Study Guide

City of Ashes Setting

By Cassandra Clare


New York City, Present

Unwelcome to New York

City of Ashes takes place in the emptiest vision of New York City we've seen since Stanley Kubrick tried to trick us into thinking Eyes Wide Shut was filmed there.

Clary gets rides from Luke and there never seems to be traffic. They fight demons in Brooklyn and bury a body in Queens and no one notices. Clary rides the train and always seems to find a seat no problem. Where did everyone in New York go? Is the city less populated in this fictional depiction, or is Clary too self-absorbed to notice anyone but herself? The one time she actually encounters another pedestrian (which is in the Epilogue) she:

[…] screamed, What do you think you're looking at, jerk? at him, because that was what you did in New York. (Epilogue.154)

Yes, that's what you do in New York, if you're a horrible person. Taylor Swift would not approve.

Besides roaming deserted streets, we sometimes see landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge or the Statue of Liberty (Prologue.2). However, in this version of New York, what's being welcomed to the city is a fear demon. We don't think it counts as "tired" or "poor", but it is definitely a huddled mass of icky demonic badness.