When I was handed this book at work, my eyes turned into the size of dinner plates. I screamed, completely ignoring the customer who was about to ask me a question. Even as I held the book in my hands, I couldn’t believe it was real. It was here. And it was three weeks early!
I have been waiting for Chain of Gold since Cassandra Clare published the finale to The Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Princess, in 2013. For seven years I have waited for these characters – the offspring of Will and Tessa, Cecily and Gabriel, Gideon and Sophie, Charlotte and Henry; my favourite Shadowhunters.
AND IT WAS SO DAMN WORTH IT.
Set in Edwardian London, the Shadowhunters have lived in peace for many years. James and Lucie Herondale have been raised in comfort and love, surrounded by their parents, family, and friends. But when Tatiana Blackthorn arrives in London with her ward, Grace Blackthorn, at the same time that Cordelia Carstairs arrives with her family… The life they once knew is now surrounded by demons and a deadly plague. James, his parabatai Matthew, Lucie, and Cordelia are thrown into a dark and dangerous adventure where secrets, powers, the heartaches of love and the true price of being a hero are revealed.
1) The Characters
The love I have for every single character in this book is so immense, I don’t know how to put it into words! The main cast of characters (James, Lucie, Matthew, Cordelia, and I would also include Thomas and Christopher) aren’t the only stars of the book. Each and every side character is given so much detail and story, it’s hard to even call them side characters! Cassandra Clare has always been master of dealing with a big cast of characters, giving each of them detailed (and slow-burning) character arcs, and intricately involving every character in the plot in some way or another, but not to the detraction of the overall pace or story. Chain of Gold is, in my opinion, her most masterful book to date because of this very reason.
(James Herondale by Charlie Bowater)
James Herondale captured my heart when he first appeared in The Bane Chronicles’ short story The Midnight Heir, so it was so good seeing the nuances of his personality and relationships in Chain of Gold. He truly is a hero – and a Herondale – and I love that we got to see equal parts angst, equal parts happiness, and equal parts idiot (some of his decisions made me want to grab him by the shoulders and scream at him!)
(Lucie Herondale by Charlie Bowater)
Lucie Herondale is the character I related to the most (probably because she’s a lot like her mother, Tessa). She’s whip-smart, a little pushy, and compares her life to stories; always looking for things she can use to put in her novels (she is me!). Lucie has a very independent personality. She’s not too interested in boys right now – she’s more preoccupied with her family and friends, her soon-to-be parabatai Cordelia, and the mystery she gets swept up into (I won’t spoil, but it’s very cool!) – and I love that she stands so well on her own while also feeling such loyalty to the people she loves. I just adore her omg.
(Cordelia Carstairs by Charlie Bowater)
Cordelia Carstairs is a BADASS, and the best thing about her is that she kicks ass while also being so in touch with her femininity. She’s a very balanced character, equal parts emotional and practical, and I love how she approaches every situation with such openness. At no point does she feel like a stereotype, even though you might expect it from her character description, and I think it’s because she is so nuanced and allowed to be flawed. I feel like she knows she is, and even when things go wrong, she has such inner strength, it’s hard to love her.
(Matthew Fairchild by Charlie Bowater)
Matthew Fairchild is my favourite character and I will fight anyone who speaks badly of him. He’s scandalous and hilarious and self-destructive – everything I love in a character lol – and his love for James is so pure and unconditional (reminiscent of Will and Jem), it makes me want to scream. Matthew’s character arc, I can already tell, is going to be the angstiest of them all, and I cannot wait. Though he doesn’t have a POV, he improved every scene he was in just by being there, and I think he is going to be (and already is) a fan favourite.
(Thomas Lightwood by Charlie Bowater)
Christopher Lightwood and Thomas Lightwood (cousins, not brothers) deserve all the happiness in the world. I love Christopher – he’s scientific and logical and hilarious – and his friendship with Thomas – a burlier, honest boy – is so pure and supportive, I cannot help but love both of them. The way they interact with the larger cast of characters is so meaningful and interesting, and they are both heroes in their own right. They will have such awesome character arcs in the books to come… Just you wait!
(Left to Right: Alastair Carstairs, Grace Blackthorn, Jesse Blackthorn, Anna Lightwood. By Charlie Bowater)
In terms of the side characters, as I said before, each of them is so unique and detailed, it’s hard not to love them all – even the more antagonistic ones. Grace Blackthorn is more than just the helpless ward who grew up in a loveless household; you do not want to underestimate her. Charles Fairchild is intentionally one of the most annoying characters in the book, but he is dealing with things behind the scenes that will shock you. Alastair Carstairs, Cordelia’s brother, is my favourite side character (and possibly even up there alongside Matthew as my favourite character overall) because he is so complex and well-written; you will not see his character arc coming! Anna Lightwood is also a character that I would die for; her confidence and hard shell hide a heartbroken inner world and I am so here for it! (Have I mentioned that I love angsty characters?) Jesse Blackthorn appears in the book and so too does Tatiana Blackthorn, the characters from The Infernal Devices, and a famous warlock or two. As always, Cassandra Clare seamlessly weaves the old characters we know and love in with the knew, and it creates such an enjoyable and almost interactive experience. You feel like you are part of the Shadowhunter world; a part of their inner community.
2) The Mystery
Arguably my favourite part of Chain of Gold is that, even though we’ve known these characters for seven years, I still had no idea what was going to happen in terms of the plot and their character arcs. I found myself surprised by pretty much everything! Most of the characters had an element of their personality that we didn’t know before. The plot was slow-building, to the point where bad guys and plot twists slipped by and caught me off guard. I think it’s genius of Cassandra Clare to have built up these characters over time and to even have a somewhat suspicious family tree that came with Clockwork Princess all those years ago. It only adds to the drama and made me question everything I already know. I love it!
3) The Love
Ever since announcing on Tumblr that I’d been given an ARC of the book, I’ve been bombarded with questions about the ‘ships’ and who ends up with who. And while the romantic love is soooo good in Chain of Gold – Cassandra Clare writes romance and sexual tension so damn well (*cough cough* Will Herondale and Tessa Gray) – to avoid spoilers, I’m going to talk about the other kinds of love that had just as big of a presence: familial love and platonic love. The new generation of London Shadowhunters have grown up in such comfort and love – their parents, after all, appear in the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful Shadowhunter series to exist (fight me on this) – and the importance they place on family and friendship is so strong while remaining realistic. Friends disagree, children keep secrets from parents, siblings argue, but they at the end of the day, the characters will do anything to protect their loved ones and to extend that love towards those who may not have it. As these values are important to me personally, it was something I really appreciated about Chain of Gold and I think fans will enjoy it too.
4) The Time and Place
I love historical fiction. I think part of why I loved The Infernal Devices so much was because it’s set in the late 1800s. Even though the beliefs were backward regarding women, marriage, etc. there’s something so scandalous and romantic about the intimacy of dancing in a ballroom, or being alone with a boy when it’s not allowed, or the fact that everyone is always so impeccably dressed. And (thank you Cassie) it’s not at the expense of diversity! I would say that Chain of Gold is a mix of The Infernal Devices and The Dark Artifices. Characters come in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and sexualities, and the fact that it’s set in the early 1900s doesn’t stop them from being who they are! It’s refreshing and makes the story feel all the more realistic.
1) Literally Nothing.
Look, there is no such thing as a perfect book. Every person is going to interpret it differently and find things they like and don’t like. I could say that the set up of Chain of Gold was a little too long, or that I expected James to be a little angstier, or that I would’ve loved to see Will and Tessa and the other parents a bit more. But I genuinely think that these small, nit-picky things are so irrelevant and of such little consequence, I’m just going to straight-up say that every word of this book brought so much joy to my life, it overrides everything else. I love this book, and I know I will love the next two books in the series, no matter where they take me!
I give Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare:
I seriously cannot wait for the rest of the world to read it! The fan theories, fan art, and all the reactions are going to be so much fun! It’s not long now!!!
Chain of Gold comes out on March 3rd, 2020.