Book Reviews · Original Posts

Book Review: Lady Midnight

lady midnight

 Before I begin my review of Lady Midnight, I think all of you should understand where I’m coming from.

Cassandra Clare is my all-time favorite author. As a massive bibliophile, that’s a huge statement. Clare is to me what J.K. Rowling is to the rest of my generation. Not that I don’t love Rowling, because I do, but I was so late to the Harry Potter train that it hasn’t had nearly the impact on me that Cassandra Clare’s works have had. I have been a huge reader ever since I can remember (in fact, I cannot remember a time where I could not read by myself), but when I first read City of Bones in middle school, I was captivated in a way I hadn’t been before. Cassandra Clare uses language in such a beautiful way, with such intense characters and awesome world building. I remember feeling a little more grown up reading City of Bones, but also in awe of Clare’s themes and her complete mastery of words and storytelling. As an author, my ultimate goal is to write a huge, all-encompassing series that inspires in others the feelings I have when I read Cassandra Clare’s work.

That being said, I was HUGELY excited for Lady Midnight. I enjoyed Emma’s chapters in City of Heavenly Fire, and have really looked forward to seeing how Clare was going to combine characters from two previous series and yet create a distinct cast of characters that captivated her loyal audience as much as the casts of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices have captivated us. If you haven’t read either of Clare’s earlier series, stop reading now! Go back and start at the beginning of this epic journey. There are such important lessons to be learned along a crazy ride with some of my all-time favorite characters. You can read the first one hundred pages of City of Bones here. After that, I would read City of Ashes and City of Glass. At this point, stop and read The Infernal Devices (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess) before finishing The Mortal Instruments. It seems weird, but other fans will tell you that the last half of The Mortal Instruments (particularly the last two books) are so much more fun if you have already read The Infernal Devices. (Also, City of Heavenly Fire kinda spoils Clockwork Princess). If you’re not totally done with the two series, don’t read the rest of this review until you are! It will not be spoiler-free from Clare’s other work.

Okay, let’s do this! Here’s the summary of Lady Midnight from Goodreads:

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

Heartrending? THIS BOOK SHATTERED ME. It reinforced everything I love about Cassandra  Clare. Her writing is gorgeous. The descriptions are spot-on, and there are so many quotable moments that will stay with me forever. Like this one:

“If there is one thing I have learned in my life, and I grant I have not learned much, it is this: Neither Fair Folk nor mortals know what love is or is not. No one does.”

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

I literally made so many highlights on my Kindle that I can’t find a single passage I want. That’s how much gorgeousness there is.

As far as actual plot goes, Lady Midnight left me gasping. It was so wonderfully complicated and unexpected. There are multiple plot lines going on here, both personally and in terms of overlying storyline, and they all tied together at the end in a way that shocked me viscerally with its genius. Let me say this: Julian’s got A TON on his plate, every one of his siblings’ personal conflicts is fleshed out well, Emma is fighting to stay afloat, and Cristina has got major backstory. Plus, you know, there are murders. Which need to solved. While everything else goes on.

I think what makes Lady Midnight such classic Cassandra Clare and yet so wonderful and unique is the cast of characters. Clare’s always been famous for them. Lady Midnight, however, contains an unprecedented number of characters, both new and old, all as unique and wonderful as Will Herondale (who is my standard in these things). Among returning old characters are what I call the “Core Six” from The Mortal Instruments, as well as our two surviving Infernal Devices characters. One of our favorite couples has an engagement party in this book, and another has adopted a child! Their canon happiness makes me smile.

Meanwhile- new characters! Minor ones include Diana Wrayburn (who appeared in City of Heavenly Fire, but with an even smaller part than she had here). Diana was the most mysterious character, despite her presence as a major adult figure- their tutor. I couldn’t get a read on her at all. Which Clare, of course, intended. I can’t wait to see the reasons for this explored in the next book!  Also, warlock Malcolm Fade makes a major appearance. I really enjoyed his character! He was very dynamic and a major contributor to both character growth and plot lines. Emma’s sometimes-boyfriend Cameron Ashdown is around a bit. He’s annoying, but that’s also intentional. Johnny Rook and his son Kit are new and fascinating! Don’t ever count them out, let me tell you. They’re tricky and very important, much more than they first seem to be. Kit actually narrates the prologue.

More important characters are Arthur Blackthorn, Julian’s uncle who runs the Institute. His eccentricities are another great avenue for Clare to explore that I can’t wait to see developed! Cristina Rosales is an AMAZING character! I loved her strength and her friendship with Emma. Her perspective and influence keeps the Institute balanced amidst the craziness, and she’s a good non-Blackthorn for Emma:

“Cristina had always thought Emma fought for her parabatai and for revenge, while she fought for family and faith. But maybe it was all the same thing: maybe it was all love, in the end.”

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

All the Blackthorns are great! Theirs is a Shadowhunter family that has thus far only been explored in passing, but Clare made it so rich with history and depth! Octavius, “Tavvy” is the youngest at seven, followed by thirteen year-old Drusilla. I really identified with Dru. She has a personal issue that I really hope Clare explores further in the rest of the series, because it’s super important to be aware of with real people too, not just fictional ones. Ty and Livvy, the fifteen year-old twins, are really well done characters. Livvy is girly and romantic, but so strong, and her bond with Ty is so special. Ty is a really well-written character, because Clare so accurately explores a different way of processing the world through him, and both how he and the people around him handle his very obvious differences with the rest of the world. I love Ty! Mark is reintroduced into the story by the faeries for leverage, and his character is also brilliantly done. His story examines so well how we adapt to harshness and what it takes to come back to one’s family.

Everything else in Lady Midnight pales in comparison to Emma, Julian, and their relationship. It is so beautiful, and yet so painful. It’s exquisite, in every sense of the word.  Emma is wonderful, a driven warrior who hasn’t lost her girlishness either. She keeps a bit separate from the Blackthorns and has such a well-developed sense of herself! She narrates the largest portion of the book (I think?). Other narrators are Julian (who narrates surprisingly little of the story), Cristina, Mark, and Kit. Because Emma narrates so much, and so much of what she notices is about Julian, I have a much better sense of him than I do of her (though I do understand her). Julian is probably in my top 5 all-time favorite characters. He is so complex and developed and loving and hard and soft and gentle and a lover and a fighter and a parent and a brother and it is amazing.  His is a guarded heart, but it’s well worth taking the time to look inside.

Their relationship really is the heart and soul of this story, and I can see it being the heart and soul of this series. Never have I seen such a love full of understanding and complete, utter devotion to the other person and their wellbeing. Clare writes them beautifully, encapsulating everything they mean to each other as parabatai and lifelong friends. Also, well.. they’re perfect. In every sense of the term. I’ll just leave it at that. Let me give some examples:

Their banter:

“‘You’re too skinny,’ she said as brightly as she could. ‘Too much coffee, not enough pancakes.’

‘I hope they put that on my tombstone.'”

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Their devotion:

“’You don’t have to do this for me,’ Emma was saying, softly but earnestly, in a voice Cristina had never heard her use before.
‘I think I do,’ said Julian. ‘I think I remember making a vow to that effect.’
”Whither thou goest, I will go, whatever stupid thing you do, I will do also?” Emma said. ‘Was that the vow?’

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Emma in Julian’s eyes:

“‘I was thinking about painting you. Painting your hair. The way I’d have to use titanium white to get the color right, the way it catches light and almost glows. But that wouldn’t work, would it? It’s not all one color, your hair, it’s not just gold: It’s amber and tawny and caramel and wheat and honey.'”

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Julian in Emma’s eyes:

“They were Julian’s hands. They were hands that painted and fought; they had never failed him. In that way they were beautiful.”

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

The twists are great, both in their relationship and the plot in general. One of the twists at the very end is semi-reminiscent of one of the key plot points in the Infernal Devices, but the motivations and build-up are different enough that I forgave it almost immediately.

Overall: INFINITY STARS!! I LOVE THIS BOOK! I’m actually going to immediately re-read it, I think, because it’s a really long time until the next one. This is currently my second favorite Cassandra Clare novel, only beaten by Clockwork Princess.

Has anyone else finished yet? Please tell me what you think!


5 thoughts on “Book Review: Lady Midnight

  1. I ABSOLUTELY ADORED LADY MIDNIGHT. I’ve also been a fan of Clare’s works since middle school. She is definitely my favorite author of all time. The way she lets us see into the downworld makes me wish it was real, even if many of the downworlders are terrifying. This book is amazing and I will be eternally grateful to Cassandra Clare for writing this astounding universe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ACH LADY MIDNIGHT! I LOVED it. It is fun to imagine that the Shadow World is real, though it would be very dangerous for the rest of us if it were! I can’t wait for the next book!


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