Fifteen year-old Clary Fray doesn't realize that she is the only one who can see the three teenagers killing the cute blue-haired boy in the storage closet of the Pandemonium Club in NYC. Although the incident doesn't spark the next sequence of events, it is closely tied to it. Clary's mother disappears, Clary barely survives an attack by a psycho killer centipede-alligator-thingy, and Clary soon realizes that she is gifted with the sight of otherworldly creatures because she is one herself (a Shadowhunter, to be exact). She joins up with the three Shadowhunter teenagers she saw killing at Pandemonium to try to find her mother. It turns out that she is in the middle of a conflict between the Shadowhunters, Downworlders, and members of the Shoadowhunter "Circle" that started just before she was born, and her mother knows where the vital Mortal Cup is located. Clary sets out to find the Mortal Cup so she can rescue her mother from the evil shadowhunter Valentine who has returned to the scene. The quote on the front of the book from Holly Black says the novel is "funny, dark, and sexy." I agree whole-heartedly with all of those adjectives and would add "suspenseful" as well. I can't wait for the next installment, which comes out in March.
It occurred to me in reading this book that the only thing that separates this from a paranormal romance novel is the teen-age of the characters and the lack of sex scenes. I don't say this negatively since, hey, I like romance novels. I am just noting it because I can see how people who liked this book and others like it as teens may grow up to like romance novels. Or I can see how adults who like romance novels would like this book. I never thought I liked sci-fi or fantasy, but apparently I now find myself liking "urban fantasy."