Cassandra Clare's 'City of Heavenly Fire': Read an excerpt -- EXCLUSIVE

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The final installment of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series doesn’t hit shelves until May 27. The good news? That’s only a few months away. The bad news? City of Heavenly Fire is veiled in all kinds of secrecy. I can only assume the manuscript is being guarded by lock and key somewhere in Idris. Fortunately, Cassandra Clare was nice enough to share a few non-spoilery details about the much-anticipated sixth book. (The cover was revealed earlier this month.) To sweeten the pot, she gave us an exclusive excerpt from City of Heavenly Fire. So, by the angel, read on!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First of all, what do you think about the cover?
CASSANDRA CLARE: I really love this cover. Cliff [Nielsen] has done all of my covers since the beginning, and I think he has created a unique look that is specific to the series. We talked back in the beginning about deciding who was going to go on what cover, and that this cover was going to end up with Clary and her brother. This is the big face-off. This is the book where she goes up against her brother Sebastian, and he is the big villain. It’s kind of like a Batman/Joker cover. … And in a way, there’s a play of light and dark going on on the cover, and that sets up a big battle between good and evil with Clary standing for good and Sebastian standing for evil. There’s also little clues for the readers who have been reading the series a long time in the weapons that they’re holding, in the necklace that Clary is wearing, and especially in the landscape that they’re standing on. It gives a hint about what’s coming and what’s going to happen in the book.

Any other cover tidbits?
This cover is exciting and really beautiful, but a really cool thing about it that hasn’t been revealed yet is that it actually wraps around to a whole back of the jacket. If you take the jacket off, the whole image wraps around to an interior image that shows all of the rest of the other characters. They’ve never gotten their own covers, so this is a chance to see them for the last time. I think it’s something that people are really going to love. It makes the jacket a piece of art.

You had a huge reveal on The Insider. What was that like?
It’s very strange for me, because for the first three books, the idea of a cover reveal being an exciting thing — for something that wasn’t Harry Potter — was so weird. My first three covers were posted to my blog. Obviously, having the cover revealed on TV is the biggest thing I’ve ever done, and it really was a strange feeling. I turned on the TV, watched the cover reveal, and my husband and I just sat there and we were like, “That was so weird.” [Laughs] I was like, “That was me on TV! And that’s the cover of my book!” We were just sitting around in our ordinary, normal house having macaroni and cheese for dinner doing our work. It was a little sliver of surrealism in my life.

There are no advance copies of City of Heavenly Fire. How hard is it to keep everything about the book a secret?
When there are [advance copies], I feel like I am more able to talk about [the books] in interviews and online, even though, of course, I don’t want to spoil people. But this one is under such a blanket of secrecy, I am a little bit scared to say anything. And it took me awhile to get used to that. … The idea that this stuff is kept so under wraps is really hard to adjust to as a writer, but I will say that people have read it. I have a whole writing group. They have all read it and given me notes.

What can you tease about the book?
I can definitely say that the characters go to a location that we’ve heard about, but we’ve never seen in any of the books. There is a death of a major character really early on in the book that I think will surprise people. And there are two weddings.

How does it feel to finally be at the end of this series?
Wrapping up a series that’s been going on for so long — and it’s the year after the movie came out — you really feel like this is the most highly anticipated book I’ve written and will maybe ever write. So it’s certainly an incredibly odd feeling.

Now that you’re finished with The Mortal Instruments, what other projects are you working on?
One of the things I’m super excited about is a TV project. I can’t say that much about it because it’s super secret. But it’s been really fun, and I’m really excited. Sorry I can’t say more.

When do you think you’ll be able to speak freely?
I’m guessing in a couple of months, but it’s super exciting because I love television.

What else are you working on? 
Well, City of Heavenly Fire comes out in May. Then in September, I have a book coming out called The Iron Trial which is co-written with Holly Black. It’s written for a slightly younger audience. And after that, we’ll get into The Dark Artifices, which is another series set in the same world of The Mortal Instruments that takes place five years after. It picks up with the story of a group of characters who are actually introduced in City of Heavenly Fire. We get to know them, and then we’re going to follow their adventures. That should be out next year.

UP NEXT: What you’ve all been waiting for. Read an exclusive excerpt from City of Heavenly Fire!

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