Friday, March 20, 2020

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare - Book Review (There will be spoilers!)

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
Publication date: March 3, 2020
My rating: 3 stars

No one ever mentioned things like accidentally kneeling on a dead bird while waiting for a demon to turn up.

Okay then. 

*Looking around me helplessly* 

Where should I start? 

I think I started this review a hundred different ways as I was reading Chain of Gold.
This is hard for me people. I'm a sworn Cassie Clare fan here, I live and breathe the shadowhunters world. If you were to ask me who two of my favorite authors are, I would promptly say Cassandra Clare and Rick Riordan. 

And yet. Just last year, for the very first time, I rated 3 stars to a Rick Riordan book. And now this. 

So you see why rating a shadowhunters book any lower than 4 stars is so SO hard for me. SO HARD. 


Will sat down beside his wife and pulled her into his lap. “I am going to kiss your mother now,” he announced. “Flee if you will, children. If not, we could play Ludo when the romance is over.”

Cassandra Clare has always told her stories from a third person with switching POVs, but for some reason it all felt very very loose here. 

I could not get a grasp on any of the characters, they all slipped away from me and never leaped out of the pages of the book. At times, POVs would switch in the same chapter, leaving the other one on a "cliffhanger" which ruined some of the progression of the story for me, especially when I was just starting to get into the POV it was told from. There also seemed to be a lot of telling and not showing, like how James was supposedly the leader that held them all together, and I know logically they've been best of friends since they were all children but I wasn't there with them during all those times and I felt like just explaining to us how best of friends they were wasn't enough. 

Or like how Lucie and Cordelia were supposedly best friends but they didn't actually spend any time alone together in the story...? And even when they were together I just could not feel the talked about the sisterly bond between them, it was like they were new friends but not the so called future parabatai type of friends everyone was talking about.
Wasn’t that what power was, the ability to risk angering people? What was the point of being a female Consul if you still had to fret about keeping people happy?

The characters' thoughts and feelings did not come across to me. At all. 

I honestly felt like there was an invisible wall between me and the characters, almost as if Grace herself put a bracelet on us the readers and we were all under The Mask so we could not think or see clearly. 

It all just felt kind of... mechanical? Like this happened, and then this happened, and that happened, and all the while I was thinking "But what are the characters feeling or thinking about this or that happening?". There were times when someone said something very shocking to another character, and we were told the character was shaken or the character sits down heavily, but I never FELT any of it from them. 

I know this is Cassandra Clare's writing style, but it all felt to way more extreme than how I remembered it. Heck, maybe I'm remembering wrong, but I don't remember being bothered by stuff like that in the last two Cassie books I've read. 

To me, the most important part is connecting with the characters, and no one clicked with me in Chain of Gold. Especially the main characters, so this was just tragic.
There were quite a few side characters I was interested in, but they didn't really have time to shine so It never went from "Aw, you seem interesting" to "I love you!", but hey I take what I can get. These side characters were: Alistair, Christopher, Matthew, Anna & Ariadne (they both have a scene at the very end that suddenly jump started my interest in these two, both individually and together), and of course Jess (who can resist a broody handsome Blackthorn ghost?) 

Lucie frowned. “You are a ghost, but not like any other ghost. Even my father and brother can’t see you. It’s so odd. Are you buried?”  “It’s very forward to ask a gentleman if he’s buried,” said Jesse.

It's important to mention it took me like 30% of the book to understand who is related to who, who is whose friend/sister/brother/cousin/fiance/enemy... I was just SO confused for a long time, and I do not usually get very confused, so that says a lot. 
I mean, I literally read every single shadowhunter book out there - including the short story collections - and I was still confused.
The only Shadowhunter thing I haven't read is the flash fiction Cassie posted each month, because I forgot to keep track of that. 

I also felt like I was cheated out of who I thought James was from what we saw of him in the short stories - like in the Magnus Bane short stories and Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy - compared to how he was in Chain of Gold.
The James I thought I knew and loved was not the James I saw in front of me, and it had nothing to do with Grace.
I thought James was this tortured shy book nerd, struggling with his dark powers.
Instead, we have an outgoing and charismatic James who is more tortured by Grace than he is by his dark powers (okay, he wasn't Matthew level of outgoing, but he definitely wasn't the boy I thought I knew from the short stories). I remember absolutely adoring him in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, so I was really sad not feeling the same way about him in Chain of Gold. 

I know people change over the years, but I didn't expect him to be completely different from what I remembered. 

“Last time I saw you, you were facedown in the Serpentine,” Magnus said cheerfully. “Now you’re fiddling with a Pyxis. I see you have decided to follow in the long Herondale tradition of poor decision-making.” “So have I!” said Lucie, determined not to be left out.

The highlights of the book, for me, was the sister-brother relationship between Cordelia and Alistair. I just loved to see their development, and I want to see even more of it in next books. And of course MAGNUS BANE. Magnus Bane always makes everything better! Seriously, I was so happy when he finally made an appearance in the book. Though I was disappointed it was pretty late into the book and he only showed up like, briefly, and for 3 times or so. 

Still! Magus Bane! Not to mention, it was heavily hinted he would be a bigger part of the next book in the trilogy, so I'm so happy about that! 

Out of the main POVs, I would say Lucie's was probably my favorite, as I really enjoyed seeing the glimpses we saw of her abilities, not to mention I was really intrigued with Jess, though again disappointed he wasn't in the book enough. Jess is definitely playing a big part of things though, and I'm sure we'll see more of him in the future. There is also the whole "Will he and Lucie get romantically involved?" question. I honestly saw no signs of romance between them - as much as I was hoping to! - though they do seem to trust each other and Lucie is determined to help him so that's sweet and might be the base of their relationship for the future. 

I do think it would make sense of him and her to be together eventually. I mean the book literally started with her meeting Jess as a 10 year old, so I have high hopes for that! 

Then again we also have Matthew, because of course we need to have a tortured love mess thing going on 😂😭 Matthew seems to have feelings for Cordelia, which I find super weird because didn't he supposedly have feelings for Lucie? He and Lucie even shared 2 "intimate" scenes that seemed to hint on this. Though Lucie strictly told James she has no feelings for Matthew and the story seems to be rooting for her and Jess. But then again, it's quite obvious Cordelia and James are meant to be together, but Grace's magic is... Woah woah, I gotta stop here, thinking about the love triangles who are all intertwined with each other is SO MESSY 😂 

I remember feeling that way after finishing Lady Midnight, so I'm going to take a deep breath and know that at least some of it is going to be solved in Chain of Iron. 

He was gazing at a familiar crack in the ceiling that was shaped a bit like a duck. His father would be horrified.

Another point I might add is that maybe I'm just not cut out for historical fiction. Its been forever since I read The Infernal Devices so I don't remember how I felt there, but historical fiction tends to annoy me a lot, especially when it comes to descriptive writing (and Cassandra Clare's style is already descriptive without adding historical fiction into the mix) and the treatment of girls at the time. I know, it's historically accurate, but it makes my blood boil! 

Therefore it honestly seemed VERY jarring to me that these girls were allowed to hunt demons but for some reason it was OH SO scandalous if their dress was torn/dirty or if they were left alone in a room with a boy. Not to mention the whole "being ruined" part, like... yes it's historically accurate, but they're shadowhunters, they hunt demons, this girl holds one of the most powerful swords in the world, why are you all whispering about her being alone with a boy...?! Or the "oh no, her dress looks like a mess, but who cares if she almost died by a demon!" 

I also absolutely HATE any form of mind control or love potions forcing you to feel or not feel things towards another. And that's exactly what's happening in Chain of Gold, and so I hated reading from James's POV also because of that situation. 

“I can promise it. I do promise it. I am a Herondale, and we keep our promises.”

Who I thought James was Vs. who he seemed to be in Chain of Gold + the detachment the narration made me feel from the characters + tell and not show regarding character development or character motivation/feelings/thoughts + historical fiction descriptive writing and weird priorities + my pet peeve regarding mind control were the reasons Chain of Gold didn't click with me. 

I just read a 600 pages book and I still can't tell you anything deep about these characters. I can tell you Lucie is a writer, Cordelia is basically her sword, and James is a confused mess for reasons not of his doing, but those are just the facts and not something I've learned through deep and meaningful character development. 

I'll be honest, if this wasn't a Shadowhunter book... if it weren't for all of my love and nostalgia for this world and characters... this may have had a lower rating. 

*crying into the abyss*

Chain of Iron, you must not fail me! 😭 

“It is a pity, actually, that no one will ever know how James, Cordelia, and Matthew are heroes for foiling a demonic plan to attack Idris,” said Lucie. “We will always know,” said Thomas, and raised his glass. “To being secret heroes.” “To standing by each other no matter what,” said Matthew, raising his own, and as they all cheered and toasted.