Monday, October 23, 2017

All Things Halloween Review - Lady Midnight

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, # 1)

By: Cassandra Clare

Publication: March 8th 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

786 pages

Genre: Young Adult (YA), Fantasy, Paranormal

Source: Borrowed from Holly

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Goodreads description--Los Angeles. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to to discovering exactly what it was that killed her parents and getting her revenge.

Raised in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian Blackthorn. A series of murders in the city catch her attention — they seem to have the same characteristics as the deaths of her parents. Could the murderer be the same person? And her attention isn’t the only one caught: someone has been murdering Downworlders as well. The Fair Folk make a deal with the Institute: if the Blackthorns and Emma will investigate the killings, they’ll return Mark Blackthorn to his home. The catch: they have only two weeks to find the killers. Otherwise it’s open war between faeries and Nephilim.

The Shadowhunters of the Institute must race against time to catch the killers, even as they begin to suspect the involvement of those closest to them. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.

I've enjoyed Cassandra Clare's books in the past, but I have to say that they haven't all be hits out of the park for me. While I really enjoyed the first three in The Mortal Instruments series, I struggled with book 4, City of Fallen Angels. The next two in the series were good overall. Then I felt like Clockwork Angel had a slow start and followed too closely the pattern set by The Mortal Instruments. Thankfully, the remaining books in The Infernal Devices series drifted off the pattern I was worried about. While I loved Clockwork Prince, I did feel a little let down by Clockwork Princess. I felt like there were a few things that were cop-outs. And so I say all of that to say that I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Lady Midnight.

Yet the description pulled me in with the forbidden love relationship between Emma and her parabatai, Julian. Who doesn't love a good forbidden love relationship? And to be honest, I feel like the description is a bit misleading because Emma doesn't seem as aware of her feelings as Julian does. Because Cassandra Clare writes for so many different viewpoints in her books, you never know who will be narrating and so we get more insight into Julian in this area which wasn't what I expected at all based on the description. Of course, this was the aspect of Lady Midnight that I was most excited about, and it was the aspect that kept me reading to find out what was going to happen. It was also the part that let me down the most in the end. Although, I can't discuss why because of spoilers. Sigh.

Of course, there's also the mystery and adventure that Emma and crew have to figure out. Who is killing faeries (and sometimes mundanes) and leaving them with the same markings that Emma's parents were left with when they were murdered? Emma wants revenge so badly. And if she can just figure out who is doing this then she can have it. Cassandra Clare always does a job well done piecing together this aspect of her stories. There are clues that have you questioning the loyalty of several central characters. Although, I feel like I saw the big baddie coming based off a few things I picked up on that I don't think would be out of the question for most people to have picked up on as well. But there are always pieces of the puzzle that aren't revealed until...well they are revealed.

The cast of characters is vast. The Blackthorns: Julian, Mark, Livie, Ty, Dru, and Uncle Arthur. Each has a distinct personality although Dru did seem to be left out of the personality department if anyone was. Maybe we'll get more from her in the future. Emma of course. Cristina (a recent addition of the LA Institute). Malcolm (High Warlock of LA), Diana (tutor for the Institute) and a few stragglers: Johnny Rook, Kit, Diego, Kieran. Each is well defined. Some have secrets we still haven't uncovered. Some have played their parts and likely won't be seen again. And some are just getting started.

Favorite quotes:

-"Love means you see someone. That's all. ... 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."

-"Emma is my parabatai," he said. "If you ever speak to her like that again, there will be blood on the floor of the Sanctuary, and I do not care if they put me to death for it."

-...the intractable certainty that no matter how many demons she had killed that night, her nerve had failed her when she needed it most.

-"No one is ever the villain of their own story."

-"The choices we make, make us."

I do have to say that yet again, I worried that Lady Midnight (and The Dark Artifices) was following a very similar pattern to The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices. I don't want to spoil anything here, but I'll just put a few equations out there for you to consider. Emma + Julian = Clary + Jace; Mark + Kieran = Alec + Magnus; Emma + Julian + Mark = Clary + Jace + Simon = Tessa + Will + Jem; Diana + Malcolm = Hodge; Arthur = Henry; Tavvy = Max. I feel like I could go on, but maybe I'll stop here feeling like I've made my point. Obviously, there are some differences to each of these equations, but again, I'm not discussing them to prevent spoilers. I also want to say in regards to things that I feel are repetitive between each of the series is that I feel like Cassandra Clare really pushes the LGBTQ agenda. There's Alec (gay) and Magnus (bi-sexual) in The Mortal Instruments. We're also introduced to Helen and Aline in that series (both gay). And although neither are really present in Lady Midnight because of the relation of Helen (a Blackthorn sister), both are spoken of repeatedly. Of course Magnus from TMI was also present in TDA. And if I remember correctly, Woolsey Scott was also gay from that series. And now we've got Mark (bi-sexual) and Kieran (gay). It just feels like too much to me, and the description between Mark and Kieran was upped compared to Magnus and Alec.

Mentioning all of these past characters reminds me that most of them were present, seen, or at least mentioned in Lady Midnight. Clary, Jace, Magnus, Alec, Robert Lightwood, Jem, Tessa, Simon, Isabelle, Church. I appreciated the glimpses of them. A few times it felt like fan service to have them mentioned or present, and other times it felt genuine to the story for me. It's funny to me how Jace is talked about being the "Shadowhunter of his generation" when he's really only 5 years older than Emma and Julian. It doesn't seem like much of a generation gap to me.

One thing that I appreciated Cassandra Clare touching on is how ancient Greek used multiple words for love. Agape for unconditional, God-like love, philia for friendship love, eros for romantic love, etc. And I think this is something that the Greeks had correctly that we don't. We use one word for love. And so when we're talking about friendship love we might accidentally apply some romantic love characteristics to it. More specifically, we say things like "love is the most important thing" and we think that means eros...romantic love...finding someone who you are "in love" with and making that work...but that's not true at all. Agape could be considered "the most important thing" but not eros. Perhaps this needs to be thought out more and presented in a Discussions Only We Know post. While I appreciated Cassandra Clare mentioning these different kinds of love, I don't feel like she or her characters have the right priority when it comes to this. (Direct quote from Lady Midnight: "There is nothing more important than love. And no law higher.") Finding eros isn't the most important thing. It isn't the be all end all. Agape on the other that's different.

To be honest, things were bee-bopping along for me in Lady Midnight just fine until the end. I had a few issues that I knew I would mention in this review, like the repetitive themes and patterns that I've struggled with in Cassandra Clare's work. I also knew I would talk about the different kinds of love. But other than that, things were pretty good. Until the end. Until the "cliffhanger" (of sorts) that actually had me thinking that I don't want to read Lord of Shadows. I mean I do. I will. But at this point, I'm not excited about it. I'm not looking forward to it. I'm dreading it. And I honestly hate feeling this way about a book that I want to be excited about and anticipate diving into. And this feeling is entirely based off the end of Lady Midnight. Cassandra Clare has done this to me before so I don't know why I'm surprised. I'll get to Lord of Shadows eventually, but don't expect it to be one that I pick up to read as soon as it is released. Lady Midnight gets 4 Stars. Have you read Lady Midnight? What did you think? Let me know!

This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.

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