Tess is still agonising over her choice to marry Jem – while deeply in love with him, she cannot forget Will, nor can Will who is torn between his love for Tessa and his great loyalty for his friend, brother and companion.
And Mortmain isn’t going to leave them alone to deal with their angst – his plan to horde all of London’s supply of yin fen the only drug that can keep Jem alive has finally hit them, especially since Jem has been taking extra, shortening his life so he can be more fully around and active for Tessa. His life span is measured in weeks, no longer in years.
And then there’s Mortmain’s attempts to claim Tessa and his final revelation of his grand master plan against the Shadow Hunters once and for all. A plan that is only harder to thwart with the head of the Clave gunning for Charlotte, stooping to any means he can to find sufficient excuse to remove her as head of the London Institute and deny her any help in facing this threat.
The main problem I have with this book is the same problem I have with the whole series – it’s slow. The actual plot of this book doesn’t kick in until we’re 30% in; before that we’re mired in love triangle angst that basically runs round and round in circles as Will, Jem and Tessa circle each other with their angst and love and worry. We have Jem’s shortage of yin fen but no-one really does anything about it accept continue to circle round and round and worry and angst and worry some more.
The story does pick up at 30% but it’s still less of a plot and more of a desperate flail, which always frustrates me, especially since it’s a theme in this series and leaves me having problem rooting for characters that, ultimately, flail their way to a solution. They knew yin fen was being bought up, but only now considered it an issue. Will goes riding off to Wales without any real plan, Charlotte and co follow with no real plan, Tessa hangs around being helpless and desperate with no real plan (which is past annoying now –she’s supposed to be training how to fight so can she actually do that occasionally – and not insist on attending emergencies in her wedding dress!), everyone kind of flails around, hoping their mere presence will somehow fix everything. I know, to a degree we’re looking at people in situations where they have few options, but this turn up and hope approach to a story doesn’t engage me – especially when the situation is resolved almost by Tessa pulling out a new super-power.
There are a number of side plots or tangential plots in this book – and one I really like; Charlotte and the Consul. It’s nicely done, it’s directly connected to the main plot line it adds considerable characterisation, world building and wider explanation of both Shadowhunter society as well as what is actually happening in the plot and support from the wider Shadowhunter forces as well as having an excellent portrayal of both sexism and having it challenged.
There’s the good one. Then we have the Lightwoods because… because… I have no damn clue. Why are these characters even here? Why am I supposed to care? Why did we have a completely unnecessary diversion to kill their wormy father when it added nothing to the book? Why did I have to spend so much time in the head of Gabriel Lightwood a character I managed to care even less about than I do will and Tessa – and I was on the side of the WORM when it had a chance to eat Will and Tessa. Why is this character even here? And Gideon? Oh Gideon, how little I care about your mountains of scones and flailing attempt to court Sophie. Then there’s Cicely. Dear gods, I can’t believe there’s a single person in the entire world who cares about Cicely. Why is she there?! She’s even less pointful than the unnecessarily returning Jessamine who shows up because we simply do not have enough pointlessness in this book! And not only there, but why am I wasting time not only reading about Cecily, but being stuck in her head so we can see fragments of a pointless relationship between 2 pointless side characters? To give us a pointless PSA about choice and autonomy vs having a future chosen for you? And what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? A nice message but pretty irrelevant to the central themes of the book and certainly not needing a passel of pointless characters bloating the cast for the purpose.