Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare | Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
When you love someone, they become a part of who you are. They're in everything you do. They're in the air you breathe and the water you drink and the blood in your veins. Their touch stays on your skin and their voice stays in your ears and their thoughts stay in your mind. You know their dreams because their nightmares pierce your heart and their good dreams are your dreams too. And you don't think they're perfect, but you know their flaws, the deep-down truth of them, and the shadows of all their secrets, and they don't frighten you away; in fact you love them more for it, because you don't want perfect. You want them. You want—"
He broke off then, as if realizing everyone was looking at him again.
There are many reoccurring themes and characters mentioned from past releases by Cassandra Clare in Lady Midnight, but perhaps the most significant part to this installment–the first of a planned trilogy called The Dark Artifices–is the nod to a small truth each and everyone of us faces. It’s that sometimes answers come about in ways you least expected and that often, these truths can leave our lives in shambles and make us wonder how it came to be.
Not to mention a world of betrayal.
So–answers. Answers and more questions. That’s the first thing we come to see and have resolved piece by piece throughout this monster of a novel. Lady Midnight is large and fast paced and steamy; Clare brings us back into the Shadowhunter world effortlessly and in some ways just keeps getting better.
This isn’t too say there are no rough patches. Frankly there are a few and Lady Midnight may not be for everyone. I will always prefer The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments but this is a whole new view of their world and I respect that. It was a very solid read with likable characters that aren’t what we’ve seen before–not really–and at times it all felt a bit darker compared to Clare’s previous releases.
Lady Midnight also felt immensely more adult than our other books from her catalogue. This, surely, has a lot to do with our lead characters all having had to grow up quickly–Emma lost her parents at such a young age and had her heart set on answers to who killed her parents and revenge against them.
Julian’s parents were both long dead, too, and in so many ways he had to pick up the slack and care for his younger siblings. Not only was his father taken from him, his older half-sister and half-brother were taken from them in different ways.
He went from kid to parent, basically, and he struggles with his feelings for his parabatai. In a lot of ways, Emma and Julian are these kids parents and it’s sad to see because they are so young. But in these moments, and looking back to their introduction in City of Heavenly Fire, you are able to see their partnership and how in sync they are.
You also forget how young they are.
And then there’s Mark, Julian’s older half-brother who was taken and forced into a life in the Wild Hunt. Although I loved Emma and Julian, Mark is one of the strongest characters in this novel and plays a huge part throughout it all. Mark was returned to his family in secret and in exchange for something, but he isn’t the Mark that left them and we see just how rough life has handled him in the years that have passed.
You see, Mark just felt more real to me than any of the characters and it’s not something I can explain. I just thought he was developed the best and continued to grow through the novel.
His love interests all felt really, really less forced, too. The way he loved Kieran and the way he came to care about Christina and even Emma upon arriving back home. It all felt nicely down and I appreciate his sexuality far more than I could ever explain.
Let’s talk relationships, shall we? Romantic inclinations, first.
Emma and Julian’s relationship, and the curse that comes with Shadowhunters falling in love with their Parabatai, didn’t feel entirely rushed and was far different from Will/Tessa, Tessa/Jem, Clary/Jace and the other relationships in the original series. It was nice to see play out but still, at times, felt familiar in the wrong ways.
I liked, as I said, how in sync they are. These are two people who have known each other all their lives and have grown up and been through so much together.
Their transition from friends to more is complicated but still has a certain sort of rightness in it. You know? I loved that Julian hadn’t ever been kissed and was a virgin, while Emma has more experience–it’s nice to see the tables flipped and there’s no judgment or passive aggressiveness towards either characters sexuality.
Needless to say, it was a right choice to have them make love (I hate that saying for whatever reason but here we are) at an earlier point in this novel. Because they’ve known each other for so long and have been through so much and their feelings came to a head. Blah-blah-blah, you get my point. I think their entire relationship is a nod to both romance and the fact that they would sacrifice so much for one another, they would die for each other.
Their connection is so strong.
Cristina and Diego. Cristina Rosales is a new addition to the Los Angeles institute and the best friend of Emma Carstairs and basically she is a perfect angel, okay? Cristina had a relationship before she came here–with Diego, dubbed “Perfect Diego” and he broke her heart in many ways.
When Diego makes his appearance in Lady Midnight we’re kind of unsure about him but it’s apparent after a while that things aren’t as they seem and that Cristina left too hasty. There’s definitely something still there and it flames by the end of the novel–but are they meant to be?
There are two more Cristina relationships I’m fond of. First of that batch would be her friendship with Emma. I love how supportive they are in spite of their differences and how they approach things.
They could have had a very complicated non friendship sort of deal but they work wonderfully together and it’s great to see such a strong portrayal of female friendships and each time they communicate you’re kind of like, “OH! I wish they were parabatai.” and basically, you’re gonna love their relationship.
And lastly would be Cristina and Mark. They are clearly both attracted to each other and think highly of one another. Mark needed someone like Cristina; someone who didn’t know him before he was taken because our boy felt as if he was just disappointing everyone by being different and having a hard time.
Cristina knows him though, in some way, they know each other and there’s a respect there that can turn into something more and then again it might not now that Diego is around. But I’m looking forward to seeing them more.
The last romantic relationship I’m tackling in my review would be Mark and Kieran. I have mixed feelings about these two but that is mainly because of Kieran’s spiteful actions and his part in the sure-to-be infamous whipping scene–yet at the same time, I find him to be utterly human in spite of his fey blood and you can see his actions were out of love of Mark and fear of having lost him.
That being said, Mark and Kieran have a lot of chemistry that is important to acknowledge. For so many years, Kieran and Mark had only each other and were more than just lovers and I think that past is something that is very, very important to keep in mind. I hope we don’t see the last of it because of how Kieran was determined to help Mark and the Blackthorns during the battle against the big bad.
Next up… family relationships. We get a small nod to the relationship between Jem and Emma, who are both similar and just a general important relationship to look into. Jem makes an appearance in both flashbacks and present time and he still is my favorite, we get to see some cute moments between him and Emma and Tessa, too, makes an appearance.
I always wanted to see these two be explored in an older and younger sibling sort of way, since I can’t see it as parental just yet, and I wasn’t disappointed and hopefully we get more.
Blackthorns! Okay, wow. I think I like the Blackthorns more than the Lightwoods? And that’s weird to me because I fucking (excuse my language) the Lightwoods. But the thing is they work so marvelously together as a family unit and I’m absolutely including Emma in it, and Diana, and it’s just great to see a family have their flaws yet still be undeniably loving towards one another.
I loved how it took a while for Mark to find his place back at home but did. I love how he and Julian but heads and yet still are remarkably warm to each other. I love seeing more of the younger kids and hope to get to know them. And lastly, I loved their determination when one of their own is taken from them in the climax and how quick they think to save this person’s life.
One thing missing? Helen. I wish there had been so much more of her in this one but because of where she is, it just wouldn’t happen at that point. BUT, I hope to see more of her and her wife, Aline, in future installments.
Spooky mentions and a lot of death that while make you go ?? what just happen ?? because, oh, you’ll see. I liked the inclusion of creepy foreshadowing, hints we missed and clues in poetry that just blend in really well with the story and its dark atmosphere.
A LOT OF RETURNS! And expansions. We get more mentions on Helen and Mark’s mother, Lady Nerissa, and answers on Emma’s parents deaths–which hurt because of a massive betrayal. I am not kidding: Cassandra Clare, you ripped my heart out. We get a lot of history of the Blackthorn family, too, which will send chills down your spine and sympathy to one Blackthorn of the past.
Malcolm Fade was the biggest surprise and I am just not going to get into that. We’ve known of him for a long time because of his position as High Warlock of L.A., and his connections to Magnus Bane and Tessa Gray and so on. I didn’t see where his plot was going but when it all came together, it was clear as day.
There are a few other mentions and returns. Clary and Jace and their history play a huge part and get a lot of awkwardly placed mentions but it was good to know what they were up to and we get a visit from them, with Magnus, at the end of Lady Midnight.
I’m so pumped to learn that they are running the NY institute and that Simon/Izzy just got engaged and Malec is being uber cute parental figures to two kids, named Rafael and Max.
And that ending?
By the Angel, give me the second book already!
Between that hook up, that plan and that surprise twist of a certain resurrection, the second novel in this series cannot come sooner. Hurry your pretty little butt up, Cassandra, before I blow up!
Overall, Lady Midnight was a solid release and nice start to a brand new story. This isn’t what you’re expecting and it’s a blast. There’s a lot familiar elements from this world and it is like greeting an old friend, but fortunately for us it isn’t the same story rehashed for the third time. Incredibly vivid, action packed and romantic, Lady Midnight is one of the best fantasy releases this year for young adults and will surely capture everyone’s attention.