fantasy book in the New York Times bestselling The Mortal Instruments series set in modern New York City written by Cassandra Clare. The novel has been released in several languages, including Dutch, Hungarian, Hebrew, Swedish, German, Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Turkish.


Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray goes to the Pandemonium Club with her best friend, Simon Lewis. Inside, she sees a blue haired boy and a gorgeous black haired girl sneaking off to be alone in a storeroom. Then she notices two boys following them into the storeroom and one of them is armed with what appears to be a knife. No one else seems to notice them, but she gets Simon to go for help and then decides to follow the group into the storeroom. At first glance it appears to be empty, but she is suddenly able to see them. She listens to a bizarre conversation about demons and then witnesses the blue haired "boy" being killed. However, after he is killed he somehow vanishes from the room. The explanation she is given is that demons "return to their home dimensions when they die." (Clare, 2013, p. 15) Before she can really begin to understand what she has seen and heard, Simon enters the storeroom with the bouncer in tow and questions why she is in there by herself. Realizing no one else can see the others, she mumbles an apology about being mistaken about what she saw.

When she returns home, her overprotective mother, Jocelyn, scolds her for staying out so late and worrying her. 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 about the unexpected move, leaves with Simon and later confides 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, having never noticed them. She ignores her mother's continual phone calls as they go to a poetry reading where Clary sees Jace, one of the teens she saw at Pandemonium. He privately tells Clary about demon-hunters, called Shadowhunters or Nephilim. The person killed at the club was a demon in human form. Jace claims Clary is not a mundane (mortal human) because beings like him are invisible to ordinary humans. Clary finally 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 trying in vain to call her mom back, Clary breaks her phone and grabs Jace's, which turns out to be a "sensor", hits him, and runs off. Clary then runs back to her house and it an absolute mess. She screams for her mom, but no one answers. Then, Clary encounters a creature that is bent on killing her, but she is able to kill it with Jace's sensor. Jace brings Clary back to the "institute", the place where the New York shadow hunters live. Clary meets the other shadow hunters, Isabelle and Alec, and the tutor, Hodge. Jace and Clary go back to Clary's house and meet her neighbor. Her neighbor has a portal, and Clary decides to go through to see where her mother would've gone.

Clary, followed by Jace, rushes through the portal, landing at Luke's bookstore and finding Simon hiding in the bushes. Simon was trying to find out what happened to Clary. He observed Luke packing several weapons inside his bag. The three hide inside the store. Luke returns with two men, Pangborn and Blackwell, whom Valentine sent to interrogate Luke about the Mortal Cup's whereabouts. Luke claims he does not know where Jocelyn, who is in a coma, hid the Mortal Cup and has no interest in her or the cup. He refuses to negotiate with them or interfere with Valentine's plans. Clary and Jace, accompanied by Simon, go back to the Institute and tell Hodge what they learned. Hodge tells them about the Circle, a group of Shadowhunters that Valentine formed to eliminate all Downworlders (vampire, werewolves, faeries, warlocks, and others). Jocelyn, Valentine's wife, was forced to join. It was believed she had died in a fire that destroyed Valentine's home. Jocelyn's real maiden name is Jocelyn Fairchild, which means Clary's dad was Valentine. Somewhere in here Clary and Jace go to the Silent City to speak to the Silent Brothers. They tell them that there is a block in her mind that prevents her from remembering the Shadow World. The warlock that put it there was Magnus Bane.

When Isabelle found an invitation in the demon's pocket (the one that Jace had killed at the Pandemonium Club) she took it. It was an invitation to a warlock's party hosted by Magnus Bane. Clary goes with her and the others. Clary meets Magnus Bane, who says his spell is too complex to remove but will fade naturally if it is not re-enforced every two years. Jocelyn had Magnus Bane place a protective spell on Clary's mind to prevent her seeing the Shadow World. During the party, Simon ignores Isabelle's warning and drinks a blue liquid that transforms him into a rat. Vampires take him thinking Simon was one of their own. Clary and Jace trail them to an abandoned hotel to rescue Simon. Jace, Clary, and rat-Simon escape when werewolves invade the hotel and battle the vampires. Jace seems upset when Simon and Clary embrace after he becomes human again.

That night, Jace takes Clary to the Institute's greenhouse on a midnight picnic to celebrate Clary's sixteenth birthday, and their romance blossoms with a romantic first kiss.

As the block continues fading and her memories begin emerging, Clary deduces that the Mortal Cup is hidden inside one of Madame Dorothea's tarot cards. Clary and the others go to Dorothea's apartment. Clary retrieves the Cup, but a demon appears from the Portal and possesses Madame Dorothea. Aided by Simon, they escape and return to the Institute where Hodge betrays them by handing 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.

Luke and Clary devise a plan to storm Valentine's secret stronghold with help from Luke's werewolf pack. While the werewolves attack Valentine's followers, Clary locates her mother, who is unconscious, and also finds Jace, who says Valentine told him he is his son. Having developed romantic feelings for each other, both Clary and Jace are aghast at realizing they are brother and sister. Clary says that despite Valentine being their father, he is evil. Valentine appears and entices Jace to return to Idris with him. Jace refuses, and Valentine escapes through a portal with the Cup, smashing the portal behind him.


  • Clarissa "Clary" Fray/Morgenstern/Fairchild - The 15 later 16-year-old protagonist. Raised by her mother, Jocelyn Fray (nee Fairchild), a former Shadowhunter, and the werewolf Lucian 'Luke' Garroway/Graymark, a family friend who served as a fatherly figure to Clary. All traces of the magical world was hidden from Clary in an attempt to protect her and have her live a normal, non-Shadowhunter life. She is a little over 5 feet tall, thin, has bright red hair, green eyes, freckles, and described as looking nearly identical to her mother. She is an artist, like her mother, often drawing her emotions in pictures - her version of a diary. Throughout the remainder of the series, Clary embarks on a quest to help her mother while adjusting to a life as a Shadowhunter. She and Jace eventually develop a mutual attraction; although the revelation that they are siblings dashes their romantic hopes.
  • Jonathan Christoper "Jace" Wayland/Lightwood/Morgenstern/Herondale - A Shadowhunter orphaned at a young age because of his father's murder. He has lived with the Lightwoods and Hodge Starkweather at the Institute in New York City since he became a Shadowhunter. He is said to be the best Shadowhunter of his age, his father having trained him before his death. Jace is described as having golden hair, eyes, and skin. He is attracted to Clary, but becomes horrified after discovering that they are siblings.
  • Simon Lewis - Clary's human best friend and essentially only friend for about 10 years. 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. He becomes a vampire in the second book.
  • Isabelle Sophia "Izzy" Lightwood - Beautiful and pale, Izzy is a Shadowhunter; the only daughter of Maryse and Robert Lightwood, and younger sister to Alec Lightwood. She is described as tall and incredibly beautiful, with black hair and eyes. She, like her brother (Alec Lightwood), at first dislikes Clary, but, by the end of the novel, becomes her friend.
  • Alexander Gideon "Alec" Lightwood - Isabelle's brother. Though he has been a Shadowhunter for many years, he has yet to kill a demon, and is severely wounded in a fight with a Greater Demon. He has black hair and blue eyes. Alec is a closeted homosexual, with the exception of Clary and Isabelle, and claims to be in love with Jace. He is jealous of Clary over Jace's affection for her.
  • 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. 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. Whom at the end comes out to be a follower of Valentine.
  • Jocelyn Fray/Fairchild/Morgenstern - Clary's mother and a former Shadowhunter seeking isolation from the magical world in 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.


A secret association that is responsible for 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 allows them to wield angelic blades and draw runes onto their skin.[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]

Film adaptation[edit]

The film adaptation was released August 21, 2013, directed by Harald Zwart and starring Lily Collins as Clary Fray. The film was shot in Toronto and New York.[7]

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.

  • In 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 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 main antagonist in Mortal Engines of the same name, who is also discovered to be the father of one of the main characters.[citation needed]


  1. ^
  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. ^

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