I had been confused as to whether start another Cassandra Clare series for a while. I’d just finished the second half of TMI, and with the exception of City of Heavenly Fire, was rather disappointed. I was worried she was writing TDA just to milk out her success. Nevertheless, I tried it out, and to my surprise, I enjoyed Lady Midnight much more than TMI! Maybe not as much as TID, but we’ll see if that changes.
Summary: 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?
Story: 4/5: I loved the direction this took! I’m a big mystery fan, so I loved how deep down, Lasy Midnight is a mystery novel. I mean, it’s about Emma, Julian, Mark, and the rest of the Blackthorn family tracking down a murderer, possibly a serial killer. After reading this, I would like to see Clare try a pure mystery novel if she ever finishes writing about Shadowhunters.
Writing: 2.5/5: Clare’s writing has steadily improved since TMI. Yet I still can’t bring myself to like her writing style. It often feels like telling more than showing. Yet, as it is with other writers, I still love her books for the stories and characters, just not the writing.
Characters: 4.5/5: There were so many well written characters in here! While I have mixed feelings about Emma, I still feel as though she’s a better protagonist than Clary. (But Tessa is still my favorite). Emma could switch from being cool to frustrating, but we’ll see how it goes. Already, she’s more selfless than Clary ever was… Julian was also intriguing, as his devotion to both his family and Emma could be described as almost scary at times. He’s more morally gray; I have a feeling he may end up being more of an anti-hero. But the side characters were who stole the show: Mark was at once fun, charming, and sympathetic as the half faerie, half Nephilim who has no idea how much the human world has changed in five years. He can make you laugh and pull at your heartstrings. Christina is the kind, warm hearted best friend who has secrets of her own, Ty is the Shadowhunter who is autistic, and yet just as good a Shadowhunter, if not better in some areas, than anyone else. There are so many more characters, and I look forward to seeing them later.
Details: 4/5: This book is really detailed, especially in scenery and emotions. Clare writes emotions better than I can. But sometimes the details can be a little much and block the flow of the story. However, this is few and far between, so not terribly distracting.
World Building: 4.5/5: Since most, if not all of the readers of this book have read TMI or TID, Clare doesn’t spend too much time on the basics of Nephilim life. Instead, she goes deeper, into the works of their life that weren’t prevalent in the last series, such as how Nephilim treat Shadowhunters who are mentally ill or neurodivergent, and we learn more about the Parabatai bond than ever before.
- Touches on subjects that could be considered “taboo”: There’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and neurodivergence in our society. In TMI, Clare talked about social topics that are being much more accepted and taught about today, such as sexuality and race. But TDA takes into account subjects that have been acknowledged, but are somewhat avoided (and as someone who’s on the spectrum, I can say that autism is still not talked about a lot, or being given much representation, unlike sexuality and race). Arthur’s mental illness is treated as the sickness it is, and Julian even notes that Shadowhunters who are hurt physically are still treated as Nephilim, but if their sickness is in the mind, they aren’t, and how that’s a double standard. He also notes how Ty still sees the world he sees, but his mind is shaped differently, and that isn’t a bad thing. I dunno, it might be because I could relate so much to the struggles in this, but this resonated with me much more than TMI.
- Mystery: At its heart, beneath the romance and fantasy, Lady Midnight is a mystery book. And I am a sucker for good mysteries.
- Complex relationships: Somehow Clare was able to write romances that are even more complex than TID! That’s an accomplishment. But I’m not just talking about the romance; I’m talking platonic and familial. First, I love Emma and Christina’s friendship. It’s hard to find a solid female friendship, and this one was amazing. But the dynamic between all members of the Blackthorn family were amazing! They really did feel like a family.
- “Forbidden romance” trope: Don’t get me wrong, I loved hearing more about the Parabatai bond and why they can’t fall in love. But at the same time, Clare writes about forbidden love so much, it gets a little tiresome. Like, can’t a main Shadowhunter couple have their problems, but have them shown to be “normal” problems, like human romantic problems. It’d be an interesting contrast. The closest couple I can think of in the Shadowhunter Chronicles to be like that would be Gabriel and Cecily from TID, who were cute! I dunno, I just have mixed feelings on that.
- I don’t have a title for this, but I kind of wanted to hear more from Mark, Christina, and Julian’s point of view. I found that they were some of the more interesting and compelling characters in the story. Mark is incredibly sympathetic, yet humorous and complex. He has been estranged from humans for so long that he doesn’t quite understand them anymore. I thought his views were so interesting. And Christina seems like such a warm, kind person, but she has an intriguing backstory, and her own secrets. Plus, she and Mark both deal with their own love triangles. It’s complicated, but interesting. And Julian seems like he may be an antihero in the future; his devotion to his siblings and to Emma make him seem like a borderline yandere, as in, typically kind and caring, but really is passionate and a little scary at times.
- Sometimes overly detailed: there were times when the plot seemed to be still, stationary. Sometimes there was so much detail that even I thought, “Please, let’s get going again!” But overall this is my mildest complaint, as the slower parts were typically there to develop characters and their relationships.
Grade: 4.5/5. My complaints about this were very mild, and I can say with confidence that this was probably the strongest debut for a series Clare has written yet. I was utterly taken with the plot and characters, and I can’t wait to read Lord of Shadows.