Book: Lady Midnight
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Published: 2016, Margaret K. McElderry Books
In a kingdom by the sea…
In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.
A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.
Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.
I have a very vivid memory, from years ago, when I made my parents drive me to the bookstore the day City of Glass came out. As I walked out of the store, two girls a few years older than me sat at a small table eating cinnabons (the cinnabon store was appropriately placed next to the bookstore), and they spotted me holding the book fast against my chest, and then they smiled, as one said “she’s here for the same reason we are” and then I realized that there were two copies of the book on the table beside the cinnabons, and I remember feeling a swell of pride sweep through me as I trudged on after my parents, who were sick of bookstores and me talking endlessly about reading, and for a moment, I felt like I was a part of something.
That’s what the Shadowhunter series was to me. It was my first love of YA, and I’ll always remember TMI and TID fondly because of that. And that day that I overheard the girls with the cinnabons, I felt like reading could make me a part of a community, and I will always be grateful for that, too.
But it’s different to return to a world after years have passed, with new characters, a new story, even a new setting, but the same writing. I’m not going to lie, not much has changed about Cassie Clare’s writing since TMI. It was once the standard that I held every other book to, but that just isn’t the case anymore.
That’s the problem with this book – it’s not actually the book, it’s me that’s changed. If it had been five years ago, I probably would have given it five stars. Now, not so much.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the Shadowhunter world, and always will. But it seems as if there’s some kind of formula that Cassie has come up with to write a sure-fire bestselling series, and it’s this:
- Plan a trilogy, plan to stretch out a story that could have easily been one book of 650+ pages into three books that will probably span 1800+ pages (this feels like a money grab to me)
- Infodump the first four chapters (I know it’s meant to be accessible to people who haven’t read TMI or TID, but it could have been handled more elegantly)
- Add forbidden love (bonus points if there’s a love triangle)
- Add at least one person who knows nothing about the super secret fantasy world
- Add endless descriptions of physical features, like eyes and hair (and somehow go against one of the biggest rules of writing = show, don’t tell)
- Add demons, and stir
To me, these were some of the main things wrong with the book. This review will not be spoilery, though, so I won’t state specifics. It just seems to me, at this point, three series in, like she’s repeating these things because they’ve been successful in the past. And that makes it seem fake. I was too aware of that to be completely absorbed in the story.
That said, I did enjoy it. It’s a quick read (for all its pages) and although I found it hard to get into at first, there were some shining moments.
Julian was an incredible character. If Emma had been as complex as him, I think it would have been a better story overall. He was controversial, which I love. The way he cared for his family made my heart beat a little faster, like it did with the Hunger Games the moment Katniss volunteers for her sister. I could only hope I would be brave enough to be that kind of older sibling. And although I do occasionally like a brooding male lead, I was glad he wasn’t that.
FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS THAT PASS THE BECHDEL TEST/DON’T HAVE TO TURN INTO LOVE TRIANGLES!!!!! I was so afraid there would be love triangles in this book. So. Afraid. What happened was better than I expected, and I’m happy about that.
Also, I won’t lie, my favourite romantic trope is the best-friends to lovers trope, so I was of course rooting for Emma and Julian (I don’t think this is spoilery because it’s basically in the blurb), though at times I wanted to shake them. There’s definitely a lot of drama in this book that did not need to happen.
Something else about Cassie’s books is that they’re filled with great one-liner quotes. The overall writing might not be the best I’ve ever read, but I know to look out for these quotes. My favourite was “The choices we make, make us”. I just know these will be set against graphics on tumblr without even looking.
One of the last things I’d like to say about this book is that although it was incredibly long (needlessly so) I felt like the majority of the characters weren’t developed enough. I wanted more POV chapters from the kids, from Keiran, from Diana. I wanted at least a line of dialogue from Helen (mad face). Instead we got characters from past series showing up, which was fine, but still didn’t quite settle well with me. I want them left alone. I want to know about the new characters. This feels like it goes back to the formula thing I was talking about – this book might be too focused on intertwining TMI and TID than creating a new story. I think that was what disappointed me the most.
Anyway. Can you tell I’m conflicted?
All that said, it may have its flaws, but I would recommend Lady Midnight for people who loved TMI and TID like I did, or those who just need to disappear for a few days into an easy read. I know I did.