The Dark Artifices: Book One
Written by Cassandra Clare
Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Published March 8th 2016
Thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia
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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?
Together I and Kelly tackled the beast of a book that is Lady Midnight (no seriously, the paperback could probably be used as a doorstop) so I figured why not do a buddy review? Needless to say, I was never the hugest fan of Cassandra Clare. I read The Mortal Instruments way back in grade seven (like six years ago, give or take). It was when The Mortal Instruments was supposed to end with City of Glass. I'd forgotten about it until 2011 and to my shock I saw a fourth book on the shelves. I never ventured down that road. I read The Clockwork Angel and didn't go beyond book one.
So when I heard about Lady Midnight, I had my doubts I would EVER read this. I think it was initially boredom that coaxed me to get it and peek into the depths of a new Shadowhunter series.
Kelly, I know you had your own doubts. What initially made you want to read Lady Midnight?
I think it was mostly curiosity. I'd read five of The Mortal Instruments releases and couldn't finish book six due to so much filler. I'd read book one of The Infernal Devices and also tried reading The Magnus Bane Chronicles and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, but after the first three books in The Mortal Instruments, I lost interest and each book seemed to blur into the next. The same characters or versions thereof, it was the same storyline over and over and to be honest, when Lady Midnight was announced I groaned and thought, here we go again.
But I'm eating my words now. It was fucking incredible! Yes, it's still set in the world of Shadowhunters, but it had a completely different feel. Even not having fully finished any of her previous series, I had no problems fully immersing myself back into the Shadowhunting world.
Having not completed her previous series, did you have issues picking up the storyline?
Ha! You're not the only one. I too was one of those people who scoffed when I saw another Shadowhunter series coming out. I didn't think it showed promise, and quite honestly I thought it was going to be shit. I was so so wrong though. Despite claims that you MUST read all the Shadowhunter books before picking up Lady Midnight, I don't find that to be true. I've only read four books out all of the books Cassie's written, and I understood and followed along just fine.
To be fair I'm sure it would have been fun to get all the little nods towards the other series but no, I would say you'd only need a basic understanding of the past books in order to read Lady Midnight. If you don't want to read TMI, TID or SA beforehand just look up the basics so you understand the occasional appearance of characters from other series.
Kelly, what do you think was so different about Lady Midnight as compared to its sister series?
It honestly felt as though as it was written by an entirely different author. I feel Cassie Clare's books are aimed at a specific audience, young teens or readers who don't mind the usual young adult tropes. Either I was enjoying it too much to notice, but I found none of those aspects that Clare is usually known for. I was surprised by the warm, likable but most importantly, flawed characters. They weren't the usual ridiculously good looking beings that everyone wants to bed. In fact, I didn't feel the character aesthetics played any major role in their description either.
How did you feel about the Blackthorn clan, Emma and Christina?
Oh man, I loved them all. The characters were what made the story for me. Specifically the Blackthorn clan. I adored Emma and Christina though, they had this amazing chemistry and a much needed girl power bond going on. At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters we were dealing with as I do not do well with a huge cast. But I quickly found that Cassie had this way of making each person distinct so that they stood out. Without a doubt I'd have to say that Mark and Ty were my favorite out of the Blackthorn batch. Mark was the most hilarious character I have probably ever read, the scenes with him and his faerie folk speech made me ridiculously happy. I'm also so excited to see what goes on with Ty, I think he's going to a have a huge prevalence in the upcoming books.
Who out of all the characters was you favorite?
I loved Mark and couldn't agree more. His character had a lovable and naive charm, as though he'd lost all semblance of what era he was in. But for all the lighthearted moments he provided, I thought he was a well thought out and multilayered character who also introduced diversity into the storyline too, which pleasantly surprised me. Julian was absolutely lovely. Having taken on the role as a father figure to his younger siblings after his brother and sister were taken and banished. He carries around so much and it's made clear early on that he has feelings for Emma.
What did you think of the romances?
Honestly, at first I felt really uncomfortable with Julian. I didn't know what to think of him at first because of how he was acting. At first I thought he was a bit... Odd. But then we delved further into the book and I discovered that Julian and Emma have such an amazing chemistry. They've been friends for quite awhile - not to mention parabatai so I was intrigued to see how their relationship would go from that to lovers. Plus the fact that it's a forbidden romance really added a nice flare to it.
I think my favorite bit about the romance is that it's not all cut and dry. I can't begin to predict how this will turn out by the end of this series (I love having that unpredictableness. I am a complete Blackstairs shipper - is that the ship name?) Idk. I love them, I love their scenes and I cannot wait to experience the angst in the upcoming books.
Do you see Julian and Emma being endgame, or do you think that their relationship was doomed from the start?
I don't know actually. Knowing Cassandra Clare, she'll have the young couple fight to change the accords so they can be together but seeing that this feels so different from all her previous Shadowhunter books, I'm excited to find out whether she'll take the plunge and shake it up. I can hear fangirls shrieking as we speak.
What did you think of the writing?
I found the writing to be far different than my previous Cassandra Clare experiences. It almost didn't feel like her. I'm not a huge fan of Cassandra Clare or her previous books as I've mentioned and that was in part due to her writing. But Lady Midnight was above and beyond what I expected. I couldn't stop reading. Whatever Cassandra did this time around, she needs to keep doing it because the writing was engaging, kick ass and made me want more.
I know there's a lot of skeptics out there, so Kelly - why do you think people should take a chance on Lady Midnight?
Without causing offense, mainly because it's so different from all her previous Shadowhunter novels. The writing is crisp and the humour brings such a sense of fun throughout the storyline. The characters are all likable and well developed, which I must admit I was surprised. But most of all, it's because all her previous tropes seem to have been omitted. There is no gruff male love interest, no female damsel in distress and no instant romance between characters.
What do you think is the biggest difference is between Lady Midnight and her previous works?
It definitely has to be the characters for me. I was never a huge fan of Jace / Clary or even Tessa / Will / Jem. I'll be the black sheep and say that I found them to be sober and boring. I adored the way the characters in Lady Midnight were a breath of fresh air. There was humor, and just something entirely new this time around that snuffed out my previous dislike towards the Shadowhunter world. I think it's safe to say that Lady Midnight is probably Cassandra Clare's best work to date. For any of you who are unsure if you should read it, I highly encourage you to do so. It's unlike anything Cassie's done over and over in her past series.