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Here's How to Read The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare in Order

Join the Shadowhunters on an adventure of a lifetime!

Collage of the First Four Books of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series

I first fell in love with Cassandra Clare’s works when I was 13 or 14 years old—a shy school kid who’d obsessively devour fantasy novels, chat with bookworms online, and (secretly) read/write fan fiction. In fact, since the first book in Clare’s bestselling Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones (2007), wasn’t initially available where I lived (India), my Australian pen pal sent the novels to me via post as a Christmas present. I picked up the later books at my city’s annual bookfair, and by the time the series concluded, gorgeous (and freakishly expensive) box sets of the Mortal Instruments series were on display at all the posh bookstores. 

As one of the most successful contemporary fantasy writers, Cassandra Clare has certainly come a long way—expanding not just the world of Shadowhunters with several prequels and sequels set in the same universe, but writing also for middle-grade audiences and adults. Sword Catcher, released last year, was her first novel aimed at an adult readership—which certainly included her earliest fans, including those who knew her from her fanfiction era (The Draco Trilogy and The Very Secret Diaries, based on Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings respectively, are still around if you know where to look!)

In the Mortal Instruments series, Clare redefined the urban fantasy genre, introducing the readers to a world where magic and myth coexist with reality, and where the non-magical folk (called “mundanes”) are protected from dark forces by the mysterious Shadowhunters. Filled with action, humor, intrigue and a generous heap of romance, the books are very easy to get into and hugely entertaining. 

So, whether you’re planning to revisit the series, or you just stumbled upon her formidable bibliography (including over twenty novels and counting), our guide to the Mortal Instruments series will tell you everything you need to know to get started. 

The Mortal Instruments Series in Order


City of Bones

By Cassandra Clare

The first book in the YA series, City of Bones was published in early 2017. The story unfolds in modern-day New York where creatures from the shadow world (“Downworlders” such as demons, vampires, warlocks, faeries, etc) seemingly live alongside humans unseen. 

The plot centers on Clary Fray, whose life turns upside down when her mother disappears and she herself is attacked by a demon. With the help of the handsome Jace, Clary is introduced to the Shadowhunters’ Institute where she slowly learns more about her magical heritage, trains to be a warrior and develops romantic feelings for Jace, even as new threats surface, putting everyone in great danger.

In many ways, City of Bones is like a teaser trailer for all the other books, which are characterized by breathless action and interesting dynamics (with plenty of sexual tension) between the main characters, seamlessly interweaving creatures from folklore and myth with modern life. 

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments)

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments)

By Cassandra Clare

In City of Ashes, we find Clary firmly embedded in Shadowhunter politics though she’d rather go back to normal life with her best friend, Simon, especially with the revelation that Jace might actually be her brother. But with several Downworlder children being murdered, Clary must help her mother track down the villainous Valentine, even as Jace prepares to betray everyone to please his father. 

City of Glass cover features a man sitting cross-legged

City of Glass

By Cassandra Clare

City of Glass reads like the concluding volume in a trilogy, with Clary and her friends leaving the Institute in New York to travel to the glorious city of Alicante, home to Shadowhunters, in a desperate bid to save her mother, Jocelyn. But soon enough, the characters are embroiled in the Mortal War where the stakes are high and the odds are stacked against them.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare features a woman crouching with a whip

City of Fallen Angels

By Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments series was slated to end with City of Glass, but the enormous popularity of the books spurred Clare to write a second trilogy in the series. 

City of Fallen Angels begins with an idyllic premise—Clary is ready to be a Shadowhunter, Jace is her boyfriend and her mother is about to get married. But this peace doesn’t last long, as someone keeps murdering Shadowhunters, worsening the tensions between the Nephilim and the Downworlders. 

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare features a man drawing a bowstring.

City of Lost Souls

By Cassandra Clare

Jace is clearly the teenage heartthrob in the books, so in City of Lost Souls, Clare introduces newer complications for Jace and Clary’s tenuous relationship, while also focusing on Simon’s journey since his transition to a vampire

Since Lilith’s blood has corrupted Jace, he’s bound with his evil brother Sebastian—but destroying Sebastian will also kill Jace, pushing Clary to her limits and forcing her to make difficult choices in the name of love. 

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare features a winged man with a sword

City of Heavenly Fire

By Cassandra Clare

Finally, in the thrilling conclusion to the series, Shadowhunters are pitted against each other as Sebastian wielding the Infernal Cup transforms the best of the Nephilim into creatures of nightmare. It’s up to our familiar characters—Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle and Alec—to somehow save the day, even if it means risking their lives and venturing into the uncharted realm of demons. 

With a phenomenal ending, City of Heavenly Fire wraps up all the loose ends in the previous books and makes the ride truly worthwhile. 

Companion Books and Spin-offs:

In addition to these six books, Clare has also co-written a number of books, short stories, and novellas set in the same universe.

The Shadowhunter's Codex

The Shadowhunter's Codex

By Cassandra Clare, Joshua Lewis

The Shadowhunter's Codex provides a thorough history of the Nephilm/Shadowhunters, and explains different aspects of the worldbuilding to fans.

The Bane Chronicles

The Bane Chronicles

By Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson

The Bane Chronicles, co-written with Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson, collects several connected novellas focusing on the adventures of charismatic warlock, Magnus Bane, a supporting character in the novels.   

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

By Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman

Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy, co-written with Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman, is also a collection of connected novellas, this time focusing on Simon Lewis, Clary’s best friend who was turned into a vampire and then loses his memories, and now must get them back by training at the Shadowhunter academy. 

Ghosts of the Shadow Market

Ghosts of the Shadow Market

By Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link and Robin Wasserman

Ghosts of the Shadow Market is an anthology of tales co-written by Cassandra Clare along with Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman and Kelly Link). This collection features short stories focusing on Brother Zachariah as he visits the Shadow Market through the centuries. 

Fair warning: This contains spoilers not just for the Mortal Instruments, but also for the prequel series, The Infernal Devices and The Last Hours, and the sequel series, The Dark Artifices. Save this up for the very end!