*Warning: Some spoilers ahead and a really long review
My Rating: ★★★★★ (4.8 out of 5 stars)
Series: The Dark Artifices (Book 1)
Hardcover: 698 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy and Romance
My (extremely long and detailed) Review
By the Angel, this book is phenomenal! As I’ve said before, I rarely give books a perfect score, but this one and ACOMAF have come pretty damn close. There are so many great things I have to say about Lady Midnight, so let me begin by saying bravo, Ms. Clare. Bravo. I truly think Lady Midnight is your best one yet.
The story starts off in the Shadow Market, a place where Downworlders and mundanes with the Sight sell their wares, and we are briefly introduced to a mysterious character named Johnny Rook and his equally intriguing son, Kit. From there, we catch our first glimpse of our witty heroine, Emma Carstairs, who is accompanied by a fellow Shadowhunter. She is at the market to further her investigation into her parents’ suspicious murders. Rook has some useful secrets to sell, and these secrets reveal a bigger mystery at hand. *Cue the X-Files music.*
Some weird stuff is going down that may or may not be related to the death of Emma’s parents and though the Clave would prevent her from continuing an investigation into these strange occurrences, nothing is going to stand in the way of Emma and her thirst for vengeance.
The beginning is much more fast paced than most of her other novels in the Shadowhunter’s series. It took me a while to get into the first book in both the Infernal Devices and the Mortal Instruments, but I had no such issue with Lady Midnight. Once I started reading, it was very hard to stop.
Clare does an excellent job in capturing my attention and maintaining it unto the very end. There was never a dull moment in this monstrously big book. I was far too invested in the relationships that were built up and torn down throughout the novel. While the mystery aspect is compelling, the focus of the story rests on the characters. The who-dunnit element of the plot is complimentary yet subordinate to the family dynamics and romantic pairings of the novel. There are periods in which the action subsides or is purely absent, but I was never bored during these periods because the focus shifts to the Blackthorn family, their slow exploration of the mysterious deaths, and of course, the romance.
The characters are the highlight of this book. Julian is, by far, my favorite character, second only to his brothers, Mark and Ty. His character is sensitive, artistic, loving, secretive, and just plain good. His perception of love is among the most romantic and mature I’ve read so far in a young adult fantasy novel. He loves his family more than life itself and he acts as the Papa Bear to his brothers and sisters, believing them to be his children, his babies, that he must care for until they don’t need him anymore.
“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.”
The times where he contemplates the what ifs in life are among the most heartbreaking. He’s been forced into a situation where he must be the father, rather than the brother, to his siblings and he constantly reflects on the decisions he makes, hoping that when the time comes for his babies to leave, they won’t resent him in the end.
What if, like a normal brother, he could watch Sherlock Holmes movies with Ty and help him collect lizards without worrying that they were going to escape and run through the Institute? What if?
The interactions between Emma and Julian are heartwarming and realistic as they trade witty remarks in their casual banter and slowly begin to realize their true feelings for one another. Their interactions are sweet and pure and everything you could wish for in a YA romance. And though I loved Jemma, and I ship it to the ends of the earth, I was more in love with Julian and his family.
Each member of the Blackthorn family is a character all their own and completely lovable. Mark is the lost child, even though he is the eldest. Dru is the horror film junkie and resident sweetheart. Livvy is the spunky twin with warrior potential. Ty is the lovably different one and twin to Livvy. And Tavvy is the baby. I loved each and every one of them so much that I nearly got a heart attack during the events in the end.
Clare did well to portray diversity in a cast of characters that differ in ethnicity, language, class, sexual orientation, living situation, mental health, and so much more. You can always count on Clare to give you an LGBTQ+ romance that steals your heart and tears it up over and over again. The author also touches on some more serious topics regarding mental health and learning disabilities and these issues are represented mostly in Ty and his Uncle Arthur. So there’s never a lack of great content in the novel.
Another thing I greatly appreciated was the tie-in of my favorite poem, Annabel Lee. The way Clare brought the poem to life was creative and original and superbly done. Each of the chapter titles are lines from the poem, and at first I thought that was all there was to it, but the titlesare reflective of the story, the mystery, as a whole.
I had only a couple issues with this book. The first being the representation of the female characters. While both Emma and Cristina are strong and capable females who don’t need no man, there isn’t much else I could say about them. While Julian, Mark, and Ty are given remarkable complexities to their characters, Emma can mostly be summed up as a warrioress with a chip on her shoulder who tries too hard to be witty and is way too ditzy in some cases, especially in the case of love.
His voice was rough; he looked as if he hadn’t slept. Emma wondered what could have kept him up. Research?
By this time, a brick could have deciphered Julian’s feelings. No one should be that clueless, especially not our fearless heroine. Besides her, seemingly, deliberate ignorance, Emma is solely focused on solving her parents’ murders and getting revenge. I enjoyed the times she interacts with the Blackthorns, and though she lives with them, she still seems apart from them due to her single-minded purpose. She’s a likable character, better than Clary IMO, but still not the heroine I wish Clare would write.
As for Cristina, I didn’t much care for her storyline. She’s a great companion to Emma and seems like a nice person, but I didn’t trust her the whole book and I don’t think that was Clare’s intention. I know next to nothing about the girl and though she’s a friend, I can’t seem to care about what she does or does not do. She really is that uninteresting in my eyes.
My last issue with this book: There’s not nearly enough Magnus Bane.
But that’s it! Lady Midnight was close to perfection in its storyline, cast of characters, action, romance, diversity, and humor (so much of this that I chuckled more than a few times while reading). Plus, the few twists at the end hurt like a b****, but it was worth it. I cannot believe I have to wait another whole year for the next book. Especially with that ending!
These are all my OTPs for Lady Midnight!
Emma + Julian
Mark + Kieran
Ty + Kit (They may not have talked much but I SWEAR I saw something between these two, so I’m going for it!)
Cristina + Diego
“By the Angel, I need coffee.”
And if there were two things he believed were limitless, it was love and imagination
“If my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.”
“The children could set themselves on fire.”
“There is a difference between having your heart break and your soul shatter.”
He would make sure they never missed what they didn’t have; he would love them enough to make up for everything they’d lost.
“As long as there is love and memory, there is no true death.”
“The choices we make, make us.”