Book Review: Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare (ft. My Annotations & Moodboard)

There aren’t enough words in the universe to convey how much I adore The Infernal Devices trilogy and the Shadowhunter world. 😭❤️ When I found out that Cassandra Clare would be writing a series for Tessa Grey and Will Herondale’s children, my heart almost combusted.

Chain of Gold reignited all my nostalgic memories and dreams for adventure, bringing together a new cast of characters that I was excited to love. ✨ However, I wouldn’t say that this book is Cassie’s best work because in some ways, it felt almost incomplete, and I was longing for more.

CHAIN OF GOLD (THE LAST HOURS #1) by Cassandra Clare

PUBLISHED BY Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster) on March 3rd 2020

GENRES: Fantasy

PAGES: 624


Chain of Gold is the first novel in a new trilogy that stars the Shadowhunters of Edwardian London.

Welcome to Edwardian London, a time of electric lights and long shadows, the celebration of artistic beauty and the wild pursuit of pleasure, with demons waiting in the dark. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world. James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, have grown up in an idyll with their loving friends and family, listening to stories of good defeating evil and love conquering all. But everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London…and so does a remorseless and inescapable plague.

James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love.

Content/Trigger Warnings: violence, on-page death, grief, trauma, alcoholism

Set in the Edwardian era in London, Chain of Gold follows the children of our beloved The Infernal Devices characters. ✨ Cordelia Carstairs, niece of Jem Carstairs, has returned to the London Institute with her mother and brother, Alistar Carstairs, and Cordelia is on a mission to clear her father’s name after he’s arrested by the Clave.  

“They need a muse,” said Anna. “Someone to be inspired by. Someone to know their secrets. Would you like to be a muse?”

“No,” said Cordelia. “I would like to be a hero.”

In London, she’s reunited with her soon-to-be parabatai, Lucie Herondale, and childhood crush, James Herondale, both of whom are children of our beloved Tessa and Will Herondale. (*whisper* OTP 4ever) As shadowhunter children with ⅙ demon blood, they soon discover that they also have unique magical abilities, like their mother. 

James Herondale, alongside other familiar names, Matthew Fairchild (Charlotte & Henry’s son), Christopher Lightwood (Cecily & Gabriel’s son), and Thomas Lightwood (Sophie & Gideon’s son) make up a lovable gang of misfits called the Merry Thieves. Growing up in a time with noticeably little demonic activity, this generation of Shadowhunters have their lives uprooted by a series of sudden demon attacks. 🗡

We’re also joined with a vast cast of side characters because, of course, our lovable Shadowhunters love to procreate ensure the line of angelic warriors. We have Matthew’s older brother and Charlotte & Henry’s eldest son, Charles Buford Fairchild. Not to mention, Christopher and Thomas’s many many many siblings (ok they each have like 2 others but they’re honestly not that important for this book)

The large ensemble of characters made it easy to get lost while reading because I kept trying to recall who was whose child so I found myself referencing the Shadowhunter family tree often…which sort of spoiled which romantic pairings were endgame, but it’s still fun to see unfold. 🙈Still, I have so much love for these characters, and it’s amazing to see them grow into parents and build families together. 🥺❤️ 

One of the things that Cassandra Clare does best is drop little Easter Eggs throughout her books, bringing in references from other series and novellas and foreshadowing upcoming events. 🥚 For example, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy explains how the Merry Thieves met, and Ghosts of the Shadow Market gives insight into Matthew Fairchild’s secrets. 

In some ways, this feels like a double-edged sword because if you’ve read all of Cassie’s books, these Easter Eggs become so much more special to you, but if you haven’t, you’re missing a critical piece to the story. Sometimes, I like to joke that the Shadowhunter universe is like the Apple ecosystem–it works best when you have all the branded pieces.

“There is no better distraction in this world than losing oneself in books for awhile.”

Despite this 500-page book being looong, I couldn’t help but feel as if it were incomplete. 🙁 Something was missing, and I can’t pinpoint exactly what. During Cassie’s Q&A, she mentioned that she enjoyed writing the 2nd book most because the 1st book was usually just setting the stage, and this was really evident here. 

There was just so much to learn and pick up on in terms of new characters, new powers, new problems while also trying to fill in gaps of time between TID and now…that even with the extensive page length, the pacing couldn’t keep up so action scenes could only come in sporadically. OH!! also, the book jumps between past and present which I personally found distracting, but I can see others loving. 

Now, by no means is Cassandra Clare the epitome for diversity in YA, but as someone who read her books in 6th grade to senior year of college, I’m so happy to see how her world has broadened. Our leading lady is Persian, and we see a span of LGBTQIA+ characters in 20th century London that I just want to protecc with my whole heart. 😭❤️  

Next…let’s talk about 💖 romance 💖and how WE DIDN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT. 

Because we’re spending so much of the book learning about everyone, we don’t get to see the classic Cassandra Clare ~angst~ and pining and ASDFGHJKL. Without giving away too many spoilers, let me just say: too many Grace Blackthorn scenes…not enough Cordelia Carstairs. MY GIRL DESERVES BETTER.

My favorite scenes throughout the book were hands down the interactions between Lucie Herondale and Jesse Blackthorn, and personally, I didn’t think we got enough of those either(!!) Most of the romance scenes in this book felt like it was just setting the stage for Book 2.

“That’s everyone’s dream, isn’t it, really? Instead of many who give you little pieces of themselves-one who gives you everything.”

Overall, Chain of Gold was still a spectacular read, but it didn’t pack the punch that Cassie’s first books usually do. Still, I’m incredibly excited to learn more about our main characters because honestly, reading a Cassandra Clare Shadowhunter book feels like home. 😭❤️

My Annotations 📝

I originally started off by annotating within my book, but eventually, I started jotting down my thoughts on my iPhone notes app. I didn’t manage to get every random thought written down but here are some of my annotations!


Also, in case you missed it, I’m hosting a 🎁 giveaway 🎁 for a signed hardcover copy of the book and a set of character cards in my last blog post since I was lucky enough to attend Cassandra Clare’s author signing.

Have you read Chain of Gold?

What were your thoughts?

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21 thoughts on “Book Review: Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare (ft. My Annotations & Moodboard)

  1. I haven’t read any of Cassandra Clare’s books but this review makes me quite interested in stepping into this fandom. I love the idea of adding annotations to your review 😍


    1. Ahhh you definitely should!! There are so many books to catch up on, but I would say if you’re not in the mood for all of them to just skip the main series and just read THE INFERNAL DEVICES and THE DARK ARTIFICES 🙈


  2. 😆 I can’t wait to get my hands on this one! Will and Tessa have been my favorite couple so far (I love Jen but not for Tessa). I cried so hard at the end of ID. So I’m a total fangirl for any drop of them and their families. 💜 Thanks for the review!!


    1. Ahh I’m the exact same way!! I C R I E D at the end of clockwork princess!! 🥰 Thank you so much for loving my review!!


  3. I read City of Bones like, a couple years ago? I ended up not liking it or continuing the series, but my friends are yelling at me to read a different series. Someday, once I tackle the rest of my tbr! 😆 I love this, Tiffany! Especially your annotations. 😉


    1. Yes!! I would agree with your friends that City of Bones series are ehhhh, but the prequel series (The Infernal Devices) and the sequel series (The Dark Artifices) are SO GOOD!!!

      Thank you for reading my review ❤️


  4. I haven’t kept super up to date with the Shadowhunters (only read TID and maybe half of TMI) but I’ve been wanting to get back into the books – only because Chains of Gold has Tessa and Will’s children (I’m very TID biased). I just don’t know how to catch up on everything cause there are so many books in the series now O _ O


    1. Ahhh yes!! That’s such a mood because there’s soo many books. I think you don’t need to read the rest of TMI or TDA truthfully to understand what’s going on in Chain of Gold!


  5. I haven’t read this book. I haven’t read many books in the series, to be honest, but I’m interested in jumping in. I love that reading this book feels like home to you and that it features a next-generation of Shadowhunters!


    1. You should definitely give it a try!! The Shadowhunter world is so amazing, and I love all the characters so much 🥰


  6. i’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this book!! it’s so difficult to keep up with the shadowhunter books (AND THE CHARACTERS omg fdjkfakf) but I did absolutely adore TID and Will 🥺🥺🥺 a whole baby 🥺🥺

    thats the biggest thing holding me back from picking up the book, having to read all the previous books/short stories or else i’ll miss out on little details is Stressful

    that moodboard is too beautiful for words!!! ugh i love the old England aesthetic!! 😍😍 i’m glad you enjoyed it thoughhh❤️


    1. ahhh i adored it with my whole heart, may!! the characters. the herondales!!!

      if you’re not feeling up for reading the previous books, i would recommend just reading the shadowhunter wikia!! that’s what i did to cross reference things i forgot too 🥰

      and ahhh i’m so glad you like the moodboard too!!


  7. “GRACE YOU’RE SO ANNOYING AND IN THE WAY” is honestly my 2020 mood 😂I guess I see what you mean about COG feeling incomplete – it doesn’t have the usual Cassie formula of *ANGST* and *EPIC FIGHT SCENES* and *SHOCKING BETRAYALS*. But honestly, I kind of enjoyed that – after the emotional trauma of The Dark Artifices, it was nice to get a (relatively) more chill book 😅

    I was interested to see whether I would fall in love with these characters as much as I have with the others in Cassie’s previous books & Idk how she does it – I would honestly protect all these characters with my LIFE (except Grace, obvi – although I too accidentally spoiled myself about the endgame pairings while looking up Shadowhunter family trees & I’m interested to see if Grace has a redemption arc 😏)

    Awesome review, and your annotations GAVE ME LIFE 😂

    💛 Ngoc



      and OOO I definitely understand your perspective for sure. TDA was so INTENSE it’s also really nice to get a book that is a little less (also bc we know all of those factors are coming in for book 2 and 3) 🥰

      And yes!! I think I love Lucie and Jesse so so much, and they’re my faves atm but I think I need to know more to fall in love with all the characters.

      I’m so glad that you love my review!! (and annotations) 😂


  8. Okay but omg I absolutely loved reading your annotations haha feels like we were chatting about the book while reading it :)) and now I feel like we need to buddy read something because you are so funny and I totally agree with all of it?!


    1. HAHA IM SO GLAD!! AND YES let’s totally buddy read one day!! (I’m easier to reach through DM on IG or Twitter) I try to annotate more of my books, but it’s super hard because I forget to 😂


  9. I love all Cassandra clare her books so much! I loved seeing Will. I REALLY WANT TO MARRY HIM. But my new favourite character is Matthew. I just want him to be happy. Cassie said the family tree is betraying us and I NEED ANSWERS.


    1. AHHH RIGHT??? I love him so so much!! and OMGM I KNOW I feel like it has to do with Jesse Blackthorn but I love him and Lucie so much I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS


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