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