Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare is her most recent novel set in the Shadowhunter world, released March 8, 2016.
* Most of what your about to read is what you’ll learn in the first chapter or the back of the book. *
Lady Midnight is set in Los Angeles five years after the Dark War that Sebastian and some faeries waged against Jace, Clary and the other Shadowhunters. Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn were orphaned and are living at the LA Institute. Julian is an orphan after he lost his parents because of the Dark War. The Clave blamed the death’s of Emma’s parents on Sebastian as well, but she never believed that and swore to find revenge on the person who really killed them. The Cold Peace, which affects faeries and Julians half-Shadowhunter half-faerie siblings, Mark and Helen, complicates matters further. That’s sort of the staging ground for Lady Midnight coupled with the fact that people have started to die again in the same way that Emma’s parents die. Thus, Emma and Julian begin to investigate these deaths in an effort to solve the murders and catch the killer.
I must admit, I love Cassandra Clare’s books. They’re far from perfect but they’re engaging and I love the Shadowhunter world; the social rules are blatantly imperfect and the world is full of fantasy (demon hunting Shadowhunters, faeries, magic-wielding warlocks, werewolves…). Emma and Julian are two characters who had to become adult-like before they were ready to and that’s much different than Clary, the last protagonist, who’s mom was only out of the picture for a few months (a year maybe). It was interesting to sort of watch them try to temper each other’s personalities. They’re parabatai and clearly have a thing for each other (it’s painfully obvious). I am interested in how Cassandra Clare will handle that because it’s illegal for parabatai’s to be in love but I am familiar enough with her writing to know that she’ll work in some loop hole.
Where Cassandra Clare falls short in her writing is with how she handles physical beauty and thinness. I don’t know if it is because Cassandra is less-than-thin herself, so she exemplifies an insecurity by writing her characters in her opposite or if there is another reason for how she handles it. Regardless of the reason, it’s annoying. *spoilers here* For example, there is a scene where Julian is basically bleeding to death and, oh yeah, Cassandra writes in great detail about how flat and hard Julian’s abs are and how there are these deep lines in his six pack. Like, what? Why? It was a totally unnecessary description given the context of the scene. The only point of the description was like “hm, well his shirt is off so let’s just get side tracked here.” Yes, maybe she was trying to point out how Emma is starting to notice Julian in ways she hasn’t before, but that’s not how it came out; it came out as her typical need to describe flat, hard stomachs. Personally, I would worry that this preoccupation of hers might negatively affect young readers who are easily influenced. I don’t want young people to get this idea that that’s a major physical ideal just because an author they admired talked about it all the time. Physical appearance can be talked about but I wish she wouldn’t do it in a way that emulates thin, wiry and muscular frames above all else because *realism*; it’s such a limited view of the human figure. Making one character shorter or taller doesn’t count for demonstrating diverse human bodies, especially not when the she made it clear that the only character who was described as having a different body type was insecure about it, thus casting it in a negative light. Clearly, I have strong feelings about this. Not everyone will take an annoyance to this particular depiction, and that to is ok.
All in all, I really enjoyed Lady Midnight. I like how Cassandra handles humour, always with a note of sarcasm where called for, and I liked the characters. I am wondering if maybe we’ll see more of Jace, Clary and Magnus in the upcoming books. One thing I am also interested in is how Emma and Julian will be challenging some of the more ridiculous rules that the Shadowhunters have put upon their own people as well as Downworlders.
For those of you who are fans of Cassandra Clare, you should definitely consider this book. I think that people who are new to Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter world could probably put two and two together and still enjoy the book, but it would be really helpful to start with the Mortal Instruments books for the full picture on many references to Clary, Jace, Sebastian, the Dark War and so on.
To keep up to date on my book reviews, you can subscribe to my blog by email or through your WordPress account.