Just a heads-up before I begin... I don't want to have to hide the entire review because of possible spoilers for the previous five books so if you're reading this review I am assuming you've already read up to CoHF. If not, consider this fair warning: there *will* be spoilers for the previous books here but no spoilers for CoHF.
CoHF picks up not long after City of Lost Souls ended and Jace is still dealing with the Heavenly Fire that courses through him. The Silent Brothers cannot remove it, Jordan is trying to help him control it, and meanwhile Clary is the only one that can touch him. Meanwhile, Sebastian is at large and no one knows what his next move will be.
After a shocking attack, the Shadowhunters retreat to Idris to regroup and determine a strategy to fight against Sebastian and his Endarkened army. But Sebastian is always several steps ahead and even Idris is no longer a safe haven. The attacks continue, betrayal is everywhere, surprising alliances form, and the story carries us from New York to Alicante to the Seelie Court and all the way to the demon realms. And all are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to end Sebastian's reign.
"Jace," Clary said, and put her hand on his arm.
He didn't move away from her, but he didn't react, either.
She dropped her voice. "You can't save everyone," she said.
"Maybe not," he said as the light in his hand dimmed.
"But it would be nice to save someone for a change."
The changes in the third person POV worked so well in CoHF. It was important to get the full story and this allowed us to see perspectives of not only Clary and Jace but also Simon and Maia and others (even the Seelie Queen herself). It enabled us to see what was happening outside of Idris while the Nephilim were closing ranks there.
It was a surprisingly quiet sadness, for Jace, and when
he spoke at last, his voice was surprisingly quiet too.
"I just wish," he said, not looking at her but at the floor,
"that I could say the right thing, do the right thing, to make
this easier for you. Whatever you want from me, I want to do it.
I want to be there for you in whatever the right way is for you, Clary."
When it came to the relationships, CoHF did not disappoint. No matter your TMI OTP - Clace, Malec, Sizzy - there was something for everyone. So many intense moments for each couple - some sweet, some hot, some utterly heartbreaking. Admission time: I've never been a huge fan of Simon and Isabelle, or Simon in general (ducks to hide from all Sizzy shippers) but Simon truly came into his own here and I had such respect for him. And there were moments with he and Izzy that definitely tugged at my heart. Kudos to Cassie Clare for that. It took me six books, but I finally warmed to Simon. There, I've said it.
The humor is still in abundance. So many laugh out loud lines. Particularly between the guys - Jace & Simon, Alec & Jace, Simon & Alec. But the great lines aren't limited to the guys...
"Is our strategy when we actually see him still 'trust me,' by the way?"
"It's still 'trust me','' Jace said.
"Oh good," Isabelle said. "For a second there I was worried there
was going to be an actual plan with, like, steps we could follow.
You know, something reassuring."
And one of my favorites:
"We will stand bravely with you!" Malcolm announced.
Catarina looked darkly at him and he quailed. "Well, we
will stand bravely near you. Or at least within earshot."
Throughout CoHF I had so many theories of what would happen, so many ideas of how things would develop. Some were right; some were completely off-base. But one constant was that I had no idea how Sebastian would be defeated. He seemed so clever, so powerful, and so willing to do the unthinkable... it made him seem undefeatable. There were so many intense scenes and so many times where I was struck by his cruelty and utter lack of compassion. Favorite characters were put in terrible situations and forced to make impossible choices.
"I just wanted to say that you don't always have to be all right.
I asked you to be my parabatai because I needed you, but you're allowed to need me, too. This" - he indicated his own parabatai
rune - "means you are the better, other half of me, and I care
about you more than I care about myself. Remember that. I'm
sorry I didn't realize how much you were hurting. I didn't see it
then, but I see it now."
I have just two minor quibbles and one is a major spoiler so it can be read here.
There was much talk in advance of the CoHF release about the number of deaths in the book. It seemed even Cassie Clare hinted at major character deaths. But besides Sebastian (which was a pretty obvious outcome) the only two deaths of real consequence were Jordan and Raphael. And I would hardly call them major players. I had mentally prepared myself for major losses but in the end it was two secondary characters. Naturally I'm happy that no major characters were killed off, but at the same time it feels kind of like a cop-out. With all that happened, not one major character dies and everyone gets their HEA. Good news, yes, but it also felt unrealisticMy only other issue is all the set-up that was included for the upcoming Dark Artifices spin-off series. The story concerning Emma and the Blackthorn's wasn't truly necessary for the plot and I felt its only purpose was to serve as a launching pad for the next series.
CoHF does an amazing job of bringing everything together at the end. Cassie Clare provided a conclusion that was so satisfying and the last chapter was simply a joy to read. Seeing the threads that connected The Infernal Devices trilogy to The Mortal Instruments series was just sublime.