City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
This second book of the Mortal Instruments series improves on the first; my theory about Clare improving as a writer with each novel seemed validated. The sentences and descriptions were less clichéd. Jace became more complicated and less annoying, and Clary also seemed to mature as she encountered more of the Shadowhunter world, even discovering a talent of her own. I liked visiting Clare’s version of the faerie court, but I didn’t like it when couple of the adult authority figures, Maryse Lightwood and the Inquisitor, had ridiculously overblown temper tantrums. I enjoyed Simon’s genre-savvy asides, and it was interesting to get to know the villain, Valentine, a little better. He’s a zealot and a bigot, and a poor excuse for a father. His demon hordes are what make him so formidable; the fear demon Agramon revealed the characters even as he intimidated them. I liked the way the ending dealt with the love triangle. Of course there are four more books in the recently concluded series, so there are many open ends. I’m particularly interested in the Maia/Simon relationship, and hoping it ends up more than just an example of pairing the spare.