Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
My Rating: 3.5 stars
GoodReads Average Rating: 4.58 stars
GoodReads Synopsis: A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by the honour. The word of Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love. 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 Julian. 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, Cristina; 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 dangers close 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.
Let me first start off by saying that ever since I started to read Cassandra’s books, I haven’t been a fan – most of them have left me unemotional or even bored, and I was never a huge fan of the author herself. So to say I was surprised when I picked up Lady Midnight for a reread and found that I was tense with excitement for the plot is an understatement. I knew The Dark Artifices was Cassandra’s best one yet so I was very curious to find out how the second book went, I reread Lady Midnight and then finally cracked open Lord of Shadows. And blow me down, this has steadily made its way up the list of my favourite books.
Having grown attached to all the characters in Lady Midnight, I was very excited to see how Cassandra developed their character arcs. And my freaking heart was torn apart. I had grown even more attached to these characters, the family dynamics, the relationships, the secrets, the trust and the unending love between them all made me want to give them a huge squishy hug and keep them protected. And well to say Cassandra crushed my ability to move afterwards is an understatement. Y’all must be prepared for a pile of laughter, tears and love when it comes to the Dark Artifice characters. Another thing that made me really enjoy this book was the mix of all the old and new characters, I enjoyed seeing the mix of the twisted dark faeries and then the faded old faces appearing now and then. But there were some characters that I just wanted to strangle so much. Oh my gosh, towards the end my temper was running high and I really just wanted to reach inside the page and shake them all. Cassandra did a really good job of building up different dynamics and levels of villains in this book. Which brings me onto another thing, the antihero (? – I don’t feel they really class as a villain) is so complex which I love as it brings much more depth to the page than the average I-am-just-evil-for-the-sake-of-it trope.
Moreover, another thing that I adored was the plot. I have always loved Cassandras writing – which is I believe I keep coming back to her books because I just can’t seem to be kept away! But this book especially, the writing was descriptive another that the plot flowed onto the next page seamlessly – but not too flowery that it had me skimming the pages awaiting the next action. And alongside the writing, I really, really enjoyed how Cassandra opened up more of the shadow hunter world and as a reader, we got to explore the depths of the Faerie lands, and more into the dark history of their past.
SPOILERS REGARDING A SIDE RELATIONSHIP AHEAD
But despite all this good stuff that I am banging on about I do need to make it clear that this book does have a lot of problems. As a bisexual reader, I was ecstatic reading about Mark and him being so openly bi, however, this does not excuse the on and off uncomfortable feeling I had regarding the love triangle thingy he was in. A love triangle by itself is enough to make me grit my teeth, but what some readers have to understand, that by placing the only bi character in a loose end relationship with two characters makes him fall into the harmful threesome trope for bisexuals and in my opinion rubbed me the wrong way, as it comes across as the stereotypical bi man who wants both genders at the same time. My only hope is that in the next book this love triangle relationship thing going on actually develops into a positive polyamorous relationship between Mark, Cristina and Kerian with some good rep – which, by the way, my good friend Romie pointed out would be a good way for the plot and relationship to develop. (Go check her out at https://romiewedeservelove.wordpress.com/!!!)
Another thing that I need to say is that I was not entirely happy with the way Cassandra portrayed Diana’s coming out as transgender. As it was a secret for the majority of two books, when she said she was transgender it was presented like a plot twist or came across as if it was meant to have a shock factor. This is very harmful to Trans readers because no one’s identity should be used as a plot device for other readers’ pleasure. However, please also do bear in mind that LGBTQIA+ readers are not monolithic so therefore not all trans readers may mind it being kept a secret, but for some people, it is harmful therefore should be stopped. Another thing to be wary of is Trigger Warnings for the use of Diana being dead named. This happened a lot over a small amount of space – so please, everyone keep safe and protect yourselves.
Overall, this book is certainly placed high on my end list of 2017 favourites and I can not believe we have to wait another two years till the next one!! Although after that ending…. Even I would have to recover from writing such plot!!!! If you have yet to pick up any of Cassandra’s books – I would highly recommend these – although you may want to familiarise yourself with the shadow hunter world first!
-S O P H