Title: Chain of Gold
Series: The Last Hours #1
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: March 3rd, 2020 (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Synopsis: Welcome to Edwardian London, a time of electric lights and long shadows, the celebration of artistic beauty and the wild pursuit of pleasure, with demons waiting in the dark. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world. James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, have grown up in an idyll with their loving friends and family, listening to stories of good defeating evil and love conquering all. But everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London…and so does a remorseless and inescapable plague.
James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love.
“We do not get to choose when in our lives we feel pain,” said Matthew. “It comes when it comes, and we try to remember, even though we cannot imagine a day when it will release its hold on us, that all pain fades. All misery passes. Humanity is drawn to light, not darkness.”
Cordelia Carstairs arrives in London, hoping to establish herself in Shadowhunter society and build relationships to prevent the family’s ruin as her father prepares to stand trial in Idris, accused of a terrible crime. Reconnecting with their old family friends, the Herondales – in particular her dear friend and soon to be parabatai Lucie, and James, whom she is secretly in love with, Cordelia is quickly drawn into the world of the London Enclave. But with the appearance of a terrifying new demon that can apparently attack in daylight with fatal results, Cordelia is about to have much greater worries than her father’s trial, as the streets of London, which have been quiet and trouble free since the end of the Clockwork War are once more beginning to stir.
As much as I adore the present day timeline, it was Will, Tessa and Jem’s story in The Infernal Devices that really got me interested in the world of Shadowhunters, and it was lovely to return to that time period again, to Edwardian London, which has a charm all its own. It was great to see these familiar faces again along with some old favourites like Magnus Bane. But the real focus in on our newest heroes, possibly the largest cast of central characters I’ve seen in a while. It does take some time to get them all figured out!
“That’s everyone’s dream, isn’t it, really?
Instead of many who give you little pieces of
themselves – one who gives you everything.”
Cordelia is just an overall amazing character. We’ve seen quite a few strong female characters in this series so far, but Cordelia is definitely something different. Strong willed and fiercely protective of her own, this generation’s wielder of the legendary Cortana would rather be a hero than get involved in her mother’s machinations to get her married to save the family name. And James – where to even begin with him? It’s all too obvious exactly whose son he is, but I was also quite pleasantly surprised by him – he’s got Will’s easy charm, but seemingly very little of his arrogance, and is overall so honourable and sweet, not to mention a natural leader. I did spend a good portion of the book rolling my eyes over his obsession with Grace, but otherwise, I really liked James. Matthew Fairchild, James’ parabatai, is just as intriguing a character, who hides his guilt behind a veneer of drinking and an easygoing nature – no spoilers, but it’s impossible not to feel bad for him as he has clearly struggled with this for a very long time.
“We don’t always love people who deserve it.”
Cordelia is hopelessly in love with James Herondale who loves Grace Blackthorn. And the way this book ends in this aspect is about to make this into what I suspect is Cassandra Clare’s most complicated love triangle yet – and I am enjoying every second of it. Funny thing about her books, they seem to include every cliche I would despise in any other book, but it manages to work so beautifully in these. I’m ready for the drama, not to mention the undoubted boatloads of upcoming angst. I’m also really curious as to just how far James and Cordelia’s story is going to parallel the tale of Layla and Majnun that is so often referenced in this book.
Lucie turned out to be way more interesting than I initially thought, and it looks like she’s about to have quite a key role in events going forward. Her strong friendship with Cordelia was also very well portrayed. As a side note, I really enjoyed her writings of The Beautiful Cordelia and they were a lot of fun to read. Jesse Blackthorn was quite the mystery who didn’t seem all that important at first, but surprisingly enough turned out to be one of the most crucial links in the story. As for Grace, however, regardless of whatever may be going on with the tyrannical Tatiana Blackthorn supposedly controlling her life, I can’t stand her. There’s something wrong there, that I can’t quite put my finger on. I was also excited to see Anna since I’ve been quite curious about her since Ghosts of the Shadow Market, and I really liked her character.
And can I just say I absolutely loved how close knit the Herondale, Lightwood and Fairchild children are, having grown up together – in particular, the Merry Thieves’ dynamic is perfect. This generation has grown up in a time of almost idyllic peace, something very unusual for Shadowhunters, and it’s wonderful to see how they rise to the occasion and support each other through the terrifying events that descend on the city unexpectedly.
Though it’s not absolutely essential, reading Ghosts of the Shadow Market before this will avoid a lot of confusion and make things clearer much earlier on since we’re introduced to a number of the central characters around whom this series revolves through those short stories. This book raises way more questions than it answers, especially when we consider the information we know in the present day timeline from The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices. Clearly none of the family trees online are to be trusted, because trying to figure them out is just making my head spin at the point.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and while it might not be as explosively good as say, Queen of Air and Darkness, it’s a solid start to a new series and a fantastic introduction to this new generation of Shadowhunters. Highly recommended!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: