Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead-Should You Read It?

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

This is the third installment in Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series following The Sword of Summer and The Hammer of Thor. Once again, Riordan does a splendid job of integrating diverse characters and comedy to bring Magnus’s adventure to life.

Now that Loki is free, Magnus and his friends, both dead and living, must stop the Ship of the Dead from sailing, or Ragnarok will soon follow. To prevent Loki from releasing the ship from it’s icy hold on the one day of the year that it is warm enough for the ice to melt, Magnus is gifted a big, yellow viking ship from his father, Frey. With this ship, which can conveniently transform into a spiffy yellow bandanna when not in use, takes Magnus and his companions across the borders or the nine worlds to stop Loki. Let’s not forget, the boat has been named thus: The Big Banana.

Along the way, Magnus, Samirah, Hearthstone, Blitzen, Alex, Halfborn, Mallory, and T.J. all face a number of trials that effect reaching their goals to prevent Ragnarock, as well as effecting many of them on some personal level. During the entire journey, Samirah is participating in Ramadan, a pert of her culture that forces her to fast, to not eat, until after sunset. Even though she does not eat or drink during the day, she powers through the quest with her friends with a headstrong attitude. The crew is taken by the sea god’s nine daughters and are aiming to find a special mead so that Magnus can defeat Loki in a flyting to capture him. Magnus, T.J., and Alex find themselves having to face a stone giant-T.J. fighting the giant while Alex makes a stone warrior to fight one made by the giant. Hearth and Blitz assist Magnus in defeating Hearth’s father, who has now turned into a hideous dragon because of his greed and the magical ring that he chose to wear, Halfborn and Mallory have broken up, and the tension between the two is high. Mallory finds out who her mother is. More giants….

Throughout, Magnus learns more and more about his friends, but especially about Alex as they both go on the most adventures together. Magnus feels at ease with Alex at his side (whether Alex is male or female doe not matter to him) as they search for a clue in his uncle’s mansion, create a ceramic soldier together, suffer the freezing cold to near-death, and bring Loki down together. Their relationship is one of the most interesting aspects of the novel, and the two trying to figure out how they feel about each other is one of the driving aspects that has me itching for the next novel.

One of the things I continue to praise about Riordan is his incorporation of multiple types of diversity into his novels, and Magnus Chase by far has the best types of diversity to expose young readers to including racial/religious diversity (Samira is Middle Eastern), gender diversity (Alex is gender fluid), and disability diversity (Hearth is deaf). These are all excellent characters that show not everyone needs to be perfect, that everyone should be who they are and who they want to be. The Norse gods are ever interesting in how Riordan incorporates the lore, and the next adventures should be exciting for Magnus (and us readers, of course), so if you have not picked this series up, I would say yes, you should read it. The humor is a nice tough to the reading; you know it is a good book if it can coax an actual, audible laugh out of the reader!

Some fun things:

The Costco edition comes with a neat little poster: Image result for magnus chase costco poster

The Barnes and Noble edition comes with a Norse insult generator:Image result for magnus chase barnes and noble insult generator

The Walmart edition comes with a neat bookmark (Hearthstone?):Magnus Chase - Ship of the Dead - Bookmark

The Target edition comes with a make your own viking longship pull-out craft:Magnus Chase - Ship of the Dead - Viking Longboat Diagram

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The Last Namsara-Should You Read It?

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5

I was lucky enough to meet Kristen Ciccarelli at an Epic Reads author meet up where she shared about and signed her debut novel The Last Namsara. How Ciccarelli describes this book is like How to Train Your Dragon meets Game of Thrones, a very interesting combination of ideas, to be sure. Is this description accurate? Kind of. I had many flashback to Christopher Paolini’s Eragon from the Inheritance Cycle.

This contains some SPOILERS and many instances in later plot, so read with caution.

This novel features the daughter of the dragon king, Asha, who has burn scars from the First Dragon, Kozu, when he wreaked havoc across Firgaard when she was only eight years old. It was Asha’s fault that the dragon came, for she was telling the Old Stories, and stories draw dragons. Asha becomes labeled with the title of Iskari after one of the goddesses of the world lore, a bringer of death. To make amends for her bringing Kozu to Firgaard, Asha must now hunt dragons and bring their heads back to her father, the dragon king.

When one of the heroes of her world, a Namsara of the past visits bearing gifts from the Old One, a deity that the realm once believed in, Asha begins to question her purpose as the Iskari. Asha receives a set of slayers, a dragon, and fireskin (she cannot be burned), she realizes that the war waging within the world around her and within the walls of her own city has been long-deep, going farther back that Asha understands.

Betrothed to a total ass, Jarek, Asha’s father explains that is she kills Kozu, the Old Stories will vanish with the death of the first dragon, and her engagement will be off. Little does she know that Jarek and the king have been working together since Asha was burned all those years ago. With the gifts from the Old one and the help of a skral (slave), Asha finds a new meaning to her life and understands that her father is the one who must die, not Kozu. When Asha tells the old stories to draw out the dragons, the dragons, in return, share their own stories, images from what they know of history. Once, dragons and people used to live and work together, but someone betrayed the dragons, even though society thought it was the other way around.

With epic fight scenes and battles, forbidden romance, and dragon magic, this story is fast-paced, exciting, and an all around fantastic debut novel. While I feel that I gave quite a bit of information on the story plot, there is such a vast amount that I have barely scraped the surface of. One of the unique elements to this book is that the stories being told actually get their own pages, as if reading from an ancient book of stories, making it fun and easy to reflect back on the stories as a reader if I want to read one or two of them again just to reiterate the lore or history of the world as I am reading.

The only reason this is a 4.5/5 and not a 5/5 is that it was actually hard to get into at first. The development of the world and understanding the history came at a methodically progressive pace, not too fast and not too slow, but many of the ideas being presented were a bit convoluted and hard to grasp at first. I also had some major expectations about dragon riders for this novel wondering, “Is this going to be the next Eragon?” and it just felt like it took way too long for Asha to ride a dragon and share a link with the dragon. I really like the dragons as characters and think that they could have been developed even further as intellectual beings.

Overall, a fantastic debut novel that I would suggest to any fantasy fan and am already spreading the word to every reader I know about what a great and quick read this novel is, a great edition to any bookshelf.

Some official art from Cicarelli’s website:

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Kozu, the First Dragon. With his death, so too shall the Old Stories die.

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Namsara brings laughter and love; Iskari brings destruction and death.

On another note, Ciccarelli claims there will be at least one (maybe more?) novel in the series, but will feature other events going on in the world, for Asha’s story is over (even though her story is just beginning)!

The Midnight Star-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

This is the third and final installment to The Young Elites (trilogy). While this book was enjoyable, it was not quite up to par with the first or second book in the series. Having read all of Marie Lu’s other books, including Warcross and the Legend Trilogy, I have very high expectations of her work.

This book starts strong a few months after where the second one left off. Adelina is now a conqueror, the White Wolf. She continues to conquer various nations, her cruelty growing. Her reign and ties with the daggers make being enemies tough but necessary. When planning to conquer the Daggers country of dwelling, where her sister has been rumored to be, Adelina receives some strange news and is unsure of how to approach the situation: Raffaele sends a letter telling Adelina that her sister, Violetta, is dying. Adelina takes this as some kind of trap, that Raffaele and the Daggers are holding Violetta hostage, and Adelina takes her Roses into battle against the daggers. With Adelina’s growing violence, some of her own turn against her.

Being captured by the Daggers, Adelina sees first-hand how her sister really is dying, how the Young Elites are dying, being poisoned by their own powers. A Pathway to the Underworld has opened up, the place of origin for the elite powers, and it is poisoning the Young Elites and their entire planet.

Now the Daggers and the Roses must band together and head to the realm of Moritas, the realm of death, and close the opened seam between worlds. As Raffaele says, the elites are to “be forever young,” because their powers were never meant to be leaked into their world. Now they must give their powers back to save themselves and their world. When the Daggers and the Roses come face-to-face with a number of gods and goddesses, those who have bestowed the elites their powers and give them their special alignments, they must find out what it means to truly have power through sacrifice.

Adelina, so immersed in her power, plans to give it up just like the other elites, but when her sister does not make it to the realm of the Dead, not alive anyway, Adelina nearly loses her mind.

*****SPOILERS*****

The end is interesting, frustrating, and awing all at the same time. To save Violetta from the Underworld, Adelina gives her life so that her sister may have more time, even though that also means leaving her lover, Magiano. Violetta realizes this sacrifice almost too late, but she makes her own deal with her goddess as well. Adelina becomes a star, a special star that shines to earth every night at midnight, like a similar legend in the world lore of The Young Elites: 

“If you are very quiet and do not look away, you may see the brightest star in the constellation glow steadily brighter. It brightens until it overwhelms every other star in the sky, brightens until it seems to touch the ground, and then the glow is gone, and in its place is a girl.
Her hair and lashes are painted a shifting silver, and a scar crosses one side of her face. She is dressed in Sealand silk and a necklace of sapphire . Some say that, once upon a time, she had a prince, a father, a society of friends. Others say that she was once a wicked queen ,a worker of illusions, a girl who brought darkness across the lands. Stilll others say that she once had a sister, and that she loved her dearly. Perhaps all of these are true.
She walks to the boy, tilts her head up at him, and smiles. He bends down to kiss her. Then he helps her onto the horse, and she rides away with him to a faraway place, until they can no longer be seen.
These are only rumour,of course, and make little more than a story to tell round a fire. But it is told. And thus they live on.
-“The Midnight Star”, a foltale”
― Marie LuThe Midnight Star (Goodreads Quotes)

While the folklore of the story was an interesting element, it took away from the realism that had me immersed in the series as a reader. While magic powers are of the fantastic realm, the world itself felt very real…until the Underworld was introduced as a real place that the Elites would go to and the gods and goddesses are real beings in the world. This just took a bit too much away from the story for me in a way that actually made this the only book by Marie Lu that I can say I am not quite satisfied with. I did not say I didn’t like it, because I did, but it was just not quite on par with her other novels.

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2)-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

This is the second book in the series, following The Lost Hero. It takes place simultaneously with the first one, but features different characters at a demi-god camp all the way across the country from Camp Half-Blood.

While the first book introduced some new characters to the series (Jason, Piper, and Leo), this book brings back our original hero, Percy Jackson, with a few new friends in tow (Hazel and Frank) as well as the return of old friends (Tyson!).

When Percy, like Jason in the previous novel, awakens across the country having lost his memory, is being chased by monsters. With the guidance of Lupa, the Roman wolf-goddess (rather than a Greek goddess), Percy finds his way to the California equivalent of camp Half-Blood, Camp Jupiter. Upon arrival to the new camp, Percy is attacked by even more monsters, Gorgons this time, and a lone woman is in danger. Using his power over water to create a whirlpool gains him the woman’s favor, but catches one of the guards (Frank) within. The brave hero that Percy is, saving the woman turns out to be a good thing, considering the damsel in distress is the Roman goddess Juno (the Greek goddess Hera).

With Juno’s approval, the son of Neptune, is welcome into the Roman camp, even though he is looked upon in a negative light for being a Greek demi-god. Despite the gods being the same gods in Greece and Rome even though they have different names, they are at war. Percy, having no memories, is told by Juno that he does have a chance at regaining his memories, but only if he can learn to be a hero again and survive the new challenges that will present themselves to him at Camp Jupiter.

Frank and Hazel, the guards who witnessed Percy fight the Gorgons, become fast friends of Percy. Routines and leadership are different than his own home camp, but with no memories, Percy would have nothing to complain of anyway.  As the camp misfits, the three become more than just good friends. When Frank’s father, Mars, tells the children of a prophecy, the three must set out as heroes to Alaska, free the god Thanatos within a certain amount of time, or die. Of course, the trio finds that freeing the god is a more viable option.

Along the way, the trio stops in Portlans, Oregon, where they can find the location on the giant in Alaska from the blind seer, Phineas. When he tells them to chase a harpy with red feathers and bring her back, they meet Ella, a pretty intelligent harpy who can memorize anything she reads, and ends up being rather a unique asset to the group later one. 

Rescuing Thanatos involves fighting the giant, Alcyoneus, in Alaska. The goddess, Gaea, is awakening from quite a long slumber, and she has some major plans to destroy the gods, along with the known world. With the defeat of one of Gaea’s seven giants, Hazel and Frank become true heroes, finding their own unique abilities.

When Camp Jupiter is under attack, the trio rushes back to California to save the camp. Hazel expresses her feelings for Frank, while Percy remembers Annabeth, and he knows they are coming, for seven heroes will save the world from Gaea. When a great flying ship called the Argo II arrives with Annabeth, among some of our heroes from the previous book, Percy and his demi-god heroes set out to save the gods, and the world, from destruction.

One of the things that I really enjoy about Riordan’s books is the diversity of the characters. In this particular novel, we are introduced to Hazel, who is of African descent, and Frank, who is of Chinese descent (rather than having a book with a bunch of Caucasians). He also goes into some interesting cultural aspects with their own heritage and how that heritage ties into their relation to the Roman gods.

All-in-all I enjoyed this book more than the first one, but I think that is because Percy, our hero from the previous series, has finally returned. One of the fun things about reading this is that Percy does not remember who he is, but we, the reader, do remember his adventures from when he was first taken to Camp Half-Blood, which makes it all the more exciting to see when and how he will remember, all while making new memories and facing new challenges. I think this book is worth the read (especially for a middle-grade audience) and has a lot of potential for the books that follow.

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5

This is the second book in the Shades of Magic trilogy, following A Darker Shade of Magic. I previously spoke highly of the first novel, and saying that, this one is even better! The unique and quirky characters are back, with some new characters entering the fray. This novel is better paced than the first, a heart-pounding adventure leading into an exciting magic tournament.

Lila and Kell are no longer partners in crime, but they sure are busy with their lives. Lila, using her crafty methods, finds herself aboard a ship with a captain who has a connection to the royal family. Alucard, captain of the Night Spire, not only enjoys blundering pirate ships with Lila’s help, but finds her company and potential affinity for magic to be interesting and fun as well.

Meanwhile, Kell is busy keeping Rhy out of trouble. The prince tends to enjoy going out for a drink and the occasional tryst, and thanks to their life/death bond, Kell can feel what Rhy feels, and is the best protection the prince can have. Despite this, the country seems to be wary of Kell, thinking that he was somehow the one responsible for the tragic and devastatingly dangerous events four months ago. Because of their bond, Rhy can tell that Kell needs to use his magic, to blow off steam, so Rhy enlists Kell into the Essen Tasch under the guise of the name Kamerov Loste. If Kell, an Antari, were found competing in the Magic Tournament, he would disgrace his country and possibly face execution by the king.

The Essen Tasch is a tournament where magic users from the three main neighboring countries come together to demonstrate their skill and is used as a bonding scheme for the three countries that already have some growing tensions between them. Kell must choose only one or two elements to use, rather than all five, because triads (users of three elements) are already extremely rare.

When Lila finds out that Alucard will be going back to London for the magic tournament, Lila knows inherently that she must somehow enter as well. Since all the competitors wear masks, it is a matter of displacing someone in order to take their place in the tournament. After moving the ocean, Lila knows she is powerful, and she finds that she may be even more powerful than she first thought. She continues to use her power despite the risk of it destroying her from the inside.

Reunited, both Kell and Lila find each other as a huge surprise in the tournament, not to mention the minor detail that Rhy and Alucard were once (are still?) lovers!

While all this is going on, Holland finds himself awake and free in Black London, where he meets a dark being of magic. This magical being offers to give Holland his freedom if he can give another Antari to him as a host body, and of course, Holland plans to offer up Kell for his own freedom.

Vastly more exciting and enjoyable than the first novel, this book was fast-paced and fun. Getting to learn more about Lila as a character and seeing her magic develop was an enriching quality, and the tournament itself offered the same kind of excitement you see in fighting tournaments across the various media types, but with a risk. The reader reads in anticipation, wondering when Kell and Lila will cross paths again and if Kell will be found out in the tournament. The twists and turns that the characters must take to keep stable is ever-enticing. Now with Kell being sought out by Holland, readers greatly anticipate reading the next book. If you couldn’t get into the first novel, try again, because it is worth it to get to this excellently crafted second book of the series!

Highlight: Short Stories From Hogwarts

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

So far, these three short stories are e-book exclusives ($2.99 each on Amazon).

The three short collections have a basic theme within the collection and add just a bit extra to the world of Harry Potter.

Individual Rating: 4/5

Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies has four chapters with a total of 7 short works therein.

  • “Minerva McGonagall” is a more extensive piece (compared to the rest within the series of short stories) and features her parentage, childhood, schooling, and placement at Hogwarts. Some detail going into Animagi’s, which leads into the next short. We also learn about her love life and marriage.
  • “Animagi” goes into minor detail about what Animagi are and what restrictions there are to registering. It also details the (complicated) steps in becoming an Animagus and the misfortune of having to start over if you mess up.
  • “Remus Lupin” is the second major piece in this set or stories (with McGonagall being the first). It depicts Remus’s childhood and how he became a werewolf, what his parents thought of his lycanthropy, and his acceptance to Hogwarts when Dumbledore offers a solution. It also details his first and second time in the Order of the Phoenix, his marriage to Tonks, and his worry about passing on lycanthropy to the child. We also revisit his death, which is hard for us as well as Rowling. Rowling discusses Remus’s metaphor to incurable (but manageable) diseases today, as well as his patronus and feelings towards wolves that we never get to see in the novels.
  • “Werewolves” branches off of Lupin’s story and talks about their worldwide mythos. The history of werewolf registration and discrimination is discussed here, as well as the Ministry of Magic’s policies and how they have changed for werewolves over time.
  • “Sybill Trelawney” has a very vague depiction of how she came to be at Hogwarts as well as her character in opposition to the traits of McGonagall. She does not spend much time with the other teachers, but is descended from a great prophetess, which she tends to use to her advantage. Rowling reflects on the origins of Trelawney’s name, as well as mentioning that she is a character who Rowling has not developed a full background for, unlike many of her other characters.
  • “Naming Seers” briefly describes how wizarding families used to have their children named based on their future readings. If they will do great things, they must have a great name.
  • “Silvanus Kettleburn” is a very short piece, but discusses his enthusiasm as the previous Care of Magical Creatures teacher before Hagrid, as well as his (extremely) minor involvement in the Wizarding War.

Individual Rating: 3/5

Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists has five chapters with a total of nine short works therein.

  • “Dolores Umbridge” gives some background to the character including her family, jobs, and interests. Rather than a story, it is more like a background profile (no dialogue or added story elements). The end of this part features commentary by J.K. Rowling and her inspirations for the character as well as name origins and meanings.
  • “Ministers for Magic” is more of a timeline than a story, featuring the origins of the Ministry and dating all Ministers for Magic from the origin, their length in office, and the reasons for their falling out of office. These reasons add a small historical element to the events of the Wizarding World.
  • “Azkaban” tells us the origins of the prison as well as the only times anyone has escaped. Rowling also shares her ideas about the prison and where the name came from.
  • “Horace Slughorn” features the early life of Slughorn and how he was a teacher to Voldemort. Slughorn, at times, has felt guilty for teaching Voldemort how to make the Horcruxes, but still finds his pupil astounding. He also has interests in other students of merit, such as Harry and Neville. Rowling talks about the name origins and inspirations for the character.
  • “Potions” briefly discusses some of the merits of using potions and that sometimes using a potion is the only way to accomplish a task, since there may not be a spell counterpart. Rowling highlights her inspiration and connection to potions in relation to doing chemistry in school.
  • “Polyjuice Potion” is a specific potion that can change ones appearance depending on the potency.  It is a potion that requires a lot of skill and hard-to-find ingredients. Rowling discusses how carefully thought out the specific ingredients are for the potion that relate to what the potion is meant to do.
  • “Cauldrons” are a widely known and widely used item by many cultures, and it makes sense for witches and wizards to have cauldrons even at a portable level.
  • “Quirinus Quirrel” was an interesting short highlighting a bit about his character and school life. Rowling shares thoughts about his name origins and how they relate to some of his more noticeable traits, such as fidgeting and stuttering.
  • “Peeves the Poltergeist” highlights the history of Peeves and his haunting’s. It mentions the type of people he tends to enjoy being around, and his ghostly enemy, the Bloody Baron. The differences between poltergeists and ghosts is also discussed.

Individual Rating: 4/5

Hogwarts: An Incomplete Unreliable Guide has six chapters with 19 short works therein.

  • “The Journey to Hogwarts: Platform 9 3/4” features the short stories “King’s Cross Station,” “Platform Nine and Three-Quarters,” and “The Hogwarts Express.” These short stories feature the history and contemporary means of traveling to Hogwarts. Rowling shares her thoughts and ideas for these things based on the real King’s Cross Station in London and where further inspirations came from.
  • “The Sorting Hat” features the short stories “”The Sorting Hat” and “Hatstall.” It explains the origin and history of the Sorting Hat and the rare event of Hatstall, where the Sorting Hat may take an unusually long time to place someone in a house. We learn about some of the Hatstall students as well as Rowling’s thoughts and ideas for sorting before the Sorting Hat became the final way to sort students.
  • “The Castle and Grounds” features the short stories “Hufflepuff Common Room,” “The Marauder’s Map,”and  “The Great Lake.” Learning about the Hufflepuff common room was interesting. While it was never in the books, Rowling still knew behind the scenes just how her Hufflepuff’s get in and out of their common room. She also mentions the methods of entering the other three common rooms in comparison. Some history is added about the Marauder’s Map as well as some previous owners and contemporary uses. The Great Lake is a bit of a mystery, but Rowling has it developed for when she thought there would be more use of it in the novels, such as a magic gateway (I mean, how else did Durmstrang’s ship come out of the lake?)
  • “Lessons at Hogwarts” has short stories that shed light on “Hogwarts School Subjects” and “Time-Turner[s].” Rowling gives more definitive information on the various school subjects that students can take based on what year they are in, as well as comparing Hogwarts subjects to Muggle school subjects. The time-turner information is interesting in that it shares the history, uses, and precautions of time-turners, and Rowling explains the eradication of time-turners to avoid plot implications in the novels.
  • “Castle Residents” features the stories “Hogwarts Ghosts,” “Ghosts,” “The Ballad of Nearly Headless Nick,” “Hogwarts Portraits,” and “Sir Cadogan.” Rowling depicts the traits of specific ghosts who are permanent residents of Hogwarts in comparison to ghosts in general. The ballad is a song by Nearly Headless Nick that was removed from the final publication of the novels, but it is rather humorous if you can laugh with darker humor. Rowling explains how the portraits are crafted and how they work, not being actual people, merely imitated bits. Sir Cadogan is a knight in one of the more famous Hogwarts portraits and is given a more thorough background and history here.
  • “Secrets of the Castle is the last chapter of this series of short stories and contains “Mirror or Erised,” “Pensieve,” “The Philosopher’s Stone,” “The Sword of Gryffendor,” and “The Chamber of Secrets.” Rowling goes into more detail into these magical objects and places, including origins and relation to real historical myth and legend. These were very interesting and well worth the read.

All in all, these stories are worth the read for any Harry Potter fan. They add just a bit more magic to the world that readers already know and love. Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies and Unreliable Guide are the best of the three, but Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists has its interesting merits as well. Despite not being actual stories with dialogue and new adventures for the characters we love, it was a fun intellectual read that I would go back to again, as well as hope for more from Rowling.

Lord of Shadows (Dark Artifices #2)-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 5/5

The second book in The Dark Artifices trilogy (following Lady Midnight), this book does not disappoint. It is paced much better than the first novel and gives a lot of time to character development. (I would highly recommend reading Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy BEFORE reading this book; it adds a lot of information to what is unfolded in this volume).

The first half of the book mostly takes place in Faerie, when Gwyn shows up at the institute begging Mark to save Kieran, who is going to be murdered by the Unseelie King. Of course, Emma, Julian, and Christina cannot let Mark go alone. By going with Mark, the four must each give up something to enter Faerie, and in return learn of something they will gain or encounter in the fae land.

Meanwhile, Clare spends an exorbitant amount of time developing Tiberius and Livia Blackthorn, and their friend Kit (Christopher) Herondale, the newest edition to the Los Angeles Institute. The relationship that Ty has with both his sister and Kit greatly develops his character, and the fact that he has autism makes him even more interesting and unique, and their relationship may develop to something brotherly…or more?

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Gwyn and Diana are also more developed in this book, which greatly adds to their characters, and makes me want to see more of what they will be doing.

When Malcom Fade returns from the dead to wreak havoc on the institute while the four Shadowhunters are in Faerie, the Centurions that are there to investigate battle him, and Zara Dearbourn takes credit for his death, when Julian sees Malcom’s true death in Faerie. Malcom Fade successfully resurrects Annabel Blackthorn with the sacrifice of Blackthorn blood, and Annabel returns the favor by murdering her once-lover.

Now the Seelie Queen wants the Black Volume to take down the Unseelie King, and she wants the Shadowhunter’s help. The second half of the book takes place in London, where the Blackthorn children have fled to for their own safety. Kit, Ty, and Livvy investigate Annabel’s past. Emma and Julian’s rough relationship brings them to find some way around the parabatai curse, all while looking for Annabel and the Black volume. But they are not the only ones seeking the Black volume. The Unseelie Kings Riders of Mannon seek the Black Volume, and predict the Blackthorns have it. Saved by an unexpected ally, the Blackthorns meet Annabel and ask her to swear upon the Mortal Sword that Zara did not kill Malcom, but rather, that she did.

All the while while this is going on, Zara Dearborn is taking credit for Malcom’s death, among other events of heroism, is prejudiced against Downworlders, and is aiming to take the Lost Angeles Institute from the Blackthorn Family.

This book leave us wondering: What will happen to Emma and Julian? What about Ty, Livvy, and Kit? Will Julian be separated from his family?

This book was exciting, and I am ITCHING for the last one! Obviously, the answer is YES, you should read this book!

Some side notes:

The first edition of Lord of Shadows comes with a reverse jacket featuring a number of different Shadowhunter runes.

The Target edition has a map of Alicante, the Barnes and Noble edition comes with an exclusive short 7-page scene between Emma and Julian, and the Costco edition comes with a beautiful poster of Emma drawn by Cassandra Jean:

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Also, be on the lookout for the City of Bones 10th Anniversary edition (with exclusive art by Cassandra Jean) coming out this November, as well as the City of Bones graphic novel, published by Yen Press:

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