Book Critique – Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices # 1)
For review of all books in this series: Go here.
For review of the first Shadowhunter Chronicles series, The Mortal Instruments: Go here.
Stars: 3.5 / 5
My Recommendation: Another series in the Shadowhunter Chronicles revolving around the Carstairs and Blackthorns, still keeping in with the theme of twists and turns involving angels and demons, shadowhunters and downworlders and above all budding romances and eternal love. A very good opening to the series.
Lady Midnight is the first book in The Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare published in March of 2016. This is the third set of books in The Shadowhunter Chronicles, the second set being The Infernal Devices, which I am yet to read.
The plot in this particular book is set in modern day Los Angeles in an alternate world where humans, vampires, werewolves, magical fey, demons and shadow hunters co-exist. It begins in 2012, five years after the events of the final book, City of Heavenly Fire, from the first set of The Shadowhunter Chronicles. It revolves around Emma Cordelia Carstairs and Julian "Jules" Blackthorn.
At the end of the final book, City of Heavenly Fire, in The Mortal Instruments Series, Cassandra Clare made it very clear that her next plot would begin in Los Angeles revolving around the Blackthorn kids and Carstairs girl. As expected she begins her series with Emma Carstairs and her life as a shadowhunter living in the Los Angeles Institute along with the Blackthorn kids.
Emma Carstairs becomes parabatai to Julian Blackthorn while they grieve their loss of Mark Antony Blackthorn to The Wild Hunt and Helen Blackthorn to the Clave ruling to live in Wrangel Island. They live with the rest of the Blackthorn brood - Uncle Arthur, the twins Livia "Livvy" and Tiberus "Ty" Nero, Drusilla "Dru" and Octavius "Tavvy" - all the while everyone of them getting trained to become Shadowhunters and patrolling the night for rogue Downwolders and Mundanes.
But Emma hadn't forgotten her parents murders. And Julian hasn’t forgotten about his step siblings whom they have yet to get back. Now a string of murders are occurring, mostly of the Fair Folk, all of them eerily similar to how Emma's parents were killed. And Emma and Julian will go to any lengths to solve the murders and get their siblings back. But will they face the forbidden love between them with same force and come out shining.
Keeping to the central theme of how she shaped The Mortal Instruments books, Cassandra surrounds Emma and Julian, other than the Blackthorn siblings, with similar people around them, aiding and abetting - Cristina "Tina" Mendoza Rosales (a Shadowhunter from Mexico), Malcolm Fade (The High Warlock of Los Angeles), Anselm Nightshade (head of the Los Angeles Vampire Clan) and Diego Rocio Rosales (a Centurion).
Cassandra also introduces a few more organizations surrounding the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders, which is expected. She also doesn’t shun against mixing the characters with varied sexual preferences - gays, bisexual - or gender neutrality. Again this is another similarity with the Mortal Instruments series.
Although this time around she doesn’t divide the book into parts like her previous series, she does base the book centrally around the poem Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe. In fact she uses lines directly from the poem as the title for each chapter in the book.
Continuing with the theme similar to The Mortal Instruments, she throws forbidden love as well as love triangles at the fringes for Emma and Julian to deal with. To top it, she shoves a lot of responsibilities on Julian's shoulders at a tender age of 12, giving him no choice but to make some serious decisions.
Cassandra gives a detailed picture of the struggles Julian faces and how Emma supports, giving the readers a soft spot for Julian even though some decisions would perhaps yield grave consequences to them. I feel this would be one of those inconsequential details that she is leaving for the next book, where she would exploit it around Julian.
There is a scene in the plot where Julian explains what it means to be in love, and what true love is. The whole scene reminded me of the scene from a 1998 Indian Hindi-language romantic drama film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai ( = Something Something Happens), where the lead actor - Shah Rukh Khan - answers a similar question about love and friendship. The scenes are as similar as they are different.
Considerable mention of The Wild Hunt, Unseelie Court and Seelie Court is seen again in the plot which kept on taking me back to Wild Hunt series by Nancy Corrigan. Although that series is an erotic romance fiction involving humans, fairies, wild immortal hunters from hell. My review of those books are here. Waiting for the author to pick up that series again
This being a sequel to The Mortal Instruments, one would expect to see the characters from that series pop in here. It was a pleasure to meet them all again and know what is going on in their lives as well. This thread that the authors continue in a series always makes me happy.
Does it ever happen to a reader that they fall in love with the characters of a book or feel jealous about them - jealous in the fact that you want their life? It happens frequently for me with quite a bit of books I read. And similarly with The Mortal Instruments series, even though I didn’t like the beginning I fell in love with Jace and Clary and other characters as that series ended.
One scene that Cassandra describes between Jace and Clary in this book haunted me all through the read. That's what I mean by loving those characters so much. I do hope I fall in love with Emma and Julian similarly.
With unexpected twists and turns, normally expected, the Blackthorn kids and Emma continually come up with solutions and path to move forward in finding the truth. But the betrayals they face is heart breaking and shocking. Also the heavy responsibility that Julian takes on his shoulder, and the path he traverses while keeping his family together, must have some kind of repercussions. And I am very curious to pick the next book and see how the kids fare.
A very good opening book for this set of books in The Shadowhunter Chronicles, focusing on the Blackthorns and Carstairs, while taking the reader on an adventure through the Shadowhunter World, facing perils at every turn of the page while striving to figure out solutions and find love.
1. Plot Reveals:
a. Current fate of Shadowhunter heroes from The Mortal Instruments that we have come to love them - Jace Herondale and Clary Fairchild from The Mortal Instruments, are running the New York Institute, youngest shadowhunters to be in such a senior position. Simon Lewis, Clary's best friend, is a Shadowhunter now and becomes Clary's parabatai. Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane are still a couple who have adopted a warlock child named, Max. Currently Alec is in Buenos Aires on Shadowhunter business. Isabelle Lightwood and Simon get married at the end of the plot. Although wonder when will Jace and Clary tie the knot.
b. Livvy wants her twin Ty to be her parabatai. But Ty refuses, instead he wants to join the Scholomance - a school for more elite Shadowhunters.
c. Kieran - The Prince of Unseelie Court - and Mark Blackthorn briefly are lovers before Cristina comes to Mark's life. But Cristina Rosales has a past with Diego Rocio Rosales from her past, who is a Centurion with the Scholomace. A love quartet between Keiran, Christina, Diego and Mark is spun by Cassandra.
d. Johnny Rook and Kit Rook are Shadowhunters belonging to the Herondale family. After his father's murder, Christopher "Kit" Jonathan Herondale is saved by Jem, Tess and Emma. He ends up residing at the LA institute at the end.
e. Drusilla seems to have a crush on Diego.
f. Brother Zachariah whom we had seen all through The Mortal Instruments series, who was changed back to what he was before he took his Silent Brother vows 150 years ago, has a connection with Emma Carstairs per City of Heavenly Fire. It is revealed in this book that his real name is James "Jem" Carstairs, an ancestor to Emma and that he would be back soon with Emma and Julian as he need their help in something. Although Jem and Tessa are still a couple.
g. Malcolm Fade, the High Warlock of Los Angeles, betrays the Blackthorns and Emma in the end of this plot. He steals the "Black Volume of the Dead" from the LA institute's library, to raise his lover, Annabel Blackthorn, from dead. In the ensuing fight between him and Emma at the end, the book is lost at the bottom of the ocean where Malcolm is thrown after being killed. Emma feels the power of the book go into her sword Cortana during the fight.
h. Diana Wrayburn, who has been assigned as the tutor to the kids at the Los Angeles Institute, has a history that is not yet revealed in this plot. More meat for next book or already covered in the second set of books - The Infernal Devices - that I havent read yet.
i. To save his family and institute, Julian throws a false trail at Anselm Nightshade - the head vampire of LA - to steer the Inquisitor away from the Institute and them. More to see about Anselm in the next plot perhaps.
j. Annabel Blackthorn rises from the dead at the end despite the incomplete ceremony, although she is still bones and old dead skin.
a. What are the old ties between Herondales and the Silent Brothers? Perhaps would be part of this series now that we have Kit Herondale also in the mix along with Jace.
b. In City of Souls, the angel Raziel, calls Simon as Simon Maccabees, an ancestor of Simon. I expected Cassandra to expand this in her future books of that series. But she hadnt. Wonder if that will come up again in this series.
c. In City of Heavenly Fire:
i. Why does Ty's hair look different than the rest of Blackthorns - not the step-siblings?
ii. There is no closure to Lilith yet in this plot as well.
iii. What will be consequences that Magnus and Isabelle face for putting a spell on Simon to get his memories back, the ones taken by Asmodeus in order to send Simon and his friends back to the living world.
iv. The Fair Folk - fairies - are punished severely by The Clave at the end of the war for their role in the war waged by Sebastian Morgenstern, despite objections from a few set of Shadowhunters and Downworlders. Cassandra leaves it open that they would come back to fight the Shadowhunters with vengeance. The fate of Seelie Queen is not shown either. But the Dark Artifices plot seems to spiral into this Cold Peace where there might be a show down between the Shadowhunters and the Fair Folk.
3. Characters that potentially could be part of the future series from The Shadowhunter Chronicles, that appear in The Mortal Instruments series are:
a. From the Infernal Devices - Magnus Bane (the High Warlock of New York); Camille Belcourt (current leader of the vampire clan in New York); Woolsey Scott (founder of the Wolf Guard, The Praetor); William "Will" Herondale - connected to the dead inquisitor Imogen Herondale.
4. Some of the places, food, movies and books that Emma, Julian and the gang entertain themselves while on shadowhunter business:
a. In London the Blackthorn kids get to eat a pudding called toads-in-the-hole. It sounds yuck, but the recipe seems interesting. More about it here.
b. Dru wears her braids just like Pippi Longstocking - one of my favorite cartoon characters. I wrote a review about that movie here.
c. They all watch the famous romantic comedy Notting Hill released in 1999.
d. Emma quotes from The Art of War, an ancient Chinese military treatise dating back to 5th Century BC. More about it here.
e. References to movies and TV Shows - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lottery TV Series, Casablanca
f. Cassandra references to the Ballad of Thomas Rhymer all through the previous series and in this book as well. But which ballad was she referencing to?
5. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:
a. On Pg. 280, Line 2, it should be "..It's been shut…"