Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows are the first two books in Cassandra Clare’s The Dark Artifices series, which is the third series in The Shadowhunter Chronicles. We first meet the characters that we follow in this series in City of Heavenly Fire, the sixth book in The Mortal Instruments, however Lady Midnight takes place a few years after when the characters are slightly older. With the release of the third Dark Artifices book, Queen of Air and Darkness, soon approaching, I thought that I would post a joint review for the first two books in anticipation for the next.
Before I get into my actual review, I thought that I should explain to those of you who have perhaps not read the all of the previous series and novella bindups set in this world, whether it is necessary to do so in order to be able to read this series. The answer is no. Cassandra Clare has previously stated that The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments series are seperate enough for reading them prior to not be mandatory, however you would highly benefit from reading all instalments in publication order. The novella bindups (The Bane Chronicles and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy) are also helpful for understanding the series, but again not completely necessary.
‘In a kingdom by the sea… In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, Parabatai is a sacred word. A Parabatai is your partner in battle. A Parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other – but they can never fall in love. Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter. She lives for battle. Alongside her Parabatai Julian Blackthorn, she patrols Los Angeles, where vampires party on the sunset strip, and faeries – the most powerful of supernatural creatures – teeter on the edge of war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries are found murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held by the Faerie Courts. All they have to do is solve the murders within two weeks … and before the murderer targets them. Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid Parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents – and can she bear to know the truth?’
Most of the characters in this novel were a real positive for me. I loved how we got to see Emma and the Blackthorns at an older age than what we did in City of Heavenly Fire; it was lovely to see how mature they had become, specifically Julian who is the eldest brother to many siblings who depend on him. It was also great how Clare included some characters from the previous series set in this world. The Mortal Instruments is a very important series to me, so the fact that some of the characters were included in Lady Midnight’s plot line was wonderful. Tessa and Jem from The Infernal Devices also made appearances. We were introduced to a large number of new characters too – to name a few Christina, Diego and Kit – who I thought to be very strong additions; their stories were mysterious and interesting yet intertwined perfectly with the major plot of this book. The interactions between characters were all very well thought out and paced which I applaud the author for.
Family is a massive aspect of this series, however I didn’t think that the younger Blackthorns were particularly relevant in this book other than when one of them helped with the important discovery of Lady Midnight. I understand that the others help create a family dynamic and massively influence how we as readers see Julian as a caring figure, but individually I didn’t think that they brought much to the story. I think the only reason as to why this bothered me is because there are so many books, and therefore characters, set in this world to remember, that I didn’t want to spend my time reading about characters who didn’t really impact the story. However, this is only the first book, and there is plenty of time for these characters to grow on me in the following novels.
I found the story line to be very impressive. The synopsis lead me to think this before I even read the novel, but I can confirm that I was not disappointed. Lady Midnight involves all of the things we love about the Shadowhunter world (such as demons and epic fighting scenes) as well as doubling as a murder mystery. Clare really knows how to keep her audience on the edge of their seats with the action and suspense that was apparent throughout the entire novel. Moreover the world building was incredible. Because of the previous series I didn’t think that there was much more to learn, but in this story we delve deeper into the politics of the Shadowhunter world and continue to unravel secrets about its history.
So overall I think very highly of Lady Midnight. I do think it could have been condensed, though, as it seemed a bit unnecessarily long. This along with the fact that I didn’t love all of the characters that everyone else seems to meant that I could not give this book a 5/5 stars. I would instead rate this as a very strong 4 star read.
Lord of Shadows
‘Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her Parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden – it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from him. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides? Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend Christina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own. When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows – the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As danger closes in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.’
One of my complaints about the first book in this series was how I didn’t think that some of the younger Blackthorns held much relevance, but my opinion definitely changed when I read the second book. I still don’t love all of them (except Ty who I have grown to adore), but this group of characters contributed much more to the plot this time around and their thoughts/feelings were taken into consideration a lot more too. To continue talking about the characters, I enjoyed how often Magnus appeared in the book as he is one of my all time favourite characters from The Shadowhunter Chronicles. We also got to learn a lot more about Kit which was really interesting; he was one of the characters who remained quite mysterious in Lady Midnight so it was nice to see more of him in Lord of Shadows – and especially the development of his and Ty’s friendship.
This book made my heart break due to both romantic and platonic love and heartbreak. Whilst I do evidently love the relationships in this series, it does seem as if every character the author introduces has to have a love interest which is unnecessary. I really do hope that Queen of Air and Darkness will focus less on relationship drama and more on the actual plot. But in between all of that was a fun and dangerous adventure that kept me hooked to the story. We got to see a lot more of Faerie which was really compelling to read about, and Clare’s atmospheric description of this setting was beautiful so I’m therefore glad that it was included. I also noticed and appreciated the parallels between the politics and oppression that’s apparent in our world today and the Shadowhunter world for the reason that it really put things into perspective.
Again, I thought this book was far longer than needed. Another negative point is that I personally found some of the dialogue to be a bit too childish/naive even from the older characters, which is a weird contrast to the adult themes that are present in the series. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading this novel, and I gave it a 4.5 stars.