Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Fantasy
Cassandra Clare is by far my favorite young adult writer. Her Shadowhunters novels are all phenomenal, so of course I had very high expectations of Lady Midnight, the first of the Dark Artifices trilogy. Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed at the rather slow start of the novel. There were very early hints that a forbidden romance would evolve between the parabatai, but other than that, it felt like the overall arch of the story-investigating the murder of Emma’s parents and their connection to recent murders-took awhile to become interesting.
Lady Midnight has many characters that are kind of hard to keep track of, but the main two are Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn, who readers have met five years previously in the events of City of Heavenly Fire. Emma is able to live with Julian and his family at the Los Angeles Institute, but only because they are parabatai, bonded together by a sacred ritual to be stronger for and with each other. It is forbidden to fall in love with one’s own parabatai, though, the reason for which is explained at the end of the novel.
We also have young Tavvy, Drusilla, teenage twins Ty and Livvy, and the return of Mark Blackthorn from the Wild Hunt. With the Cold Peace in effect, it is forbidden to associate with the fair folk due to their alliance with Sebastian Morgenstern and their involvement in the Dark War. The fairies come to the Los Angeles Institute offering to trade Mark for the Shadowhunter’s aide in the recent murders, because most of the murders have been fairies used as sacrifices in some kind of dark magic. The investigation takes awhile to take shape, but once the Shadowhunter’s get a lead, the novel is very fast-paced and once again becomes one of Clare’s signature pieces that is hard to put down.
One of the unique things about the novel is that every chapter name is words or lines from Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “Annabelle Lee.” This is a big point on the novel because the clues about the murders come early in this novel, clues from the poem. Why all these murders and why are they all on ley lines (places of great energy)? Because someone is trying to bring back the dead.
There is also Christina, using her travel year from an institute in Mexico to visit the Los Angeles Institute. Christina becomes a great ally to the murder investigation, and builds a growing friendship with Emma. There are also some reoccurring characters from the previous novels, which is always exciting to see.
Aside from the investigation of these murders and the attempt to stop necromancy, there are so many other things going on in this novel. I have already mentioned the forbidden love, but with Mark’s return, feelings between friends and family are convoluted. The fair folk are more involved than they say they are. Perfect Diego comes to investigate the murders and tell Christina about his feelings. And then there’s Julian, who has been taking care of his family since they relocated to the L.A. Institute, who has been hiding his uncle’s illness from the Clave and his family, responding to all official things himself, and getting medicine from the High Warlock of Los Angeles-Malcom Fade-when the head of the institute must meet in person and not have convoluted thoughts and voices in his head.
On top of daily life, things get crazy when they do find a lead on the murders, going to a strange night club of all mundanes who have some kind of Downworlder blood in them, all who have the sight, and all who are under the influence of the Guardian, the person suspected of necromancy.
After the slow start, this book is fast, exciting, and well worth the read. I can’t wait for the next one, which should be coming out in 2017. Also coming out in 2017 is the first novel of yet ANOTHER Shadowhunters series set in the Downton Abbey era featuring Tessa’s kids from The Infernal Devices series. Be prepared to involve yourself with many more characters that we, as readers, are attached and drawn to. How will Emma and Julian overcome the curse of parabatai love? Will they overcome the curse? Cassandra Clare has never disappointed so far, and her books are well worth the investment.
This image is found on the back of the dust jacket for the special edition of Lady Midnight, but the image does not have the names. I found this and found it very helpful when I was trying to get all the Blackthorns organized in my head!