Review: Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare

ladymidnightThe Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. “Lady Midnight” is a Shadowhunters novel. 

It s been five years since the events of “City of Heavenly Fire” that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses. 

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn t lead her in treacherous directions.

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark who was captured by the faeries five years ago has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind and they need the Shadowhunters help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Published: May 8th, 2016

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Warning: there are spoilers for “City of Heavenly Fire” by Cassandra Clare

When it comes to Cassandra Clare, readers are often quite divided: you either love the Shadow World that Clare has constructed, or you hate it. (And whether you love it or you hate it is perfectly fine.) Personally, I consider Cassandra Clare to be a queen, I love her writing style and envy her ability to create such wonderful, life-like characters. This is a very intricate world, with extraordinary characters and fascinating creatures, and it only continues to grow better and better with each new book and with each new series. “Lady Midnight”, the first book in The Dark Artifices series, is a wonderful example of this.

“Lady Midnight” takes place five years after the events of the last The Mortal Instruments book: “City of Heavenly Fire”. It focuses on Emma Carstairs, a young girl who was orphaned during the events of the Dark War — and whilst it is believed that Sebastian Morgenstern was responsible for the deaths of her parents, she does not believe it, which is a very prominent storyline throughout the book. Overall, Emma is a very interesting character. A lot of times during The Mortal Instruments Clary would sometimes annoy me with her inability to fight as well as the others and, at times, her whining. But Emma is nothing like Clary. And I think that this has to do with the fact that Emma has grown up in the Shadowhunter world — her entire life was spent learning how to fight. Emma is strong and sarcastic (in some ways reminding me of Jace), but she also possesses this darkness within her, a sadness that Clare is able to captivate so beautifully in her writing.

Another very important character in “Lady Midnight” is Julian Blackthorn. Whilst Emma is considered to be the main character of this series, I find myself arguing that Julian is honestly the real star of this book. Julian is such a beautifully tragic character, however, it is only through his relationship with Emma and his brother Mark that we get to see this side of him. Otherwise, he keeps it pretty well hidden. His mother died of cancer when he was a child, his father died during the Dark War, his sister was exiled and his brother was kidnapped, leaving Julian in the hands of an uncle that he barely knows. This means that he has to take responsibility for his younger siblings — Livia, Tiberius, Drusilla and Octavian — and I love the way that Clare has created this strong family unit that I desperately want to be part of. I want to become a Blackthorn.

There is no doubt that Clare’s writing style has definitely matured since her first book “City of Bones”. Seriously, if you were to compare “Lady Midnight” with “City of Bones” you would be amazed by how much Clare’s writing has improved. The writing is simple, but beautiful, and at times comes across as almost poetic. This can be seen most definitely in her development of the characters, and not just Emma and Julian. Other standout characters are definitely Cristina Rosales (she is probably one of my favourite characters), Tiberius Blackthorn and Mark Blackthorn — but the other characters so beautifully written and very well developed, allowing for the next two books to really bring them to life even more.

There are some criticisms that I do have, though. With this being a continuation of her Shadowhunter series, Clare allows us to visit some of our other favourite characters from both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices. Whilst, at first, this seems kind of fun (and in some cases very important to the overall storyline), after a while I felt as though the time that was given to them could have been used to focus on other characters, especially the Blackthorns.

Additionally, other readers have argued that the book is incredibly long, perhaps even too long. I have to agree — somewhat — that this book is very long. The beginning could have been edited down a bit, but at the same time I feel as though I would not have formed such a strong connection to the characters if the beginning had not been the way it was. So there are some advantages and some disadvantages. I’m a bit split on the length, but I guess whether a book being too long or too short is up to personal preference.

Overall, this was an incredible book.

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