Modern Fantasy · Review · Young Adult

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare | Book Review

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare on a white background

Series: Shadowhunters Universe, The Dark Artifices, #1

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Pub. Date: 2016

Genres: Urban Fantasy, YA Romance

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I’ve tried time and time again to get into The Infernal Devices, the prequel trilogy to The Mortal Instruments series, but I haven’t been able to. So, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into Lady Midnight, the first in a different spin-off. I was pleasantly entranced by the setting and the characters of the novel.

I think what ultimately got me into wanting to try reading Lady Midnight was that I had finally visited Los Angeles, and I wanted to see what Cassandra Clare would do with that setting. While I’m not sure that I believe these Shadowhunters never get caught in L.A. traffic, the setting felt different from Clare’s New York City and Alicante.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about with Shadowhunters or The Mortal Instruments, here is a quick run down. Shadowhunters are half-angel, half-human defenders of humanity, and they regularly fight demons and Downworlders (half-demons, such as werewolves and faeries). Lady Midnight takes place several years after The Mortal Instruments series, which ended with the end of a war that tried to put Shadowhunters under demonic rule. Everyone lost someone. The two characters most focused on in this book lost family. Emma Carstairs lost her parents, and the Blackthorn children lost their parents and their eldest brother, who was stolen by the Wild Hunt, and sister, who was put in isolation by association. Emma and Julian have been raising each other and the rest of the Blackthorn children since.

This spin-off focuses on the kids who are high-school age now, and we experience several of their perspectives. Julian Blackthorn and Emma Carstairs are the main characters and pairing of the book. They took vows to become fighting partners for life and feel each other’s pain, but now they’re secretly in love with each other, which is verboten. Besides that, Julian has other secrets that could change how his family lives. Emma is also trying to hunt down the real reason behind her parents’ deaths. Christina is a Mexican Shadowhunter who is visiting the L.A. Institute as part of her career development as a Shadowhunter. I like the idea of new adult Shadowhunters visiting other Institutes, a headquarters of sorts for Shadowhunters, to learn more about what’s going on elsewhere. She was also a good friend and romantic interest.

I know that the vast majority of the book follows Emma and Julian, but Kit Rook and Mark Blackthorn stole the show. Kit didn’t really feature prominently in this book, and I was salty that it took hundreds of pages before we heard from him again after the prologue. The reason is that his perspective on Shadowhunters is negative, knowing what they are and having negative opinions about them as a Mundie (i.e. Mundane). He also grew up in the Downworlder black market and is loyal to his father.

Mark was far and away my favorite character in this novel. I have some nostalgia for him from The Mortal Instruments, but I really came to love this marshmallow when he reacted badly to runes and talked about his experiences in Faerie. He talks about it in such a magical way. One time he mentions that the only mirror he had was a person’s eyes, and that’s a clever mix of the fantasy element with romance. He is also very good with the children. For there being a love triangle where he is concerned, it actually felt natural and reasonable because it was split between a Shadowhunter and one of the faeries that understood him in the Wild Hunt.

Plot-wise, I think there’s a decent mystery and a lot of good conflict. I could have done without random, convenient romantic moments. They sometimes took over in a way that took away from the main mystery. I also loved the connection Annabel Lee. Lines of that poem are the chapter titles, and the poem is relevant to the plot.

I didn’t care for the ending as much because Cassandra Clare seems to favor having one specific trope in every one of her novels (at least the seven I’ve read). I understand why this set of characters are doing it, but I have read a lot of that trope.

I am not sure if it’s easy to understand what is happening with certain elements of the world building if you haven’t read the first three books of The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices. Otherwise, Lady Midnight is a very entertaining and fantastic addition to faerie books and the Shadowhunter universe. If you like love triangles and vigilante, paranormal heroes, you might enjoy this book.

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