Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices #1
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 668 (ARC)
Source: Borrowed from friends
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, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up 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 prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian 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?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

When I first borrowed LADY MIDNIGHT from a friend, I was extremely concerned. I was still in London and this book is a brick. It's more than a brick...it's a potential murder weapon it's so big. I read so little while abroad, so I thought realistically this book would never be finished. Well, several held trains and conveniently placed airplane rides later, I managed to finish this behemoth in less than six days. And, I have to say, I am satisfied with what I read.

Clare falls into her usual recapping habits, which means reiterating nearly everything that happened previously in a very obvious way. As someone who hasn't read the last three books in The Mortal Instruments because I found myself satisfied with the original trilogy, she cleared up a lot of things I missed. Super appreciated and convenient for readers like myself, but I can also see it dragging a bit for readers who did read all the TMI books because of how repetitive it was for someone who didn't. With that being said, I do not think it's crucial to have read the TMI books and TID books before reading this new trilogy, but the prior knowledge I have from reading them definitely helped me put things into perspective and understand circumstances a little better.

I will admit that she delivers a really strong female heroine in Emma Carstairs (a female who is just as strong as Jace, ya'll!), which was lovely. And an equally strong male in Jules Blackthorn, who is just as strong emotionally as he is physically. It's refreshing to see a Shadowhunter that is so ridiculously layered. I feel as if throughout Clare's many novels, her characterization skills have grown and I find myself really intrigued by this group of characters, especially the multi-faceted Blackthorn family that I can't get enough of. They all stand apart, but I have an extreme fascination for Mark specifically. Then there's also the fact that Jules and Emma are parabatai, but also in love, so it's interesting to see her exploration of forbidden love despite it being a trope that Clare has explored before. She seems drawn to such things, and since she's implementing it in a new way, I'm curious to see what happens in book two.

My one frustration with this book is the villain. Dastardly and interesting, yes, but once everything was put together I had trouble believing that this entire crazy plot was put into effect for the reasons it was. Furthermore, we spend hundreds and hundreds of pages agonizing over this villain's identity and then suddenly--BOOM!--it clicks due to the smallest hint of a detail. It's just too conveniently timed, made a bit more inexcusable by the fact that I figured out who the villain was significantly earlier since it made absolutely no sense that it could be anyone else.

Bonus points for the little bonus chapter at the end throwing us back to everyone's favorite couple. So full of cliches, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't happy to re-visit some old friends.

All in all, this book is a-typical of Clare's style, but shows her growth as an author. Better characterization, lots of cliches, a villain that is simultaneously fascinating and lacking, murder, mayhem, forbidden love, many appearances by old characters, and lots of things going bump in the night. Clare's recipe for success gives us yet another new trilogy that I think readers will adore, and I am curious to see what will happen next.

3.75 stars

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