Cassandra Clare's long awaited Queen of Air & Darkness misses the mark for me

December 19, 2018

Queen of Air & Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3) by Cassandra Clare

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars




When I saw the new Cassandra Clare book the first thing I thought was "Wow, it's massive", it would appear that Clare is trying to outdo herself with each subsequent instalment in The Dark Artifices series and at nearly 900 pages this one is a hefty undertaking for any reader. Following up from Books 1 and 2 in this series, Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows this book picks up immediately after the end of Book 2 and the impact of the ending of that book which left many readers shocked and heartbroken. 

From there we follow Julian and Emma, our main protagonists for this series as they cope with the resulting chaos and try to help all the different children of the Blackthorn family to cope. Alongside this we have their ongoing concern about the growing love for each other and how this is going to drive them to evil as they are sworn parabatai and how it is forbidden for parabatai to fall in love. What is great about this book is that right from the outset we have much more than just the Blackthorn family on the pages, we have Alec Lightwood, Magnus Bane, Gwyn and Diana, Kieran the son of the Unseelie King and all the characters we have come to know and love through this and the other Shadowhunters series'. It's a very collective book featuring everyone we've met so far and with the result a couple of times I had to go and google what exactly had happened in each characters storyarc up to this point just to make sure I had everyone straight. 

Initially I was really enjoying this book, I flew through the first few hundred pages and was pretty invested but then I began to tire a little. Why? Because, I really began to get frustrated with the number of pages that were dedicated to the same ongoing dramas. If we talked about Julian and Emma's love for each other and how they shouldn't be doing it and their parabatai bond once we did it a million times. Each chapter seemed to feature a segment where this was front and centre. Alongside this we had the Mark, Christina, Kieran love triangle/threesome where if we heard it from one of their perspectives we had to hear it from all, Mark talked to Christina, Christina talked to Kieran, Kieran talked to Mark and on and on and on it went going round in circles. Again this was featured so often my eyes began to glaze over. This repeating of plot points throughout the book added at least 400 pages and the further I read the more it annoyed me. 

As if this was not bad enough we then featured a section of the book where we reintroduced characters we thought had died books and books ago. Sebastian was back, I mean really did we need to revisit that old chestnut again? Mortal Instruments is most people's least favourite series and that's because Clare is meant to have grown since then and I was not the biggest lover of this storyline first time around so why did I need to live it again? And mean Jace was back, from the time Sebastian had him under his control, again this was from books and books ago and now I felt we were just recycling plot points. 

And then we had the ending, the great showdown between the Unseelie army, the Cohort and our heroes. I was really into it and was quite engaged and then that thing happened with Emma and Julian, I'm not going to spoil but it just infuriated me. It was so much a recycling of how Clare always resolves complex battles. It's been done in Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices could we please not have found a slightly different way of winning the day? I hated it. Why can we not just have the Shadowhunters win through the wits, their friendships, politics and their alliance with the Downworlders instead of some cataclysmic thing happening to save their skin? And then the twist at the end, don't even make me go there, the ending of the Epilogue was not a "OMG" moment just a "Please not again!" one. 

All this said there were bits of this I loved. I loved the Kit storyline, I wanted so much more of that. We kept getting hints of it all the way through but we'd touch on it and we'd move on so fast. I wanted to really delve in there and find out more. We've been teased about this through all 3 books in this series so I felt a little cheated not to explore it more. I also loved the time we spent in the Unseelie court this felt like we could have explored it more, the politics, the fact of how Kieran was loved by his father's people whilst his brother was useless. This was another aspect I really enjoyed but it felt undersold. 

And then we come to Magnus. I love him so much. He is the only reason I am still reading these books. Each and every single time he's on the page it sparkles, he is vibrant and he's funny and he's honest and real and his story arc could be massive. He is the one factor that joins everyone together and he holds all the cards from the past and present. What kept me reading through all the mush in these books was Magnus. I cannot wait for The Red Scrolls of Magic and a book dedicated to Magnus and Alec. The ending of this book was so beautiful for Magnus and I really felt happy with where we went. 

I wanted so badly to love this book but of the series it felt the weakest link. I pray we are going to be taking a little break from Emma and Julian for now. Not sure I could face them again for another novel. I pray we focus moving forward on Magnus through the new trilogy dedicated to him and Alec and I am excited for the new historical Shadowhunter novel Chain of Gold which is due for release in late 2019 as surely if we go back in time we won't be able to feature some of the newer characters we have become so stuck with and can explore some new aspects of the world. 

Only a 3 out of 5 stars for me, I didn't love this one.

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