It is always compelling when an author takes the real world and twists it into something frought with otherwordly danger. Cassandra Claire has done exactly this, a world every bit as rich as the one Harry Potter inhabits, and just like that world it is highly derivative of many similar stories that have been before, building layer upon layer of the familiar into a rich tapestry that is as comforting and familiar as it is exciting.
This is a teenage book of angst as much as it is of vampires and werewolves and otherwordly creatures, that has many people comparing it to Buffy. And on the surface this would be right, a girl gets caught in a world where people are trying to destroy bad supernatural creatures. To me though it was far more reminiscent of Stephenie Meyer's first book in the amount of teenage angst it manages to dredge up.
Did I enjoy it - well, yes I did, and certainly more than Stephenie Meyer, but not nearly so much as my niece who is perfectly situated in the demographic this book was designed for - thirteen to eighteen year olds.