Tea & Book Chat: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (Dark Artifices #1)

Personal Thoughts:  If you watch my YouTube channel at all, you’ll know that I spent a lot of last year catching up on the extensive backlist of Cassandra Clare’s world of Shadowhunters in anticipation of Lady Midnight.  I thought I had been all caught up until Tale From the Shadowhunter Academy came out of seemingly nowhere and I begrudgingly read that one as well before finally reaching for the first Dark Artifices book.  I’ve had a rocky relationship with the Shadowhunters books (I didn’t love The Mortal Instruments until City of Heavenly Fire, I lived for The Infernal Devices, and the short stories are always hit or miss to me) but I’ve definitely found a new favorite in Lady Midnight.  I’m glad I’ll be all caught up for the release of Lord of Shadows because I have so many questions!

Plot Summary:  Lady Midnight takes place five years after the events of City of Heavenly Fire unfold at the Shadowhunter Institute in Los Angeles.  We meet the new cast of characters in CoHF, an endearing family of Blackthorns, some with ties to the fae, and the middle Blackthorn Julian’s sassy best friend Emma Carstairs.  Julian and Emma become parabati in the short stories preceding Lady Midnight and we find them on their home turf as mysterious murders start plaguing LA.  Emma has reason to believe that the recent murders are tied to that of her parents which occurred five years prior and were blamed on Sebastian but the Clave is uninterested in hearing any other theories so the gang takes it upon themselves to start investigating with an unlikely ally.

Critique:  GUSH. I loved Lady Midnight.  I am so happy that I read everything else prior to picking this one up because there are SO many references to earlier storylines, characters in the previous series and little Easter eggs that wouldn’t have meant anything to me had I not had that emotional attachment to their history.  Does Lady Midnight work as a standalone series? Yes, you do not *need* to read everything else but I would highly recommend it.  I cannot even express how much I love the Blackthorn family.  They are now second to only the Weasley’s in my heart.  Teenage Julian has spent his life from twelve years old and beyond acting as the father to all of his younger siblings and covering for his not-all-there uncle as head of the LA Institute.  He’s shouldered more responsibility than any young person should ever have to deal with and he handles everything with such a level head.  Emma is now my second favorite female in the Shadowhunter realm (Tessa holding the top spot).  Her love for Julian and her love for the kids she helped raise combined with her no-nonsense attitude is something to be admired.  Emma and Julian both do everything they can for the people they love and they’re completely in tune with each other, which is why in theory they would be the perfect parabati.  But, parabati falling in love with one another is strictly forbidden by Shadowhunter law with no explanation as to why (the law is hard but it is the law).  For a pair of teens who suffered a traumatic experience together, took on parental roles of Julian’s brother and sisters, and made a rash decision to become parabati so they would never be separated, you can bet there’s some major conflict as they start to discover the feelings they’ve been suppressing for each other.  Then there’s also the lovable Cristina, who is the Shadowhunter equivalent of studying abroad at the LA Institute while simultaneously running from a past that she’s not yet ready to discuss.  As with all Shadowhunter books, we also run into vampires, faeries, warlocks and more.  Part of what makes Lady Midnight stand out from the other sets of Shadowhunter stories is that Cassandra Clare doesn’t need to rebuild the world.  We’re all so familiar with it at this point that the main focus is on the characters and the story she’s crafting.  Plus, the character cameos from other series just sent my heart fluttering like mad!  I could go on and on but I’ll just say that I really loved this book and I have so many questions after everything that went down.  My conspiracy theories are running wild with me and I need Lord of Shadows in my life as soon as possible.

Do I Recommend?:  So much yes! I really really really recommend you make yourself push through all the previous books though.  I don’t think this one will resonate as much if you don’t have the emotional attachment to certain characters or the Shadowhunter lore to guide you through the current state of their world.

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read Clockwork Angel which is the first book in The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare is the second book in The Infernal Devices trilogy and it’s set at the Shadowhunter Academy in London many years prior to the events of The Mortal Instruments series.  Clockwork Prince picks up whereClockwork Angel leaves off and I have to say that I loved this second book even more than the first, despite all of the toying it did with my emotions.  Like, serious heart wrenching stuff. Also, to all those Will Herondale fangirls: I get it now.

Following the events of Clockwork Prince, Charlotte is threatened by her fellow Shadowhunters and she is given an ultimatum by the Clave to either find The Magister or uncover compelling information about his whereabouts within two weeks time or she’ll lose the institute to the Lightwoods.  So as I’m sure you can imagine, the stakes and stress levels are at an all time high for our characters.  I loved learning more about The Magister and his colored past in Clockwork Prince.  While I obviously hate him, he is my favorite type of villain to hate.  He’s calculated and patient which is an admirable combo when used for good but in him, I’m incredibly nervous.  Clockwork Prince also gives much more depth to its side characters, even those who may have seemed minor turn into much bigger players as the story plays out.  I can barely put into words how excited I felt while reading  Clockwork Prince and again, I’m just blown away by how Cassandra Clare got me so incredibly attached to these characters.

1

Okay, so it would be remiss to write this review without talking about the romance.  In Clockwork Angel I felt that my place on Team Jem was solidified by the story’s end but everything I thought I knew was basically tossed upside down in this second installment.  My ship has changed BUT I am still irrecoverably heartbroken over my feelings so I cannot even begin to place myself in Tessa’s headspace because if my insides are this torn, forget about Tessa’s.  The whole time she described her feelings I was nodding and being like “I know Tessa, I know.”  I need Clockwork Princess immediately because I NEED to know how this will be resolved.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m going to leave it at that.

Final Thoughts:  Clockwork Prince is the near-perfect follow up to Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.  This second piece of the story is a quick paced adventure that’ll have your heart racing and your emotions running rampid.  I will give you fair warning that upon finishing you will be unable to function until you can begin reading Clockwork Princess.  I honestly just want to talk about this book with everyone because I was blown away by the story, the character development and the Shadowhunter lore.  I honestly feel like this is a must read series.

Rating 6

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices #1)

I wasn’t planning on writing a full review for any of the books in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series (if I chose to continue reading after the first installment) but I wound up really loving the story so here we are!  I have lukewarm feelings at best for The Mortal Instruments, hence my hesitancy toward reading The Infernal Devices.  I like it enough that I want to finish The Mortal Instruments but I’ve never been DYING for the next book the way that many other people seem to be.  Luckily, I was told by Cassie that in order to read books 5-6 of The Mortal Instruments, I should read The Infernal Devices trilogy first or it would be completely spoiled in the remaining books.  I am so thankful that she told me because I honestly loved Clockwork Angel and I want to read that story for myself instead of hearing it through Jace / Clary and gang.  IF it had been spoiled, I would’ve never picked this one up.

Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel follows protagonist Tessa Gray who discovers she has a strange shape shifting ability after being kidnapped and trained by said kidnappers, the Dark Sisters.  The story takes place in 1878 London which is such a magical setting! It gave the story a very steampunk feel (especially when picturing Henry in his laboratory working on different inventions).  I took an immediate liking to the new (or rather old) band of Shadowhunters we meet in the London Institute but my favorite is the head, Charlotte.  Charlotte is running the school during a time when women are not even considered for such roles.  She’s a strong and independent person and she loves her husband despite his absentmindedness.  I admire her for putting trust in him when no one else does, even if the results are not always the desired outcomes.  I do have to say that I did not love Will Herondale the way everyone else seems to.  I’m assuming his character will mature over the next two books because quite frankly, he’s a bit of a jerk.  I do however love Jem! He’s so rational and his use of logic in every situation is to be admired.  My heart also breaks for him because of his past and I cannot wait for more of him in the next books.

Additionally, I found it really interesting to see more of the Clave and learn more about their inner workings.  And it was really exciting to recognize so many members as descendants of current Clave members.  And speaking of connections between characters,  I squealed when Magnus Bane appeared! He’s my favorite character from The Mortal Instruments and it completely makes sense for the High Warlock of Brooklyn to have been around during the 1800’s but I wasn’t expecting him to appear in London!  I also enjoyed seeing Camille and her relationship with the Clave.  I’m very curious to learn more about Tessa’s necklace and to see more of the clockwork creatures we meet in book one.  Overall, I’m very pleased that I decided not to skip over this prequel.  I definitely love it more than The Mortal Instruments and it’s only been one book!

Rating 5

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Timesbestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them… (via Goodreads)

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Kristin