In an unexpected plot twist, I actually ended up loving this book!
Name: Lady Midnight
Author: Cassandra Clare
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…
Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.
Cassandra Clare is incredibly good at the found family trope, witty one liners… and writing ridiculously long books!
Lady Midnight is 700 pages long. I could maybe exuse the length if it was the finale of a series, but as the first book? However, I’m being forced to read the next two books because the characters have stolen my heart and will only give it back if I pay buckets of money for the sequels, but I’ve heard that the sequels are also super long.
However, despite the length, I flew through Lady Midnight. I never thought I’d describe a 700 page book as a sort of ‘guilty pleasure’, but honestly; the drama! The gossip! The relationships! I always feel that Cassandra Clare books consider themselves quite high with the biblical references, and complicated lore… but they’re really just teenagers being dramatic and fighting demons at the weekend. Lady Midnight is packed full of action, with really strong main characters to pull you through the few moments of peace.
Strong main character no.1: Julian. While at first I was worried he’d be a copy paste Jem/Jace bad boy, Julian felt like an empathetic, really likeable love interest…with enough bad boy energy for the fangirls. He had to raise his siblings himself, and I’m ridiculously invested in his relationship with them all. His struggles bring real depth to his character and I found myself reading on to catch a scene with him and his siblings.
Ahhh Julian’s siblings! Cassandra Clare has mastered the found family trope, and manages to juggle an engaging mystery and romance whilst fleshing out all of the (many) Blackthorn siblings. While they’re a little contrived in places, I love Ty’s neurodivergent storyline and Dru’s struggle with Shadowhunter beauty standards. I really enjoyed seeing the (already immense) Shadowhunter world expand again.
Ty’s thoughts, his beautiful, curious mind, were not like everyone else’s. Julian had heard stories— whispers, really—of other Shadowhunter children who thought or felt differently. Who had trouble focusing. Who claimed letters rearranged themselves on the page when they tried to read them. Who fell prey to dark sadnesses that seemed to have no reason, or fits of energy they couldn’t control.
Whispers were all there were, though, because the Clave hated to admit that Nephilim like that existed. There were no words to describe Shadowhunters whose minds were shaped differently, no real words to describe differences at all.– LADY MIDNIGHT, CASSANDRA CLARE
There’s another Blackthorn sibling who deserves my love: Mark! He’s a half fey estranged brother that The Mortal Instruments series loosely followed and one of my new favourite characters. Bittersweet and a little wild, he’s the strongest character I’ve read in a while. There were a few other characters I recognised from previously books and if you’re an avid CC fan, you’ll be very excited by the return of some of them.
Mark set his jaw. He had never looked more like a Blackthorn. “If there is one thing I have learned in my life, and I grant I have not learned much, it is this: Neither Fair Folk nor mortals know what love is or is not. No one does.”
Last but not least, I really liked Emma too. With a strong sense of self, she was funny and not deterred by gore (which dear reader, you will also need to get through this book). Julian and Emma were inevitable, and I’m intruiged by the dangers that come from them being parabatai but they were so INTENSE. They went from 0 to 100 in a second (although that wasn’t a bad first kiss for Julian…). I don’t understand how clumsy some of Julian and Emma’s big moments or relationship were when other characters are so nuanced.
I thought I wouldn’t like Lady Midnight. I haven’t particularly enjoyed Cassandra Clare’s earlier books, so it was a welcome suprise to have it be… actually amazing! It’s such a unique position to be able to see how her writing has improved over the course of nearly two decades. Lady Midnight feels like a much more refined writing style than first books in the Mortal Instruments series. Although one similarity – the plot twists were sooo gooood in both. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!
Maybe this is a lesson: don’t give up on an author too soon! Give them a second chance, see if they’re worth the hype surrounding them. Because Lady Midnight was certainly worth the hype!