Review | Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Cordelia Carstairs is a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained since childhood to battle demons. When her father is accused of a terrible crime, she and her brother travel to London in hopes of preventing the family’s ruin. Cordelia’s mother wants to marry her off, but Cordelia is determined to be a hero rather than a bride. Soon Cordelia encounters childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and is drawn into their world of glittering ballrooms, secret assignations, and supernatural salons, where vampires and warlocks mingle with mermaids and magicians. All the while, she must hide her secret love for James, who is sworn to marry someone else.

But Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London. These monsters are nothing like those Shadowhunters have fought before—these demons walk in daylight, strike down the unwary with incurable poison, and seem impossible to kill. London is immediately quarantined. Trapped in the city, Cordelia and her friends discover that their own connection to a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.

“I wonder sometimes if it is easier to be brave when one is young, before one knows truly how much there is to lose.”

The Infernal Devices has always been my favourite Shadowhunter series, and every time I revisited it, I found I wanted more: more answers about Tessa’s parentage; more quips from Will; more of Jem as a Silent Brother. Chain of Gold gives us all that and more, picking up ~20 years after the events in Clockwork PrincessChain of Gold builds upon pivotal plot points from TID and makes nods to several of its smaller moments, so if it’s been years since you’ve read TID, I highly recommend rereading it before starting this new series.

This might just be Cassandra Clare’s most ambitious book yet in terms of the sheer size of the cast. At the forefront, we have Lucie and James Herondale (Will and Tessa’s children); Cordelia Carstairs (Elias Carstair’s daughter and Jem’s cousin); Matthew Fairchild (Charlotte and Henry’s child); Anna and Christopher Lightwood (Cecily and Gabriel’s children); and Thomas Lightwood (Sophie and Gideon’s child). There wasn’t a lot of time spent establishing their relationships to one another and their friendship dynamics, so it took a bit for all of these characters to grow on me. I especially loved Anna and her suits, Lucie’s tales of “The Beautiful Cordelia,” and poor Matthew, who is highly entertaining but struggling with demons of his own.

The plot of Chain of Gold wasn’t overly dramatic; it served to set up the rest of the series which I’m sure will have much higher stakes. I almost always complain about the love triangles in Cassandra Clare’s books and how they overshadow the main plot, but I was pleasantly surprised by how the main love triangle (because, yes, there is a lot of relationship drama here!) has a direct tie to the villain.

Overall, Chain of Gold was both a love letter to The Infernal Devices and a compelling start to a new series. I can’t wait to see what happens in Chain of Iron!

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