I am fully convinced that Cassandra Clare has ensorcelled her books, making them highly addictive and impossible to resist.
Upon reflection, you realize fairly quickly that it's a rather ridiculous premise. Teens with various special abilities and lots of angst have to save the world from certain annihilation involving rivers of blood, ancient demons and extremely poor parental role models. Lots of he likes, she likes and veritable love pentagrams with no boundaries drawn for age, gender, race, creed or species. A character roster of the singularly stunning and fashionable, all of whom seem to have an unbounded capacity to carry on witty banter in any circumstance. Faeries under Turtle Pond in Central Park (OK, now, that's plausible). Werewolves and vampires having turf wars in Manhattan. The very concept of a wise and powerful race of humans, descended from angels and charged with the protection of the planet, who let their teenaged children out to fight demons. Um. . . yeah.
But whatever spell is woven into these pages, it's simply irresistible!
A word of caution: you do HAVE to start at the beginning of the series. Major plot points build on earlier adventures without much in the way of re-treading old ground. In fact, you SHOULD also read the prequel series — The Infernal Devices — before you pick up City of Lost Souls, or some parts of the story will feel flat or inexplicable. But I'm guessing that reading the 6 prior books will not be much of a hardship. Nor will it take much time given that once you open the first, you won't be able to put the books down until you turn the final page.
Did I mention that these books are addictive?
Along with apparently millions of others, I absolutely love Cassandra Clare. Her books are vibrant and funny, rich in myth and emotionally complex, tightly woven, ambiguous and surprising, in a genre that often equates physical descriptions with character development and hormonally-challenged decision-making with logical plot progression. Her books are intelligent young adult paranormal romance. Yet intelligent in a way that never fails to entertain.
And I did say they're highly addictive, right?
Here's a sample. Simon is a typical nice Jewish boy. He plays in terrible garage bands, wears hipster-geek like a uniform, and is in love with his best friend. So what does Clare do with this character? She turns him into a vampire! Correct me if I'm wrong, but there were no Jewish geek vampires before. And making one? It's like creating an entirely new folklore. Or species. Which Clare has been having fun doing in all the necessary detail for the entire series. And Simon is just one character. All Clare's characters are similarly rich. Most are reformulations of legends that have atrophied to cliché. Well, no longer.
And that right there may be the spell that keeps you reading.