In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.
A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other – but they can never fall in love.
Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip and faeries – the most powerful of supernatural creatures – teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge – and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks… and before the murderer targets them.
Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents – and can she bear to know the truth?
Lady Midnight is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s new Shadowhunters trilogy, The Dark Artifices. Even though Lady Midnight is the first book in the trilogy, if you haven’t read The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices and you plan to in the future, I’d recommend reading those first because Lady Midnight contains spoilers for those books and will ruin your reading experience if you plan to go back. (If you haven’t read The Infernal Devices, what are you doing with your life?) Lady Midnight also has spoilers for Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, which is a collection of short stories that you should read after TMI. I was waiting for the hardcover bind-up to be released at the end of this year before reading them, and I regretted that decision because my reading experience with Lady Midnight could have been enhanced if I’d read those short stories first.
Enough ramble. Lady Midnight is set 5 years after the events of The Mortal Instruments, and we get to meet Emma Carstairs as a 17 year old. Since coming back to Los Angeles from Idris after City of Heavenly Fire, she’s had the parabatai ceremony with Julian Blackthorn and has been secretly investigating the mysterious murders of her parents with little success. This book begins when a string of very similar murders occur in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Institute is approached by the Fey to investigate. In return for identifying the murderer, the Fey promise to give Mark Blackthorn the opportunity to be returned to his family, but they must solve the mystery in 3 weeks. However, due to certain things that happened in TMI, Shadowhunters are not allowed to associate or work with faeries, so the LA Institute must investigate without the Clave (governing body of the Shadowhunters) knowing and without outside help.
I really enjoyed the plot of the story. It explored magic and dark magic, which is something that we didn’t see a lot of in the previous Shadowhunter books. We also get to learn more about the Fey and the different courts. In TMI, we mostly saw the Seelie Court and the Seelie Queen, but this book features the Unseelie Court and the Wild Hunt, which I thought was super interesting. I did find the pace of the book to be a little slow, particularly at the beginning. There wasn’t really much happening in the first 200 pages but the pace started to pick up gradually. I really enjoyed how the pieces of the puzzle came together and nothing felt rushed or sudden. It was a well thought out plot that developed nicely. Also despite this book not being particularly fast-paced or action-packed, I read it pretty quickly in 3 sittings. The plot had me immersed in the world and I was just keen to see how it would all play out.
Even though the plot was great, the characters in this book (as with most of Cassie’s other books) were the standout. I love reading about big families and the Blackthorns is definitely a big family with lots of unique and diverse characters. We have the twins, Livvy and Ty, who are almost inseparable and very protective of each other. Ty has an autism spectrum disorder, which made him a very interesting character and one that you hardly ever encounter in fantasy novels. I loved how much Cassandra Clare highlighted his little quirks and made it clear that his differences were completely okay. We also have Drusilla, who’s on the slightly chubbier side and the adorable Tavvy who’s the youngest of the family.
And then of course, we have Julian who’s spent all these years looking after his siblings and acting like the parent of the family. I really liked Julian’s character and the way that he cares for others and for Emma. He didn’t wow me or give me heart-eyes like the other male leads of Cassie Clare’s books (probably because I first met him in TMI when he was 12) but I still found his character to be wonderful. There were times when I was a little bit scared of Julian’s ability to lie and how far he would go to protect those he loves, but I can see where he’s coming from. I also really liked Emma, and I wasn’t really expecting to because I didn’t like her very much in TMI. She’s another one of Cassie’s headstrong female characters who rushes into situations without thinking. I did find it to be a little bit annoying at the beginning of the book but she quickly grew on me, and I definitely like her a lot more than I liked Clary Fray. I also really loved that she’s not new to the Shadowhunter world, like Tessa and Clary were. She grew up in a Shadowhunter family and she’s known that she’s a Shadowhunter her whole life, which allowed us to jump right into the story without having to go through the torturous “oh no, I can’t be a Shadowhunter” thing.
My favourite character in the book, though, was Mark Blackthorn. He was just such an interesting and complex character. He’s half-Shadowhunter and half-faerie and I really liked how we got to see both sides of him. I loved seeing how his time with the Wild Hunt had changed him and how he doesn’t really know how to interact with others in the real world anymore. I’m really glad that we got to see so much of him in the book. I wasn’t really expecting him to play such a large role in it and was really happy that we got to see him interact with his family. The other character who I really enjoyed was Cristina. She was fierce and fantastic but also very gentle and warm. I loved her back story and I wish we got to see a little bit more of her in this book. I can’t wait to read more of her story in the sequel though!
Now on to the romance, which was a surprisingly small aspect of the book considering how much hype there was about the forbidden parabatai romance. I thought it was handled well for most of the book, until we reached the end. The ending felt a little bit tropey and dramatic, and I can already tell that I’ll probably dislike how the romance is going to play out in the next book. It also ended on an unbearable cliffhanger and I need to know what happens next! There was much more focus on the parabatai bond than the actual romance and I really, really appreciated that. However, pretty much every mention of parabatai made me cry because I kept thinking about Will and Jem’s bond in TID. I loved how much we explored the bond between parabatai and why certain rules exist. It was really interesting and I’m curious to see how Emma and Julian can find a way around it because I don’t really see any loopholes.
Overall, I was really impressed with Lady Midnight. It wasn’t as good as the Infernal Devices books but I liked it more than most of the Mortal Instruments instalments. It was a really great focus on family and friendship and I loved how the book wasn’t romance-heavy, which I expected it to be. The plot was great and I have zero idea about what’s going to happen next. I hope we don’t have to wait long for the sequel!