Today I Read…City of Fallen Angels

Today I read City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare, the fourth book in The Mortal Instruments series. city-of-fallen-angels

Valentine and his son Jonathan are dead, the Clave is finally working together with the Downworlders, Clary is learning how to be a Shadowhunter, and Clary and Jace are free to be together. Everything should be perfect.

Only Jace has been having nightmares about hurting Clary and pushes her away, to protect her. Simon is being followed by agents of Camille, the ancient vampire queen who has been absent from the city and the clan for years. Simon’s new roommate Kyle is a werewolf, who is charged to protect Simon, except Kyle has secrets of his own. And someone is murdering babies in New York.

Looks like evil never really dies…

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Simon’s story really starts to take over from Clary and Jace in this book, which starts a new trilogy in the series. His powers as a Daylighter, a vampire who can walk in the sunlight, become more than a simple plot device in this book. Raphael and Camille both want to use him and his powers to their own ends, to support their power. Simon also has the Mark of Cain, which Clary put on him in the last book, but it is more fully explained what the consequences are. He has to deal with his mother thinking he is a monster and throwing him out of his house. He is dating two girls at once, Maia the werewolf and Isabelle the Shadowhunter, and neither of them knows about each other–until they find out. And his roommate Kyle is actually Jordan Kyle, the ex-boyfriend of Maia, who attacked her and turned her into a werewolf.

Clary and Jace’s epically angst-ridden relationship continues, even though Jace is pulling the macho stay-away-from-me-for-your-own-good-while-never-actually-explaining-what’s-wrong thing. The good thing is that Clary refuses to put up with his nonsense, even though she is going through training, investigating the babies’ murders, and preparing for her mother’s wedding to Luke at the same time.

The series is as complicated as a soap opera, with twists and turns and secrets and lies around every corner. However, it never gets so complicated that the reader loses interest.

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“So, did you have fun with Isabelle tonight?” Clary, her phone jammed against her ear, maneuvered herself carefully from one long beam to another. The beams were set twenty feet up in the rafters of the Institute’s attic, where the training room was located. Walking the beams was meant to teach you how to balance. Clary hated them. Her fear of heights made the whole business sickening, despite the flexible cord tied around her waist that was supposed to keep her from hitting the floor if she fell. “Have you told her about Maia yet?”

Simon made a faint, noncommittal noise that Clary knew meant “no.” She could hear music in the background; she could picture him lying on his bed, the stereo playing softly as he talked to her. He sounded tired, that sort of bone-deep tired she knew meant that his light tone didn’t reflect his mood. She’d asked him if he was all right several times at the beginning of the conversation, but he’d brushed away her concern. She snorted. “You’re playing with fire, Simon. I hope you know that.”

“I don’t know. Do you real y think it’s such a big deal?” Simon sounded plaintive. “I haven’t had a single conversation with Isabelle—or Maia—about dating exclusively.”

“Let me tell you something about girls.” Clary sat down on a beam, letting her legs dangle out into the air. The attic’s half-moon windows were open, and cool night air spilled in, chilling her sweaty skin. She had always thought the Shadowhunters trained in their tough, leatherlike gear, but as it turned out, that was for later training, which involved weapons. For the sort of training she was doing—exercises meant to increase her flexibility, speed, and sense of balance—she wore a light tank top and drawstring pants that reminded her of medical scrubs. “Even if you haven’t had the exclusivity conversation, they’re stil going to be mad if they find out you’re dating someone they know and you haven’t mentioned it. It’s a dating rule.”

“Well, how am I supposed to know that rule?”

“Everyone knows that rule.”

“I thought you were supposed to be on my side.”

“I am on your side!”

“So why aren’t you being more sympathetic?”

Clary switched the phone to her other ear and peered down into the shadows below her. Where was Jace? He’d gone to get another rope and said he’d be back in five minutes. Of course, if he caught her on the phone up here, he’d probably kill her. He was rarely in charge of her training—that was usually Maryse, Kadir, or various other members of the New York Conclave pinch-hitting until a replacement for the Institute’s previous tutor, Hodge, could be found—but when he was, he took it very seriously. “Because,” she said, “your problems are not real problems. You’re dating two beautiful girls at once. Think about it. That’s like . . . rock-star problems.”

“Having rock-star problems may be the closest I ever get to being an actual rock star.”

“No one told you to cal your band Salacious Mold, my friend.”

“We’re Millennium Lint now,” Simon protested.

“Look, just figure this out before the wedding. If they both think they’re going to it with you and they find out at the wedding that you’re dating them both, they’ll kill you.” She stood up. “And then my mom’s wedding will be ruined, and she’ll kill you. So you’ll be dead twice. Well, three times, technically . . .”

“I never told either of them I was going to the wedding with them!” Simon sounded panicked.

“Yes, but they’re going to expect you to. That’s why girls have boyfriends. So you have someone to take you to boring functions.” Clary moved out to the edge of the beam, looking down into the witchlight-illuminated shadows below. There was an old training circle chalked on the floor; it looked like a bull’s-eye. “Anyway, I have to jump off this beam now and possibly hurdle to my horrible death. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

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The moment Simon opened the door, he knew he’d miscalculated. He’d thought his mother would be asleep by now, but she wasn’t. She was awake, sitting in an armchair facing the front door, her phone on the table next to her, and she saw the blood on his jacket immediately. To his surprise she didn’t scream, but her hand flew to her mouth. “Simon.”

“It’s not my blood,” he said quickly. “I was over at Eric’s, and Matt had a nosebleed—”

“I don’t want to hear it.” That sharp tone was one she rarely used; it reminded him of the way she’d talked during those last months when his father had been sick, anxiety like a knife in her voice. “I don’t want to hear any more lies.”

Simon dropped his keys onto the table next to the door. “Mom—”

“All you do is tell me lies. I’m tired of it.”

“That’s not true,” he said, but he felt sick, knowing it was. “I just have a lot going on in my life right now.”

“I know you do.” His mother got to her feet; she had always been a skinny woman, and she looked bony now, her dark hair, the same color as his, streaked with more gray than he had remembered where it fell around her face.

“Come with me, young man. Now.”

Puzzled, Simon followed her into the small bright-yellow kitchen. His mother stopped and pointed toward the counter. “Care to explain those?”

Simon’s mouth went dry. Lined up along the counter like a row of toy soldiers were the bottles of blood that had been in the mini-fridge inside his closet. One was half-full, the others entirely full, the red liquid inside them shining like an accusation. She had also found the empty blood bags he had washed out and carefully stuffed inside a shopping bag before dumping them into his trash can. They were spread out over the counter too, like a grotesque decoration.

“I thought at first the bottles were wine,” Elaine Lewis said in a shaking voice. “Then I found the bags. So I opened one of the bottles. It’s blood. Isn’t it?”

Simon said nothing. His voice seemed to have fled.

“You’ve been acting so strangely lately,” his mother went on. “Out at all hours, you never eat, you barely sleep, you have friends I’ve never met, never heard of. You think I can’t tell when you’re lying to me? I can tell, Simon. I thought maybe you were on drugs.”

Simon found his voice. “So you searched my room?”

His mother flushed. “I had to! I thought—I thought if I found drugs there, I could help you, get you into a rehab program, but this?” She gestured wildly at the bottles. “I don’t even know what to think about this. What’s going on, Simon? Have you joined some kind of cult?”

Simon shook his head.

“Then, tell me,” his mother said, her lips trembling. “Because the only explanations I can think of are horrible and sick. Simon, please—”

“I’m a vampire,” Simon said. He had no idea how he had said it, or even why. But there it was. The words hung in the air between them like poisonous gas.

His mother’s knees seemed to give out, and she sank into a kitchen chair. “What did you say?” she breathed.

“I’m a vampire,” Simon said. “I’ve been one for about two months now. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before. I didn’t know how.”

Elaine Lewis’s face was chalk white. “Vampires don’t exist, Simon.”

“Yes,” he said. “They do. Look, I didn’t ask to be a vampire. I was attacked. I didn’t have a choice. I’d change it if I could.” He thought wildly back to the pamphlet Clary had given him so long ago, the one about coming out to your parents. It had seemed like a funny analogy then; now it didn’t.

“You think you’re a vampire,” Simon’s mother said numbly. “You think you drink blood.”

“I do drink blood,” Simon said. “I drink animal blood.”

“But you’re a vegetarian.” His mother looked to be on the verge of tears.

“I was. I’m not now. I can’t be. Blood is what I live on.” Simon’s throat felt tight. “I’ve never hurt a person. I’d never drink someone’s blood. I’m still the same person. I’m still me.”

His mother seemed to be fighting for control. “Your new friends—are they vampires too?”

Simon thought of Isabelle, Maia, Jace. He couldn’t explain Shadowhunters and werewolves, too. It was too much. “No. But—they know I am one.”

“Did—did they give you drugs? Make you take something? Something that would make you hallucinate?” She seemed to have barely heard his answer.

“No. Mom, this is real.”

“It’s not real,” she whispered. “You think it’s real. Oh, God. Simon. I’m so sorry. I should have noticed. We’ll get you help. We’ll find someone.A doctor. Whatever it costs—”

“I can’t go to a doctor, Mom.”

“Yes, you can. You need to be somewhere. A hospital, maybe—”

He held out his wrist to her. “Feel my pulse,” he said.

She looked at him, bewildered. “What?”

“My pulse,” he said. “Take it. If I have one, okay. I’ll go to the hospital with you. If not, you have to believe me.”

She wiped the tears from her eyes and slowly reached to take his wrist. After so long taking care of Simon’s father when he’d been sick, she knew how to take a pulse as well as any nurse. She pressed her index fingertip to the inside of his wrist, and waited.

He watched as her face changed, from misery and upset to confusion, and then to terror. She stood up, dropping his hand, backing away from him. Her eyes were huge and dark in her white face. “What are you?”

Simon felt sick. “I told you. I’m a vampire.”

“You’re not my son. You’re not Simon.” She was shuddering. “What kind of living thing doesn’t have a pulse? What kind of monster are you? What have you done with my child?”

“I am Simon—” He took a step toward his mother.

She screamed. He had never heard her scream like that, and he never wanted to again. It was a horrible noise.

“Get away from me.” Her voice broke. “Don’t come any closer.” She began to whisper.

“Barukh ata Adonai sho’me’a t’fila . . .”

She was praying, Simon realized with a jolt. She was so terrified of him that she was praying that he would go away, be banished. And what was worse was that he could feel it. The name of God tightened his stomach and made his throat ache. She was right to pray, he thought, sick to his soul. He was cursed. He didn’t belong in the world. What kind of living thing doesn’t have a pulse?

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