March 4, 2020

Book Review: Chain of Gold

It hasn’t even been a full year since I did a deep dive into the Shadowhunters universe and binged all 15 previously published books (and read the 16th shortly before it was released in June). I have a hard time believing I haven’t always loved this world and this lore and these characters because of how intensely I’m committed these days, but the truth of the matter is that I happen to be relatively new to all things Shadowhunter. I’ve never actually posted a review for any Shadowhunters book before (though we did do an entire What We Read video dedicated to them), and I feel so incredibly lucky that Chain of Gold gets to be the first title that I feature on my blog.

At this point, please note that you will be mildly spoiled for The Infernal Devices series if you haven’t read it, but I promise not to spoil Chain of Gold. While it isn’t officially required reading, I’d highly recommend binge reading that trilogy, as well as the relevant short stories (The Midnight Heir from The Bane Chronicles, The Whitechapel Fiend & Nothing but Shadows from Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, Cast Long Shadows & Every Exquisite Thing from Ghosts of the Shadow Market) before picking up this book. Again, spoilers will be present for previously released titles, but not for Chain of Gold.

Chain of Gold is the start of the newest Shadowhunters series from Cassandra Clare, The Last Hours. The novel centers around the new generation of Shadowhunters (the children of The Infernal Devices characters!), who are currently living in a time of relative peace in Edwardian England. Things are shaken up by two overlapping events: the arrival of two families in London (Cordelia, Alastair and Sona Carstairs; Grace and Tatiana Blackthorn) and the rise of a new and powerful demonic threat with no hint as to who is pulling the strings or why.

There’s always something both magical and terrifying about picking up a new story that adds to the lore and world you already love. After reading so many of Cassandra Clare’s books though, I had the notion that I was going to love Chain of Gold even before I started it. It is the best feeling in the world to be able to tell you that my prediction was correct: I absolutely loved it!

Cassandra Clare has always been skilled at writing compelling plots. Chain of Gold really worked well for me as a reader because it combines the elements of a historical romance (navigating societal gatherings, hierarchies and relationships) with the typical paranormal Shadowhunter plot elements (fighting demons, navigating politics and uncovering devious plots to save loved ones and the world). It will feel familiar to Shadowhunters fans, as a lot of aspects feel like reflections of events that have taken place in her other series. But the novel still manages to stand out, at least to me, partially due to the setting, as well as the order of and actual events. Due to the established trust that exists between me as a reader and Clare as an author, I was content to sit back and go with the flow of this story, no matter where it led, no matter how emotional I got in ways both good and bad.

But really, of course, it was primarily the characters that set this book apart. Cassandra Clare is an author with a gift for writing multifaceted individuals that are part of strong ensemble casts. Chain of Gold is just another testament to her talent! I could talk about this group of characters forever. They really popped off the pages and felt like real people in all their best and worst qualities, and I just loved them so dang much. Cordelia Carstairs particularly is, by far, my favorite of the group, and my favorite heroine of the Shadowhunters universe. Her ferocity, humor, loyalty, and passion for the people she cares about really resonated with me, and I absolutely loved her desire to really take agency over her own life and circumstances (especially in this time period). But I have love to spare for the others too: Lucie Herondale, the Merry Thieves (James Herondale, Matthew Fairchild, Thomas and Christopher Lightwood), Anna Lightwood, and Jesse Blackthorn. Especially because Clare does an incredible job in the depiction of their relationships, whether they are actually family by blood or marriage, or they are part of the found family they created for themselves. I really am partial to stories that have a strong emphasis on bonds of love and loyalty, and feature plots heavily driven by those elements, so it’s no surprise that Chain of Gold really hit my sweet spot in this sense.

I loved Chain of Gold. It is a great series starter with the lethal (to me, as a reader) combination of rich lore that continues to get built upon, well-paced and well-plotted story and stellar character work. Writing my thoughts out for this review has reminded me precisely why I loved this novel (including a few more spoilery thoughts that I didn’t include here but you can hear me and Macky discuss on FandomBuzzz during a special Chain of Gold episode that's coming soon), and now I’m dying to reread it. This is a worthy addition to the Shadowhunters canon, and I can’t wait for Chain of Iron.

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) was released on March 3, 2020 by Margaret K. McElderry Books.
I received an ARC from the publisher, but all opinions stated here are my own.


  1. I agree with you about Clare having a gift writing multi-faceted characters. She has created a wonderful Shadowhunter world which is addicting and I love how each character is unique and memorable. Clare is one of the very few authors who can write many books within a series without tiring people out.


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