Review: Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, Book 1)
Title: Lady Midnight
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: 8 March 2016
Format: E-Audio (Overdrive), paperback (owned)
Hours/Pages: 19 hours and 43 minutes/ 688 pages
Themes: Family, friendship, love, revenge, loss
Favorite Character: Mark Blackthorn
Memorable Quote: “You belong where you’re loved.”
Synopsis: It’s been five years since the Dark War took the lives of many Shadowhunters. Five years since the Blackthorn children lost their father to Sebastian Morgenstern, saw their sister Helen be exiled, and lost their brother Mark to the Wild Hunt. For Emma Carstairs, it’s been five years since her parents’ bodies were found, washed up from the sea and covered in strange markings. The Clave assured her that they died from Sebastian and his army, but even after five years, Emma isn’t so sure.
Now, Emma and her best friend Julian Blackthorn are parabatai. They patrol Los Angeles while also raising Julian’s four younger siblings, while his eccentric uncle works in the attic of the LA Institute.
But nothing is simple.
Bodies of humans and faeries start turning up with the same strange markings that covered Emma’s parents’ bodies. Emma sees a chance to avenge her parents’ deaths, while Julian finds that solving this mystery will allow Mark to come home – assuming they can figure everything out within two weeks.
As the Blackthorns and Emma find clues, old secrets begin to rise to the surface. Despite the firm stance of The Law has about parabatai, Emma and Jules find themselves seeing each other in a new way. Julian must confront the decisions he’s made and the secrets he has kept from his family. Emma must determine if she’s really ready to find out who killed her parents.
I’ll be the first to say that Cassandra Clare’s writing is hit or miss for me. I trudged through The Mortal Instruments series, yet I devoured The Infernal Devices. I’m pretty pleased to say that (so far), I’m enjoying The Dark Artifices just as much, if not more, than The Infernal Devices.
A lot happens in Lady Midnight, so it’s actually kind of difficult for me to review without spoilers. I actually have a major headache from trying to figure out what to say. This might not be my most coherent review, but I’ll give it my best shot.
First of all, Emma has a freakin’ murder board in her bedroom closet!
So, I read a few chapters of this book, but listened to the majority of it on audio. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the narration of Lady Midnight, and I think that’s some of the reason I enjoyed the story as much as I did.
Don’t get me wrong, the writing is really good, too. The bond the Blackthorn siblings have is absolutely fantastic and heart-warming. All of their scenes were filled with humor, heart, and so much genuine love. Even in times of frustration, it was easy to see how much the siblings cared for each other and how they really looked after one another – especially Julian and Livvy.
As for Emma, it was interesting to read more about a girl who was raised in the world of the Shadowhunters. Clary Fray and Tessa Gray were raised as mundanes, but Emma only knows what it means to be a Shadowhunter and what it means to survive. Yes, we see some of that with Isabelle Lightwood, but she only had a few chapters throughout The Mortal Instruments, while Emma gets the majority of Lady Midnight. As a character, I’d say Emma is pretty likable. She’s impulsive, determined, and cares fiercely for her friends. Unlike Clary, her actions have definite consequences and she does more growing in one book that Clary did in the entire TMI series (this is my opinion. I never liked Clary….or Jace).
Julian is also enjoyable. He’s a bit broken, tired, and always worried about his family, but I think his attitude is better than what I’ve seen in Clare’s earlier male protagonists, like Will (though I ended up loving him) and Jace. Jules had to grow up fast, as he was only 12 when he was left to raise his many siblings, so his actions and priorities are a bit different than that of other 17 year olds – even Shadowhunters, I suppose.
However, he and Emma do have a knack for mischief, humor, and sweet moments.
As for Emma and Julian (and the rest of the Blackthorns), it’s easy to see how the Clave fails them in so many ways. The Blackthorn family motto “a bad law is no law” is repeated a few times in the story and for good reason. While it’s frustrating to see how these children were brushed aside by the Clave, it was a rather realistic portrayal of how governments can be. Seeing how the Clave’s decisions impacted Emma and the Blackthorn kids was heartbreaking to say the least.
Meeting Mark Blackthorn again was great and sad. After riding with the Wild Hunt, he’s not the same boy from TMI. Mark struggles to fit in with his siblings, find his place, and figure out if he wants to stay with his siblings or go back to the Hunt.
Cristina is a great addition to the story. She’s down to Earth, thoughtful, and always seems to know how to handle the situations. She’s also guarded with her own past, and I hope she sticks around so I can learn more about her.
The rest of the Blackthorn kids have grown up quite a bit and are very lovable. Seeing Ty come into his own and his siblings understand him more was great.
The pacing of this book was much better than previous books and the writing is much more sophisticated, which is something I really appreciate. Clare’s plot-twists were awesome. I thought I had the mystery solved, but I was so wrong! The writing really kept me on my toes, and my jaw was on the ground when the killer was revealed. (Did you ever read The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater? She drops lots of hints about one of the characters, yet the plot twist still comes as a shock unless your reading was insanely careful and thoughtful…. Clare was very similar to that in this book). The killer has quite the motive that will send shivers down your spine. The way they carry out their plot is quite heinous, too. There’s quite a bit of murder in this book.
But also a lot of time spent in the library. So that’s cool!
So when the murderer was discovered and their plot was explained, I was like:
The ending wraps up nicely for this story, but it leaves a nice (brutal) cliffhanger into the next book, Lord of Shadows. I’m definitely going to read LoS soon, but I think I might need a lighter read because the past few books I’ve read have been a bit dark.
The only thing I didn’t love about Lady Midnight was the forbidden love theme….again. It’s just starting to feel overused, although I understand the appeal in the genre. At least we know Emma and Jules aren’t siblings….
Also, I’m hoping they go more in-depth about the Law regarding parabatai and love. I get it, but it was also explained quickly and it just needed more detail.
Finally, I have a ship but I think I’m getting my hopes a bit high…
Did you read Lady Midnight? What’d you think?
Let me know!