This book review contains spoilers, so if you have not read this book then please do not proceed. I’m not going to say I didn’t warn you.
Lady Midnight is the first book in The Dark Artifices, the sequel series to The Mortal Instruments, written by Cassandra Clare. It follows Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn five years after the events of City of Heavenly Fire have taken place.
I purchased this book myself, and read it in paperback format, which was published by Simon & Schuster.
Parabatai Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn investigate a series of murders that has rocked both the Faerie and Shadowhunter world. It’s been five years since Emma’s parents were killed during the events of City of Heavenly Fire when Sebastian Morgenstern attacked the L.A. Institute, and Emma is hellbent on finding out who took her parents from her. At the same time, Julian’s been keeping secrets, Mark, Julian’s brother, who was being held captive by The Wild Hunt, has a chance to return to the Shadowhunter world, and Emma longs to know why falling in love with your parabatai is forbidden.
There had been so much hype surrounding this book before its release, and even after it released. I was very excited to read the book, considering I’d just finished City of Heavenly Fire. When the book came in the mail, I was super excited, but the size of the book really put me off. For a first book in a new series, this is considerably long, and it does scare me to think about how long the next two books are going to be. (Note: this was the same size as City of Heavenly Fire, the last book in The Mortal Instruments)
Cassandra Clare has always been an amazing writer; she is so good at world-building, writing angst-y romances and describing emotions. Her writing gets better as she continues to write her books, and the skill with which she describes the setting is amazing. I was comparing her writing in City of Bones to her writing in Lady Midnight and the writing is worlds apart, and it just shows how far she’s come. I absolutely love reading her descriptions, and I personally believe she knows where to draw the line before it becomes too description-heavy.
We met a lot more characters than expected in this book. I knew Emma, Julian and his siblings would be important characters in the book, but I didn’t expect characters like Johnny and Kit Rook, Cristina and Perfect Diego to be so crucial in the book. Malcolm Fade, the warlock, played a huger role than I anticipated (which I will touch on later in this review). We also got to meet characters from other series: Tessa Gray and Jem Carstairs from The Infernal Devices, and Clary, Jace and Magnus from The Mortal Instruments. Characters such as Kieran, Mark’s lover and companion during The Wild Hunt, are also very important. There were a lot of characters, and I didn’t expect to see so many in the first book itself, but Clare crafted them in such a way that you didn’t lose track of who was who.
Clare plunges you straight into the action without much of a preamble. The storyline was quite unique; all the murders were based on Edgar Allan Poe’s last completed poem, ‘Annabel Lee’, but in Lady Midnight, the poem was based off of an age-old love story where a Nephilim girl fell in love with a Downworlder warlock, namely Malcolm Fade. Annabel Blackthorn and Malcolm Fade fell in love before the Accords were signed, so a Nephilim-Downworld love story was forbidden, and Annabel was punished by her family. She was locked up in an iron tower, and “died of loneliness”. Malcolm was informed that she’d become an Iron Sister, so when Malcolm heard of her death, he felt betrayed by his own friends, and by the Shadowhunter Law. The murders are all a part of Malcolm’s sacrifice to bring back Annabel from the dead.
“‘First the flame and then the flood:
In the end, it’s Blackthorn blood.
Seek thou to forget what’s past
First thirteen and then the last.
Search not the book of angels gray,
Red or white will lead you far astray.
To regain what you have lost,
Find the black book at any cost.’”
Edgar Allan Poe was a Romantic poet, and though I didn’t study his works in class, I did study Romanticism when studying John Keats and Charles Lamb’s Essays of Elia. Mythology and magical realism were all very important aspects of Romantic poetry, and I absolutely love how Clare took these elements and spun a whole story around it. She is ingenuous when it comes to turning something “mundane” into something involving the Nephilim, which makes us believe in the world she’s building even more. I have read ‘Annabel Lee’ before, but now I have a whole new take on it (She did the same thing with the Jack the Ripper murders in a novella in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy.)
Amongst all of this, Emma is grappling with her own feelings towards Julian; she’s fallen in love with him, but parabatai are forbidden from falling in love. She and Julian sleep together (I didn’t know Shadowhunters had birth protection runes), and they even profess their love to each other, but pursuing anything means turning her back on the only family she’s known, which is something she can’t do. This is where I kind of got mad at Emma; to try and get Julian to fall out of love with her, she lies about being with Mark (which is honestly just a very bitchy thing to do). I’m pretty sure this is going to cause a lot more trouble in the coming books, considering things are complicated between Mark and Cristina.
The book finally ends with the epilogue in which we find out that Fade was actually successful in raising Annabel Lee from the dead, so I cannot wait to see how she is integrated into the story in the next book. I don’t know if I can wait an entire year for another Cassandra Clare book.
I really enjoyed this book; it definitely lived up to its hype, and Cassandra Clare is a genius in her own right. She’s skilfully developed her characters and built on this beautiful world she’s already developed so well. This book was called Cassandra Clare’s best work yet, but would I go so far as it call it her best work yet? Not really, no. The Infernal Devices is my favorite series and it will take a lot from her before she can trump that trilogy.
Final verdict: 5/5 stars
I hope you enjoyed this book review! Let me know what you thought of this book after reading it, and whether or not you think this is Cassandra Clare’s best work to date.
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