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We first meet Clary and her best friend, Simon, in the midst of a bunch of hullabaloo at the Pandemonium Club, where she discovers a bunch of supernatural people called Shadowhunters or Nephilim. Take your pick.
After a really bad poetry reading the next day, Clary follows Jace, the sexiest of the Nephilim, into an alleyway and confronts him about all the weird stuff she saw.
Her phone rings, and it's her mom on the line. Unfortunately, she's attacked, and the line goes dead.
Back at her apartment, Clary finds a poisonous demon instead of her mother.
She's attacked by the demon, saved by Jace, and passes out, only to wake up three days later in a place called the Institute.
Once recovered, Clary decides to go back and investigate her apartment, searching for clues of her mother's disappearance.
With help from all the Shadowhunters, Clary uncovers a lot of clues and discovers that she has a mental block preventing her from seeing all things magical.
They try to get the High Warlock of Brooklyn, Magnus Bane, to erase the block, but he can't.
While Magnus is failing to help Clary, Simon gets turned into a rat and later kidnapped by a pack of vampires. Don't worry; they save him.
After everyone's all mended, Jace takes Clary on a midnight picnic and they share their first kiss.
Later, Clary realizes that her mother hid the Mortal Cup in a painting.
They retrieve the Cup, despite being attacked by a giant demon, only to have Hodge betray them all and turn the Cup over to Valentine.
Clary and Luke storm Valentine's castle, where Clary finds out that she and Jace are brother and sister. Blech.
Valentine manages to escape with the Cup, but Clary rescues her mother.
The book ends with Clary and Jace flying over the city, and Clary marveling at her newfound appreciation of the world.