Review of Cassandra Clare’s CHAIN OF THORNS

Chain of Thorns by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

No one does historical fantasy quite like Ms. Clare. The seamless blending of Edwardian England and Shadowhunter mythos creates a believable world just one step out of the ordinary. The glamorous fabrics and dramatic societal rituals are hypnotic, settling you in a time out of place when manners and reputation were everything. But because of the roles of the characters, there’s no need to get bogged down in the repression of women or the horror of racism. It makes the era approachable. Probably why it’s so appealing to dive into over and over with this trilogy. (And the covers, of course, are beyond gorgeous)

But I question whether this volume needed the bulk it carried. The story-or rather segues from it-dragged and took away from the promised action and turmoil that’s been building in the previous two books. It turned into a manifesto on alcoholism and, to a lesser extent, queer representation. And while I’m not going to deny the importance of either cause, they fell with a heavy hand that turned into a lecture. The plot stalled each time while we waited for characters to get ahold of themselves and settle issues that, honestly, the reader had already accepted pages ago. All so Ms. Clare could rush the action in the last quarter of the book. It came off as unbalanced and awkward.

This is a fantasy novel. Not an essay. It isn’t designed to save the world. There are better ways to present your personal feelings on such topics. Subtler ways. I spent entire chapters rolling my eyes and muttering, “Get on with it.” Ms. Clare didn’t do herself any favors by attempting to get on a pedestal with her readers. They know her position. Her time would have been better spent telling a complete and whole tale. Save her words for where they might actually do some good.

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