(The Dark Artifices - Book One)
by Cassandra Clare
'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.'
*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***
It's been nearly two years since we've had a new Shadowhunters novel and I was ready to get back to that world. That makes me laugh a bit because going way back to the beginning of the Shadowhunters books, it was a struggle for me to get into them. Now here I am, anxiously devouring this newest one. Although when I saw this was nearly 700 pages I was a little bummed. I don't like huge books.
I really enjoyed this one! I think for the first two-thirds or so this was my favorite of ALL the Shadowhunters books so far. The story shifts from the familiar New York institute to the Los Angeles institute where Emma and the Blackthorn family are based. We get to know some new characters along the way, including Cristina and Diego, who are Mexican Shadowhunters, and Malcom Fade, who is the High Warlock of L.A. and a sort of bumbling equivalent to Magnus Bane. This series follows Emma and Julian, but what really made this book interesting to me was the return of Mark, Julian's brother who had been taken by the Wild Hunt, which is part of the fairy world.
Emma is determined to figure out who killed her parents and why. She comes across some information in a place she shouldn't be, and that sets off the events of this story. It seems there have been more murders lately, similar to what had happened to her parents. It has to be related, right?! And she's determined to solve this case. Since events from the last Shadowhunters book (City of Heavenly Fire) have left relations between the Shadowhunters and the fairies quite strained, Emma would be in trouble if the Clave (Shadowhunters government) found out what she was doing. The fairies work out a shaky deal with Emma and Julian. They return stolen brother Mark to offer assistance in the investigation, and if the case is solved Mark will get to choose whether he wants to stay with his Blackthorn family or return to the Wild Hunt. And it is HIS struggle that really sucked me into this book.
Mark has been gone five years in human time, but time runs differently in the land of the fairies. He was a teen when he was taken. He's a young adult now when he's returned. He is half fairy, which is why he was taken, but he's also half human, which is why he's returned. Does no one really want him? His years of riding with the Wild Hunt have hardened him, turned him almost feral. He's been beaten and tortured and brainwashed . . . and now dumped back into the human world with a family that he no longer knows. His struggle is heartbreaking.
The other big storyline in this book is the budding . . . and forbidden . . . romance between Emma and Julian. We all knew this was coming, right? These two have known each other nearly all their lives. They've been best friends since they were little kids. They've trained together as Shadowhunters, and both suffered great losses. Emma was taken in by the Blackthorn family at the L.A. institute after her parents were killed. Emma and Julian became parabati partners, a sacred ceremony and bond that makes their Shadowhunter skills and powers even more powerful. It also forbids romantic relationships between partners. Uh-oh.
And ya know what? This is a sore spot of mine. Why do they let KIDS go through the parabati ceremony? When you're a young kid of course you're going to be all about 'We can be stronger and more awesome? Cool! Let's do it!' How can a kid of 12 or 14 know how they're going to feel about that partner in 5 or 10 years? Even if it's not a romantic relationship getting in the way, what if the two people go down different paths and just can't tolerate each other anymore? The parabati bond is for life, yet they let kids make the choice. But anyway, yeah, Emma and Julian are struggling with romantic feelings now that they're older. I'm sure by the end of this series the law about parabati relationships will be changed. lol
I like my storylines streamlined and well paced. This book did a pretty good job at that. I think this author has come a long way from some of the overly cluttered and cheesy stuff in the earlier Shadowhunter books. While this book does still have some side stories going on, probably setting up things to come, not a lot of time was spent on them. They were able to be worked into the main storyline more efficiently. There was a point about two-thirds of the way through where things got a little crazy. As things were being revealed and coming to a head, the story seemed to get a little over the top. I was so disappointed at that point but, luckily, it didn't last long. As things started to settle down again after the big climax, the story went back to the toned down awesomeness of the beginning of the book. Secrets were revealed and hearts were broken and yes, I was in tears.
I think everything with Mark was what I liked best about this book, but my absolute favorite part was later, when preparing for battle, when Mark admitted to himself and someone once dear to him that "I am a Shadowhunter." He repeated it three times, his resolve growing each time. I cried hardest at that point, even though more heartbreaking things that came later.
While I really enjoyed most of the book, I absolutely hated the very end. Here we go, using that YA fiction tactic that I really hate, the one where someone in love decides they're just going to push the other one away to save them. Why, why, whyyyyy?! Emma and Julian have 'the talk' at the end of this book, and one decides they need to make the other think they're interested in someone else. I will admit though, I'm curious about the motive of the third person involved in this ploy. Hmmm.
Are you a fan of the Shadowhunters world?
Have you read Lady Midnight yet?