Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare Book Review

Sunday, July 31, 2016


I'm pleased to finally be reviewing Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare, which is something that I've been meaning to do for quite some time. The reason that I delayed it so much is that I didn't want to rush my review or miss any important details. Now that the time is here, I hope that I'll be able to provide you with an informative and insightful review that inspires you to read this novel, without giving away any important details. 

I've been waiting for Lady Midnight to be released since I finished reading City of Heavenly Fire in 2014, so it's clear that this book has been highly anticipated for me. Already being such a huge Cassandra Clare fan, I had incredibly high expectations for her new series, the Dark Artifices, and hoped that it'd further my love of the shadowhunter world. I can confirm that I was right, as this is probably one of my favourite books by Cassie. It took me on an action-packed journey that filled me with every possible emotion, and so I was constantly eager to read on and find out more. 

About the Author 

Before I continue with my review of Lady Midnight, I'd like to include some information about the author. Cassandra Clare, a.k.a. Judith Rumelt, is an extremely popular author of young adult fantasy novels, particularly her The Mortal Instruments series, which has been adapted into both a popular film and TV show. She has written many books, the majority of which involve the presence of shadowhunters and other typical fantasy creatures, and has also collaborated with other authors such as Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan. Below is a list of Cassandra's other shadowhunter novels.


Plot Overview

Cassandra described the Dark Artifices as 'a noir-inspired romantic mystery' and I feel as though this sentence alone is perfect for showing the many aspects and themes included in this book. The main plot is like a detective story, and we follow the shadowhunters as they investigate a series of murders that began with Emma Carstairs' parents. However, alongside this, there is lots of adventure, with the inclusion of fighting demons and working alongside warlocks, romance and your typical fantasy elements, so there's definitely a lot to be expected from this novel!

The Characters

One thing that I'd like to note is that I love how each and every character is detailed and fleshed out, to an extent where everyone would need their own novel just to explore their life in more depth. I never once felt a sense of the main characters being developed whilst others were cardboard cutouts to create dimension, and everyone included had their own thoughts, ideas and motives. It's incredible how much planning and details go into each and every character, even those that only make a brief appearance in the middle of a chapter. 

Honestly, before reading this book I didn't know what to think about the new characters. We were first introduced to the Blackthorns and Emma in City of Heavenly Fire, with Julian only being 12 at the time, and so it was hard to see the potential in their characters when they were so young. With so many drastic events and plot-twists occurring in that novel, these children weren't at the forefront of my mind and I placed a larger focus on the familiar, main characters like Jace and Clary. Also, when I heard about Lady Midnight, I wasn't ready to let the Mortal Instruments characters go and still felt connected to them after 6 books, so I was reluctant to accept the newcomers to the shadowhunter world. Despite all of this, I'm glad that I still read Lady Midnight, as I've grown to absolutely love the new characters and definitely think that they bring a breath of fresh air to the series. I've summarised some of my thoughts about all of the main characters below.

Emma
Emma is a fierce and strong-willed leader, being incredibly headstrong and determined in everything she does, whether that's in her training classes or uncovering the truth about her parents. However, underneath this is a layer of vulnerability and at times we can really see her sensitive side, despite often putting on a brave front. I particularly love her more sarcastic and jokey side, but she's definitely a well-rounded character that is the perfect blend of being passionate, humorous and pained. I also like how Emma is a true shadowhunter, unlike Cassandra's previous female leads like Clary and Tessa, who were both new to this world. She has a shadowhunter family, friends, and has known her destiny all her life. This meant that she was much more certain and therefore persistent to reach her goals, and also enabled us to skip the entire 'introduction into the shadowhunter world' stage of the book.

Julian
Despite only being 17 years old, Julian has spent many years acting as a parent for all of his younger siblings, due to his father's death in the Dark War and the exile of his older siblings. He's very gentle and caring, which is probably due to having a role of responsibility, but it's clear from the start that his main priority is to hold his family together and fill them with love. Away from his family, we get to experience who Julian actually is: an aspiring artist. This was really enjoyable to read about, and it definitely made the character more rounded and realistic, opposed to one-dimensional. Throughout the novel, we learn about the multiple secrets that Julian has kept from everyone, as well as his little quirks and characteristics that make him a lovable and thoughtful person.

“A gentle boy with a gentle soul, but every soul contains its own opposite, and the opposite of gentleness was ruthlessness—the beautiful wreckage of mercy.”
Mark
I didn't know what to expect from Mark throughout the novel and I could never quite predict how he would react to a situation. I felt like his personality was torn in half, with part of him being born and bred a shadowhunter, yet the other being loyal to his faerie roots and the Wild Hunt. He was undeniably the most complex character in the book and I wasn't sure if I liked him at first, but by the end, I really sympathised with him and the deliberating experiences he had. It was also interesting to see how he was changed by the Wild Hunt and became more of an outsider in the shadowhunter community, despite growing up with them. There is definitely a heavy focus on faeries in this book, more than any of Cassandra's other novels, and so it was interesting to meet people such as Kieran, who are in some way similar to Mark yet in others the complete opposite.

The Blackthorn children
I'll be honest, I struggled to keep track of all the different children when I started to read the novel and I was often confused as to who was who, especially with all the characters having nicknames that added to my uncertainty. However, once I became clear of the different Blackthorn children, I really grew to love them and the novel was written in a way that evoked feelings of care and sympathy like they are your own siblings. First, we have Ty and Livvy, who are twins that are virtually inseparable and protective of each other. It was fascinating to see how, despite being loyal and trusting in the entire family, it was only their twin that they could truly be at one with. As a twin myself, I loved seeing these scenes and comparing it to the relationship I have with my brother. We also have Drusilla, who is the perfect example of proving that it's okay to be a different shape and size to others and that looking different is to be embraced. Tavvy, the youngest, shown us that despite being an infant for the story, he was an integral part of the investigation and was needed throughout. I loved seeing all of the little quirks and mannerisms of the children and found it especially delightful to see their love for one another on display.

Cristina
The final character that I'll be mentioning is Cristina, who isn't a member of the Blackthorn family yet she definitely deserved to be written about. She is Emma's best friend, which was a nice touch to begin with, as the female leads in Cassandra's other books don't tend to have close female friends. Clary and Isabelle, for example, took quite some time to like each other, and Tessa and Jessamine's relationship was far from a friendship. I love how the two characters accompany and compliment one another really well, and it was great to see some mundane moments between them during all of the drama and chaos. Christina is definitely fierce and outgoing, but my only hope is that we get to learn more about her in the next book, as her character has a lot of potential and possibilities to explore.



What I Liked


Something that I thoroughly enjoyed about Lady Midnight was that we were able to jump straight into the story, without having to worry about recapping the basics of the shadow world and shadowhunters in general. With Emma Carstairs being brought up in a shadowhunter family, there was no need to teach her anything new about her world and therefore we could dive into the more complex and undiscovered parts of the world. Also, by this point, most of the readers are aware of the world in which Cassie's books are set, and so it was unnecessary to re-explain it to them. I also find that Lady Midnight is written in a way that means you could read it as a standalone book and not have read any of the companion series', as it's easy to follow and everything you need to know is explained without prior knowledge needed. However, if you have read the other books then you'll definitely have a deeper understanding of the events, families and how everything relates to one another. It's almost as if there is another layer to the stories, with many little nods and references to the other books being apparent, whereas you'd otherwise miss them.

I also loved how this book explored other areas of the world that we were otherwise unfamiliar with, and it really developed the lore and mythology that we'd previously seen in the other books. An example of this is how we saw a lot more magic in use, and we also learned about dark magic, which we didn't get to see much about in the other books. We also saw a lot more of the Fey, as faeries played a huge part in the plot and it was therefore important to develop on them. In previous books, we only really saw the Seelie Court, but in Lady Midnight many new aspects were introduced, such as the Wild Hunt, the Unseelie Court and the Cold Peace, which really helped to understand the book and was also very interesting.

What I'd Change

I like to talk about what I'd change in all of my book reviews, as no book can ever be perfect and there are always improvements to be made. However, I really struggled to find changes to make to Lady Midnight, and to me, it was very close to being perfect. One thing that I did find, however, was that the pace could be quite slow at times, especially at the start when the plot hadn't really begun yet. Despite this, as soon as the book gathered pace, I found that it raced by and I honestly couldn't put it down.

Themes

Arguably the main theme of Lady Midnight is love, yet don't let this fool you into thinking that it's just another romantic love story. Both philia and agape are explored throughout, whether it's through the love between friends, family, parabatai or more lustful relationships. You can definitely get a sense for this as you read the book and the love that is shown varies tremendously depending on the characters and circumstances. I really liked the inclusion of these different types of love, as most YA books tend to just focus on a romantic relationship and nothing else.

If you know Cassandra Clare, you'll understand that she loves a good forbidden love and will include one whenever it's possible. Well, Lady Midnight is no exception, with the two main characters starting to slowly fall in love with one another, despite the law not allowing it. (This is not a spoiler, as it's been on Cassandra's website for a long time and it's included in the blurb of the book). The relationship between parabatai is definitely a unique one and we saw in previous books that it was something special, so I was thrilled to see how it was explored further. The relationship between these two characters is definitely complicated and there's a lot stacked against them, but it's definitely great to see how it progresses throughout the book and it definitely isn't your conventional love story.

“You'll fix me, because we're parabatai. We're forever.”

The Dark Artifices also deals with non-conventional shadowhunters, such as neuroatypical and LGBT+ characters, which is definitely different from most other YA books that don't include these people, despite them being very common in our world. I think that the inclusion of such characters really sends out a positive message to all of Cassandra's fans and these people definitely play an important role in the books.

One of the characters that we see who fits this description is Ty, who has an autism spectrum disorder. It was really interesting to see his view on the events and the shadow world in general, and I loved how Cassandra went against the norm and included such a character, which is especially unusual for a fantasy novel. When asked about Ty, Cassie said: 


“I wanted to make it clear that he was just as intelligent and skilled, and just as worthy and capable of love, respect and admiration as his neurotypical peers, when he is struggling and when he is not, and I hope you will like him.”


The Writing

It's clear from this novel that Cassandra's writing skills have immensely improved, and she's transformed from an amazing writer to an absolutely phenomenal one. Everything from her character development to her world building has developed and became much more detailed, and I'm proud to say that I've witnessed this change from when she wrote City of Bones to now. There's no denying that she's a talented author and I love how she has the ability to make me laugh hysterically, feel warm and fuzzy inside, and uncontrollably cry all in the same chapter. If you'd like to see an example of Cassandra's writing, I've included the first page below, which will also hopefully persuade you to try this book!


Overall, Lady Midnight is a truly beautiful book which will grab you at the very start and enthral you throughout. I honestly loved every single second of it and couldn't put it down, always eager to find out what happened next. I'd highly recommend reading the Mortal Instruments series before this one, as Lady Midnight directly leads on from where this one ended, and reading the Infernal Devices series will also provide you with some extra knowledge of shadowhunters and the different families. I honestly couldn't recommend this book and I'd urge you read it, as I can guarantee it has something for everyone. If you'd like to buy this book then you can do so here!

Thank you so much for reading this post and hopefully, you enjoyed it. I'd love to know what book you want me to review next, so make sure you let me know down in the comments.

Love from Daisy x

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