Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1), Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3), The Bane Chronicles (The Bane Chronicles), Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1)
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on March 2, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 688 •Format: E-Book •Source: Overdrive
Cordelia Carstairs seems to have everything she ever wanted. She’s engaged to marry James Herondale, the boy she has loved since childhood. She has a new life in London with her best friend Lucie Herondale and James’s charming companions, the Merry Thieves. She is about to be reunited with her beloved father. And she bears the sword Cortana, a legendary hero’s blade.
But the truth is far grimmer. James and Cordelia’s marriage is a lie, arranged to save Cordelia’s reputation. James is in love with the mysterious Grace Blackthorn whose brother, Jesse, died years ago in a terrible accident. Cortana burns Cordelia’s hand when she touches it, while her father has grown bitter and angry. And a serial murderer is targeting the Shadowhunters of London, killing under cover of darkness, then vanishing without a trace.
Together with the Merry Thieves, Cordelia, James, and Lucie must follow the trail of the knife-wielding killer through the city’s most dangerous streets. All the while, each is keeping a shocking secret: Lucie, that she plans to raise Jesse from the dead; Cordelia, that she has sworn a dangerous oath of loyalty to a mysterious power; and James, that he is being drawn further each night into the dark web of his grandfather, the arch-demon Belial. And that he himself may be the killer they seek.
Look, I love a good Shadowhunter book. But there’s just something about historical fiction Shadowhunter novels that are just *chef’s kiss.* I keep thinking there’s no way Cassie Clare can top her previous novels but I absolutely adored Chain of Iron and could honestly read about these Shadowhunter babies doing the most boring, everyday things and still be completely and utterly charmed. I honestly wish I could scrub this book from my brain so I could read it for the first time all over again (and I already know that it’s going to be a definite reread for me in the future!)
Forgive me in advance if this review is a bit rambly because it was just so enjoyable for me, especially during a time when I was definitely in a bit of a reading slump! (Also beware, this review will contain spoilers for Chain of Gold!)
I was jazzed at the end of Chain of Gold to find out we were going to get the fake marriage of convenience trope between James and Cordelia in this latest installment (The angst! The drama! The forbidden, unrequited love!) I wasn’t disappointed- Chain of Iron almost immediately begins with James’ and Cordelia’s “sham” of a wedding (except not because you can totally tell they both love each other but are in denial for one reason or another). I love a good Shadowhunter wedding and it’s always fun to see all of the families gathering at the Institute for one reason or another. I was then treated to several chapters of really just following the gang around as they live their lives- Cordelia and James moving in together into their new home (which is PERFECT), Christopher blowing things up in a lab, Matthew struggling with his inner demons, Lucie being in love with a ghost…you know the usual Edwardian Shadowhunter shenanigans. It was so nice to just spend some time seeing the day to day of these beloved characters before the inevitable “we must save the world from demons” plot picked up in this installment.
Even though I didn’t have a chance to reread Chain of Gold before diving into Chain of Iron, I felt like the plot picked up seamlessly and I was able to remember mostly everything. There was also the addition of Grace’s POV in this book (which I don’t think was present in the previous novel) and while I definitely don’t like Grace, it was really interesting to get so many flashbacks to understand how she grew up, why she is the way she is, and how absolutely unhinged Tatiana Blackthorn is (and really it bridges the gap between this series and The Infernal Devices since the scene where Tatiana’s husband is killed is such a big one in the first series, and everything Grace encounters in this series is almost a direct result of that one day). There were definitely a lot of times I wanted to grab the characters and shake some sense into them (especially with James and that damn bracelet or Lucie and her casual attitude toward necromancy in the name of l-o-v-e). I absolutely adored Cordelia (I think she is my fave Shadowhunter female protagonist we’ve seen so far) and I felt my heart ache for her so much during this novel, whether it was due to her unrequited love for James, her family trouble, or the mess she gets herself in trying to be worthy of Cortana.
I have to admit, while I absolutely loved this book overall, I was a bit let down by the ending just because the reveal felt a little stale for me (Spoiler: Lilith? Again?? Really???) I will say that the Shadowhunter books’ villains are quite hit or miss for me (sometimes they are interesting, sometimes they feel more like caricatures) but even though I was a little disappointed I still enjoyed the battle scenes.
Other Things I Adored
- Alastair and Thomas!
- The tackling of alcoholism and how it can affect such drastically different people yet still have devastating impacts.
- Anytime Magnus was around, because of course.
- Late nights at James’ and Cordelia’s house with the whole gang
- Anna Lightwood and her continuing to be the epitome cool.
- More exploration of Cordelia’s family and her relationship with her brother and parents.
Overall: Chain of Iron may be my favorite Shadowhunter novel to date. It left me utterly enchanted on almost every account, and though it ended on quite the cliffhanger, I can 100% forgive Cassie Clare because I just know the next book will be amazing!