Mostly I thought City of Ashes was a vast improvement on City of Bones. It had a few nifty surprises. The plot continues to echo elements from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Harry Potter series, and Star Wars, among other sources, but generally doesn’t draw enough from any one of those wells to feel overly derivative. City of Ashes also more explicitly incorporates mythic traditions (mostly from the British isles) and some nods to primary sources. A few times I stumbled over an awkward phrase, and at least once I thought the banter between Clary and her pals was a little too specifically modeled on the dialogue of Buffy Summers and crew. But primarily my experience of this book was that I would look up and discover that an hour and/or so another fifty pages had blown in what seemed like an eye blink.
An extended battle scene near the end, however, forcibly recalled my issues with the first novel — the descriptions of the participants seemed a little lazy and formulaic, and the confusing, somewhat contradictory, descriptions of the environs interfered with my suspension of disbelief. But if the finale was a little disappointing, it certainly wasn’t enough so to blunt my interest in the concluding volume.
needs more demons? mmmmmmaybe.