Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been desperately trying to get to this book for a while, I have pretty much marathon-ed The Mortal Instruments over the past 3 months because there have been so many wonderful reviews about this, the first book in Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices trilogy. At times during The Mortal Instruments I would struggle a little and falter but the fact that I knew that due to spoiler reasons I had to finish the series before picking up Lady Midnight kept me focused and kept me moving forward.

Eventually I was able to dive into this book and it is a very substantial book at 646 pages which means it’s not the the faint hearted reader. It is one you need to commit yourself to and even more so because it is full of new characters and places that we haven’t encountered in the Shadowhunter world before so it takes a little time to find your bearings and get used to the new setting of Los Angeles and the different members of the Blackthorn family.

We met the Blackthorns and their friend Emma Carstairs in City of Heavenly Fire and it is to them we return in Lady Midnight. It is 5 years after the end of City of Heavenly Fire and we are in the Los Angeles institute where they live under the guardianship of Arthur Blackthorn, or so it would appear. Instead, realistically, the institute is being run by Julian Blackthorn who at the tender age of 17 is trying to raise his 4 siblings alone and stop anyone in Idris from finding out about the mental illness which has plagued his uncle for years. He is scared that if anyone finds out he and his siblings will be separated and he will be torn apart from his parabatai Emma.

Emma is still trying to come to term with the death of her parents 5 years before and when she finds out that murders have been occurring in Los Angeles which bear an uncanny resemblance to their deaths she now feels they are proof that something other than Sebastian Morgernstern was responsible for their deaths and so she begins investigating even though it will involve dealing with the Fae who are now outcasts from the Downworlder accords.

This book was good in the fact that it didn’t have to establish the Shadowhunter world to it’s readers, Clare doesn’t waste time laying out her world but instead makes the assumption that readers will be fairly familiar with everything. Instead we focus upon learning about our new heroes and heroines and their relationships with each other. Despite the fact we have a whole new cast doesn’t mean that Clare is forgetting about the characters she had us so cleverly fall in love with such as Magnus, Alec, Simon,Izzy and Jace and Clary. They all pop up in this book either directly or through references from other people and we are brought up to date with what has been happening in their lives in the last 5 years. I’m sure if I’d read Tales from The Shadowhunter Academy and The Bane Chronicles at this stage they would have covered what I’d missed but instead this book made me even more excited to get on and read those also.

I really loved the family dynamic in this book, the way they all fit together in their own crazy ways. I especially loved Ty, who Clare has written as a character who is very clearly on the Asperger’s/Autistic spectrum. He is wonderfully complex and yet really vulnerable and the different ways in which his big brother Julian adapts Shadowhunter life to take account of the things he finds uncomfortable or unsettling and allows him to focus his gifts was a really nice aspect of this book and made him one of my favourite characters.

One thing I found strange about this book is that I kept waiting for the action to kick in and suddenly I realised I was on about chapter 20 of 27 and it hadn’t ever really taken it to a new level, instead it kind of meandered on with a bit of a slow burn, building the suspense slowly and drawing us in bit by bit till we’ve read the nearly the whole book before we realise it. I am happy to say that we have left enough loose ends to draw us towards Lord of Shadows in the very near future.

The book also does a very clever thing where it takes us to nearly the end before uncovering a very big twist via two very beloved characters from The Infernal Devices, Jem and Tessa. It pulls us back to the wonderful characters and old Shadowhunters we’ve loved from that series also and links together all 3 series nicely. It means that we can follow them all into the next book and gives us a great incentive to keep reading.

I really enjoyed Lady Midnight, perhaps not as much as I’d anticipated, if I’m honest I expected a tiny little bit more, hence my 4 star review. I liked it much more than some of the latter books in Mortal Instruments and found Emma and Julian much less annoying that Clary and Jace were at times. They are stronger characters to read about and much less teen angst ridden than their predecessors. That doesn’t mean that at points they don’t verge on the edge of tipping into that territory but the mystery around what would happen if they broke the law and admitted they are falling in love, the one thing forbidden by law for parabatai to do means that we are rooting for them, forbidden love is one of those tropes we all love.

I am excited to start Lord of Shadows soon and am really pleased to eventually be almost up to date with the Shadowhunter world.