Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare is the first in The Dark Artifices, a new Shadowhunters series set around the Shadowhunters Institute in LA. It focusses on Emma Carstairs and her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, characters introduced in City of Heavenly Fire, the final book in the Mortal Instruments series. This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and I LOVED it. The setup for Lady Midnight was one of the things I enjoyed most about City of Heavenly Fire and it more than lived up to its promise. I devoured this 700+ page book in less than a day.
What I liked
The characters. Although Emma is a smart, engaging kickass heroine, I found my sympathies being drawn more to Julian – his struggles and challenges spoke to me even more than Emma’s. I was also very interested that this time we meet some Shadowhunters who do not necessarily fit the mould of young teens, perfect in mind and body who embody the ideals of the Clave. Particularly interesting to me was Tiberius, who is clearly on the autism spectrum. I thought it was wonderful how he was shown to make a significant contribution to our protagonists’ quest even if it wasn’t always by going out and fighting demons. I am interested to see how the Clave tries to handle him in the future. We also have Mark Blackthorn, who, although technically a Shadowhunter has been strongly influenced by his time with the Fae. In both these cases we clearly see how Shadowhunter society in general is not very accepting of those who do not fit a specific mould.
The Law. The Law is a major theme in this book, specifically how to handle a law that seems harsh or unfair. This is symbolised by two Latin phrases “Sed lex, dura lex” – the Law is hard, but it is the Law – and “lex malla, lex nulla” – a bad law is no law at all. This refers mainly to the law against helping the Fair Folk, and this is used to hinder our protagonists in their quest. We see attempts to get around this law both by diplomatic means and then by less open methods. Of course this theme also applies to the law against parabatai falling in love, which is also a major issue for our protagonists. All in all, it didn’t leave me feeling very positive towards the Clave and Council. I look forward to seeing how Julian and Emma and their friends change their world for the better.
The world. I really don’t need to say much here. Clare’s world is absolutely phenomenal and fascinating. What was particularly interesting this time was seeing a post Dark War world. The struggle with Sebastian has left its mark and even five years later, the results can still be seen. We learn of new, elite Shadowhunters and processes that have been put in place as a result of the War – processes that aren’t necessarily for the best. I’m not sure if Clare was aiming to reflect our modern post 9/11 world in this, but that is certainly what it made me think of.
What I didn’t like
Bland, boring antagonist. I wasn’t especially engaged by the antagonist – however, I suspect that the real villain of the piece was intended to be the rigid, inflexible attitude of those in charge of the Shadowhunters and the climate of fear that seems pervasive. I would imagine we’ll see our heroes come into direct conflict with that later on in the series.
I gave Lady Midnight five stars out of five – when is the next book due out?