Book Review: "Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices)" by Cassandra Clare
Before I start with a brief synopsis, I want to ensure everyone that I will give more than a fair spoiler alert. I'll be sure to keep all spoilers out of the synopsis and will let you know a spoiler may be coming during my more in-depth review. I will still do my best to not spoil or reveal too much at any time.
In case you missed it from the title, this is a review for Cassandra Clare's Lady Midnight, the first book in The Dark Artifices series. I know I'm a little late to the party with this review, seeing as the book released in March of 2016, but since I just finished the second book in the series, Lord of Shadows, I figured this was a good time to review them both.
Synopsis of Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices)
For those of you who have read Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series, this book takes place 5 years after the events of City of Heavenly Fire. For those of you new to Clare's work, just know that, while this book can be read with no prior knowledge of The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices, there are other books set in this same Shadowhunter world and there will be references made to the other series.
This book focuses on the Blackthorn family and the other inhabitants of the Los Angeles institute, namely Julian Blackthorn and Emma Carstairs. The two are now parabatai (bonded together) and spend most of the book exploring their relationship. With Julian's help, Emma is hell-bent on discovering who murdered her parents and why. Her investigation leads them down a dangerous path to an unlikely murderer.
Besides discovering an ally is a murderer, Emma and the Blackthorns have to deal with the loss of family members, the regaining of family members, and finding new, unlikely friends.
Only keep reading if you do not mind spoilers. You have been warned!
Summary and Review of Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices)
If you have scrolled past the spoiler alert warning, I will assume one of two things. One: You have already read this book. Two: You do not care I am about to reveal major plot points, you just want to know what happens in the book. Either one works for me. I'll still try not to give away too much, and will leave the end out of my review. So, let's jump in.
As I touched on in the synopsis, the book's major focus is on Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn, who are now parabatai (the ceremony took place during Tales from The Shadowhunter Academy). They are back to living at the Los Angeles institute with Diana, their tutor, and Arthur, the Blackthorn's estranged (and strange) uncle. Even five years after the War, Shadowhunters are still dealing with the aftermath. The Cold Peace forbids interactions with Faeries, Institutes are still recovering from attacks, and the Shadowhunter population is still at an all time low.
As you come to discover, Julian is the true head of the Los Angeles Institute. Arthur is often incapacitated, suffering from what appears to be dementia (the book does not explicitly say dementia, but the symptoms show evidence of dementia). As if running the institute wasn't enough for a teenager, Julian is also solely responsible for his siblings: the twins, Ty and Livvy, Dru, and Tavvy. Of course Diana and Emma help with the children, but in Julian's mind, he is their only family and is the one ultimately responsible for them.
Emma has her own problems as well. Five years later, she still has no answers about the mysterious death of her parents. The Clave (Shadowhunter government) has offered no help or answers. Emma is still looking for their killer and the reason why they were murdered so gruesomely.
As I mentioned in my introduction, reading The Mortal Instruments series is not necessary, but in my opinion, you definitely should. One of the biggest surprises of this book is the return of Mark Blackthorn. He is Julian's older brother and has spent the last five years with the Wild Hunt. The Clave had abandoned all attempts to rescue him from the Faeries after he was abducted in City of Heavenly Fire. Mark's arrival brings a whole separate set of problems, including Gwyn, the leader of the Wild Hunt, and Kieran, an exiled prince and Mark's lover.
Kit Rook is a character we see a little bit of throughout the book, and only becomes important towards the end. He is the son of Johnny Rook, a conman who deals with Downworlders and dark magic. With the help of Jem and Tessa, we find out that Kit is actually Christopher, the lost Herondale.
Another curveball Clare throws at us is the relationship of Emma and Julian. As parabatai, they are a bonded pair. They make each other strong and can feel each other's emotions. They are closer than family. However, Shadowhunter law prevents them from being in love with each other. For the astute readers of this article, you are correct in thinking I am not giving you this random tidbit of Shadowhunter law for kicks. I would only mention it if, you guessed it, Emma and Julian develop romantic feelings for each other.
Even though I gave a spoiler warning, I still do not want to ruin the end. What I will give away is that Emma does find her parents' murderer. Emma has actually been friends with this person for several years, never knowing they were the murderer.
Characters in the Novel
I didn't intend to give a breakdown of all of the characters, but I did want to point out a few things.
For fans on The Mortal Instruments, you will be happy to hear that Jace and Clary , as well as Magnus, make an appearance. Their appearance is brief, but I was excited to see them in this book.
For fans of both The Mortal Instruments and/or The Infernal Devices, Jem and Tessa also make an appearance. Since Jem is Emma's only living relative, I did expect to see him in the book a bit more, but nevertheless, he is there.
There are other characters who play an important role in the book I did not cover in the summary. Christina is on her travel year from the Mexico Institute. She and Emma form a bond and help each other through difficult situations.
Malcolm Fade is the high warlock of Los Angeles and a regular visitor to the Los Angeles Institute. To not ruin the end of the book, all I will say is that he plays a major role.
If you thought the characters of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices were dynamic, you will be impressed with the arc of the characters in Lady Midnight. Clare has once again written characters with depth and dimension that you can watch change and grow over the course of the book. With the book being relatively long (around 700 pages) it was fun to watch the characters evolve and to be able to compare the difference between them at the beginning versus them at the end.
I may be biased because I was already a Cassandra Clare fan, but I would definitely give Lady Midnight five stars. The plot had substance, the characters are well developed, and I love her writing style. I didn't think she could outdo The Mortal Instruments series, but she really may have with this book. If you've read it, comment below and let me know what you think.
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