Lady Midnight is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s new Shadowhunter series, The Dark Artifices. While much longer in length than most of her other first novels, the length was required in order to introduce a fair number of characters adequately. While it is not necessary to have read either The Mortal Instruments series or The Infernal Devices series before reading Lady Midnight, I do highly recommend that if you have the chance to read them first it will make everything much more coherent.
Five years have passed since the Dark War between Shadowhunters and faeries. Emma Carstairs has spent those years training as a Shadowhunter – one of the best of her generation – and trying to find her parents’ killer. Having been orphaned during the Dark War, Emma resides in the Los Angeles Institute with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, and his family. Emma is a risk taker, going to the Shadow Market frequented by Downworlders despite having been told not to my her tutor, Diana Wrayburn, going on patrol with her friend Cristina Mendoza Rosales even if it is dangerous, and having temporary flings with fellow Shadowhunter Cameron Ashdown. But all that makes for a very determined young woman who will do almost anything to find the person who killed her parents, because she has never believed they were merely victims of the Dark War.
Julian, on the other hand, has spent the years being a parent to his four younger siblings, and secretly running the Institute due to the mental instability of his uncle, Arthur Blackthorn. He has grown into a person with a gentle but ruthless soul, an adept liar who is able to spin stories if it means protecting and keeping his family safe and together.
When a faerie convoy attempts to strike a bargain with the Shadowhunters to discover the ritualistic murderer of both mundanes and faeries, Emma and Julian are reluctant to help due to the terms of the Cold Peace. However, the fairies bring with them an incentive the Shadowhunters cannot refuse – the return of Julian’s older half-faerie brother Mark Blackthorn. Aided by Cristina and warlock Malcolm Fade, Emma and the Blackthorns attempt to unravel the mystery behind the murders in an attempt to keep Mark – and also finally discover who killed Emma’s parents and why.
But the murderer isn’t someone they suspect and the reason is not as simple as they thought. To complicate matters further, Emma and Julian find themselves falling in love, something that is expressly forbidden between parabatai though no one knows the reason why.
Lady Midnight sports a huge cast of characters. What sets it apart from other first novels is that each character is given the time to allow the reader to fully appreciate their individual traits. From the twins Livvy and Ty, to Dru and little Tavvy, Mark who is readjusting to Shadowhunter life, mysterious Diana who cares for the group but has her own secrets, sweet Cristina who is on her travel year from the Mexico City Institute, to Perfect Diego. We are also reintroduced to well-known and beloved characters (this is where reading the other series becomes beneficial): Clary and Jace, now New York Institute heads, the fan favorite warlock Magnus Bane (and just a glimpse of Alec), Inquisitor Robert Lightwood, and (my personal favorites) the nearly eternal lovers Jem Carstairs and Tessa Gray.
Lady Midnight is a solid first volume to a new trilogy, but like any good series it both answers questions and reveals new ones. Who is Lady Midnight and what does she want? What secrets does Diana carry? Will Emma and Julian be able to overcome their love for each other or the constrains of the parabatai bond? And if they can’t, will it doom them forever?
I am looking forward to not only the continuation of The Dark Artifices but also to Clare’s other series, The Last Hours, which returns to the 1800s and ties in the stories. Of course, that just means more Will, Jem, and Tessa and I am entirely okay with that.
My rating: 4.5/5