25494343Goodreads Summary: The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

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?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

Hi! Welcome to our first joint book talk, where we discuss a book we’ve both read. Today we’re going to be discussing the much awaited, eagerly anticipated Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare. We’ve got a non-spoiler section and a spoiler section for you and we dive into every aspect of the book!

Non-Spoiler Section

Initial reactions?

Lila: Of course, I loved it. It’s partly nostalgic for me, I’ve been reading The Shadowhunter Chronicles since I was 13, so there’s a lot of emotion tied up in it, haha. But, nostalgia aside, I did really enjoy Lady Midnight! We’ve gotten so many snippets so I feel like we’ve all been waiting for this forever and finally we get to fully meet these characters we’ve kind of half known for so long!

Claire: I definitely agree with the nostalgia aspect– it hit me the other day that I’ve been reading about the Shadowhunter world for five (!!) years now. And, as always, it’s an absolute pleasure to immerse myself into the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders. Reading this book was especially rewarding since I recently finished Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, which left me craving more information about Emma and the Blackthorns. Only the fact that I was mid-finals prevented me from reading this book in one sitting!

Book strengths?

L: Obviously the massive world is a huge plus–Cassandra Clare is one of the queens of world building, in my opinion. The huge cast of characters too was amazing–I feel like there’s a character for everyone (personally I really identified with Cristina). Speaking of characters, I particularly loved the diversity Clare brought to the table with the entire cast. We have a Hispanic character, a bisexual character, and an autistic character. I thought the diversity in her books has really been up with the times. It’s a changing world and Clare’s world reflects that fact.

I loved the relationship aspect of Lady Midnight. I think, at it’s heart, it’s a story that’s all about relationships–platonic, romantic, and familial–and what you would do or sacrifice for those relationships. That’s really beautiful and Clare wrote each relationship with care.

C: I’m with Lila on this one– I think Cassandra Clare listened to criticisms made in the past about representation in her work and really strived to create a cast of diverse, realistic characters. Not only that, but the wide array of relationships portrayed in this book struck me as being very honest. The Blackthorn family dynamics were incredibly nuanced and the love the siblings had for each other was evident in every interaction, even during fights.

One thing Clare did really well in this book was taking her already fleshed-out world and expanding it even more. In Lady Midnight we learn more about Downworlder society (especially Fae) and hear a bit about the Mexico City Institute. I have a hunch that within the next two books the world will only continue to grow.

How would you rate the overall plot of the book?

C: Something Clare excels at is interweaving various plots into one cohesive story. Her books are never about one thing, and Lady Midnight is no exception. There’s Emma’s vow to avenge her parent’s deaths, an ongoing hunt for a supernatural serial killer, nuanced politics between the Shadowhunters and the Fae, family drama, and (of course) forbidden love–and that’s just what’s revealed in the book jacket. Without being too spoilery, there’s an overarching motif that ties the story together in a really cool and unexpected way.

L: I think Claire is very right that Clare is very much a master at writing multi-plot stories that all eventually tie together perfectly. There’s so much going on in Lady Midnight, but it never felt like too much or got clunky. In fact, despite all of the wild going ons, Clare left our characters time to have a bit of down time. I think one of my favorite things was that most of the characters got their own plot, even if it was just small. I feel like the plot definitely will be evolving across the future books of The Dark Artifices, so I’m interested to see how that happens, but in terms of my feelings on Lady Midnight’s plot strictly, I thought it was well done. Very engaging and tight.

What did you think of the characters we were finally fully introduced to?

L: I fell in love with the characters–especially the Blackthorns! I’m really hoping to see more of the individual Blackthorns as the story progresses (especially as the younger Blackthorns are set to be the main characters of the upcoming The Wicked Powers)! I think this is the book with the largest beginning cast in The Shadowhunter Chronicles so far and I just loved everyone.

C: After first reading about Emma and the Blackthorns in City of Lost Souls and most recently in Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy, I was pretty desperate to read more about these characters by the time Lady Midnight was finally released. I definitely was not disappointed! Not only did I fall in love with Emma and the Blackthorns, but the new characters introduced in Lady Midnight were equally compelling. Cristina is easily a new favorite of mine, and I have a feeling a certain Fae character is going to have a very compelling story arc throughout The Dark Artifices.

Any weaknesses with the book?

C: While I love The Mortal Instruments and absolutely adore The Infernal Devices, I almost felt that there were too many old character appearances in Lady Midnight. It’s a treat getting snippets into the current lives of characters from the previous series, but I felt Lady Midnight would have been better without all the cameos (or at least with fewer of them).

Because there are so many character appearances in Lady Midnight, I don’t think it’s a book that you could read without first reading both The Mortal Instruments and (especially, for spoiler reasons) The Infernal Devices. While I get that these are all part of the same universe, and therefore none of these characters or stories exist within a bubble of their own respective series, reading 9 books in order to fully enjoy this one is a large commitment to ask of Clare’s readers.

Also, parts of Lady Midnight felt repetitive. Specifically, the forbidden romance aspect. So far it’s been a reappearing theme in each of Clare’s Shadowhunter series, and while she does an excellent job writing about star-crossed lovers, by the 10th book it’s a bit overdone. Not to say I don’t love the angst and turmoil caused by doomed romance (because I definitely do, I live for the angst), but I hope Clare branches out with The Last Hours and The Wicked Powers.

L: Oh, those are good points. I think for me, my major complaint was that the world didn’t feel fresh enough. The characters and world felt a little too familiar–which is understandable, given that this is the newest installment in a massive series. Still, I felt like even some of the characters were shadows of past characters. Like it was really easy to see Clary in Julian and Jace in Emma. And I think these characters really did deserve more of their own voice., because they are unique and different! That’s all I got for complaints, though. I think my quibble might be resolved as the series continues, though, so we’ll see.

Beware! Spoilers Ahead!

spoiler-warning

Who do you ship?

L: Ooooh! Definitely Emma and Julian (forbidden love–*swoon*)! But also Mark and Cristina. I ship them a lot, but with Kieran and perfect Diego and the ending of Lady Midnight, I’m worried that that ship is sinking (but they’d be so good together!!!!).

C: Oh Lila, you’ll hate me: I definitely ship Mark with Kieran. I think as they stand now, the relationship isn’t a healthy one: there’s too much resentment and hurt feelings for them to get back together now. But, I definitely think a redemption arc is in cards for Kieran! And then their love can thrive.

Also, I ship Julian with happiness. Please, Cassandra Clare, let him be happy! I know of the torture you plan for him in the next book and I do not approve!

L: Oh no! I don’t think we can be friends anymore!

C: 😥

On the subject of ships, there are two quick comments I’d like to make on Emma and Julian’s sex scene. First, and this is directed at the YA industry in general, but it irks me that sex is so circumlocuted when it is included in a YA novel. I’m not saying I want explicit rated-R smut–I definitely think there’s something to say about using metaphor to convey motion, feeling, and intimacy–but the scene between Emma and Julian was so vague that I wasn’t entirely sure they actually had sex until Julian mentioned contraception.

The second thing I was going to mention? No towel! No blanket! They are on the beach! Sand! Sand everywhere!

L: Bahahahahahah! Sand, lol! Well, apparently Clare released a more R-rated version of it on her blog.

C: I definitely read that, haha. A third thing: kicking off wet jeans is surely impossible, even for a runed Shadowhunter.

L: Hahahaha, I like how you knew where I was going with that one, lol.

What did you think of the ending?

C: Oh, that ending. Cassandra Clare always likes to end her books by knifing me in the heart. I’ve read some reviews and seen Emma get flak for her decision at the end and to that I say: it wasn’t much of a decision. By this point, Julian and Emma are mutually in love. Emma knows that to continue down this path would both drive them mad and destroy their family in the process, just as she knows that she cannot simply will herself to stop loving him. The only real choice she has is to try and stop Julian from loving her. I am dreading seeing Julian hurt in the next book once it’s revealed that Emma is dating Mark.

In that same vein, I am praying that Clare does not go with the “fake dating leads to love” trope with Mark, because I do not want to see that boy more broken than he already is. DID YOU HEAR THAT, CASSANDRA CLARE? (Please limit the pain within the Blackthorn family pretty pretty please with sugar on top.)

L: I think this book wrapped up pretty tightly, with only one or two loose strings. I’m unsure if we’ll be following the same murder mystery plotline throughout the next two books, though I doubt it. So it’ll be interesting to see where Clare takes it. Of course, as always, we’re left with cliffhanger relationships, so I want to see how those play out (I’m such a masochist apparently)! Of course, there’s the whole Annabel Blackthorn plotline opened up now and I’m really antsy to see how that turns out. Will she be evil? Will she help out the Blackthorns? WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!!!

C:  In that line of thought, I wonder if she will keep the poem-as-a-guide-for-plot thing she had going on in this book. It would be kind of cool, but I don’t know if it’d be feasible in the same way as it was in this one. At least, not without having some prophetic Downworlder Poet Laureate chilling out somewhere, guiding the history of poetry.

L: That’s a really interesting question and a good point! I know The Last Hours #1 is supposed to be a loose retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, so maybe she’s using retellings of classics as a theme?

C: Could be. I guess we’ll have to wait until April of next year to find out!

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