Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices)
Fans of bestselling author Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices will not be disappointed by this first book in a new series. Lady Midnight: The Dark Artifices is a Shadowhunters novel and picks up where City of Heavenly Fire left off. Shadowhunters, as loyal readers will recall, are the half angel/half human race known as Nephilim, appointed by the Angel Raziel to watch over and control the demons and supernatural creatures that live in our world.
The youngest Shadowhunters—those who survived the epic Dark War between the Nephilim and Sebastian Morgenstern’s army of Endarkened warriers that ended City of Heavenly Fire—are now grown up and living in the Shadowhunters’ glamored Institute perched in the hills above Los Angeles.
Emma Carstairs has vowed to avenge her parents’ deaths once she discovers their killer. Julian Blackthorn, Emma’s parabatai (a partner bond stronger than marriage), struggles to raise his parentless younger siblings. And from the earliest pages, we watch Emma and Julian work to conceal from one another (and others) the fact that they’re falling in love despite it being prohibited by the Clave. Parabatai may love one another—a fact that’s important to their survival—but they may not be in love.
All the young Shadowhunters at the Institute spend their days in training, learning to use the specialized weapons the Nephilim always carry. For despite the Cold Peace—the uneasy truce with the faeries of the Unseelie Court that ended the Dark War—danger is around every corner.
Emma visits the forbidden Shadow Market and learns of a demonic plot that leaves its murdered victims with ancient unknown markings like the ones left on her parents. She learns also that the bodies of mundanes (normal humans) and fey alike are being left at ley lines in the region. Emma resolves to solve the mystery, hoping it will lead to her parents’ killers.
Soon a faerie delegation visits the Institute with a proposition. The faeries are not happy that their kind being murdered; they need the Shadowhunters to help find the person (or demon) responsible. Because the faeries betrayed the Shadowhunters in the Dark War, the severe provisions of the Cold Peace ban such meetings.
But the faerie leader brings with him something of value to trade: Mark Blackthorn. The Shadowhunters cannot refuse the meeting. The faeries took Julian’s older brother and forced him to join the Wild Hunt, a group of rogue faeries who spread chaos and death among mundanes, stealing their treasure to pay tribute to the fey Court. From Mark’s point of view, he’s been lost among the faeries for many years; in real time it’s five years.
The faeries promise if the Shadowhunters—with Mark’s help—discover who or what is killing other fey, they’ll allow Mark to stay with his family or to return to the Wild Hunt as he chooses. Even though Mark slowly overcomes his faerie-induced paranoid hallucinations and rejoins his family, a powerful love calls him back to the Wild Hunt. His decision to stay or return is uncertain.
This book has less action than other Shadowhunter stories, but emotions and motivations run deeper. Complex relationships ring true. Ms. Clare populates her story with new characters: Christina and Diego; Kit and his dad, Johnny Rook; Wren and Cameron. Female characters are not only as powerful as their male counterparts, often they are stronger in every way.
Unlike some, Cassandra Clare’s novels keep getting better. References to previous stories satisfy the faithful reader who nods to herself and thinks, “Yes, I remember that.” Helpful warlocks. Evil faeries. Grotesque demons. Courageous Shadowhunters. Magical runes. Necromancy. Blades and swords with names and powers of their own. The language is lyrical, readily enticing readers into the glamored world of the Shadowhunters and Downworlders. Even after completing this lengthy novel, readers will eagerly await the next one, hoping it is just as long and just as lovely.