Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Unpopular opinion time: I didn’t absolutely love Lady Midnight.
Here’s the thing: I wanted to love Lady Midnight. Very badly. And I don’t NOT like it–it’s still amazing!–but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
First issue I had is that it takes a reeeeaally long time before seriously getting started. There’s a lot of introducing characters and solidifying relationships but even through the whole mysterious murders thing starts in the very first chapter, it’s not until a good 400 pages in that the Emma and her crew put some actual effort in to figure it out. It’s the first book of the series–I don’t care that it’s Cassie Clare and most people are going to be reading it just because of her and of Clary and Jace and Tessa and Will and Jem, it needs to grab and sustain our attention from the beginning. 400 pages of set-up, no matter how interesting the world is, is frustrating to read.
I love Cassie Clare but I have to admit, I was frustrated by how alike the characters all sound. I don’t mean that in terms of personality–every one of them is completely different from another, that much is indisputable–but the way they talk, their senses of humour often (to me at least) felt recycled from characters we met way back in TMI/TID. Don’t get me wrong–I adore Clare’s writing and the way her characters interact but…I don’t know. It just didn’t have that spark that says ‘I’m something shiny and new, come love me!’ and I wish that it did.
Apart from that though, most of what stopped me from loving it was I think just a feeling like something was missing. But moving on because I don’t like being bummed and there is still so so much good to talk about in this book!
Apart from a strange intro by a random teen named Kit who I will not talk about because he’s irrelevant until the end and I don’t want to spoil it, the first character we meet is Emma Carstairs. All grown up from the twelve-year-old fighter we met in CoHF and ready to become ‘the new Jace Herondale,’ Emma is the prime example of a Shadowhunter rebel. Let’s get real here: no one likes the Clave. I personally hate the Clave. When it comes to their stupid-ass rules, Emma is that attitude personified. She’s also incredibly strong (in all ways), fierce, dedicated, and determined, but with just enough fear and insecurity to feel real.
Julian Blackthorn. Oh dear. Julian’s devotion to his family, Emma included, is intense and unwavering. He’s also a compulsive liar and occasionally terrifying; he’s ruthless, but everyone thinks he’s gentle. But he’s also very sweet and hesitant and loving so you connect with and feel for him, even when he kinda scares you.
There are multiple romance subplots in Lady Midnight, including a love triangle/square between Mark and Kieran and Cristina and Diego, but the primary one is Emma and Julian. Who are–wait for it!–Parabataiiiiiiiiii! Dun dun dunn. Parabatai love is completely forbidden so I’m sure you can guess what comes next. Aaaaand as with all forbidden love stories, of course they’re going to be unable to keep their hands off each other and damn do those two move FAST.
Clare must have had so much fun writing Mark interacting with literally anybody non-faerie who exists. His whole gentry attitude is hilarious! Also sad; it’s very sad because you can visibly see how much the Shadowhunter and faerie parts of him are at war with each other. Oh and Kieran doesn’t exactly help matters by being such a watchful eye (as much as I do like them together). Plus then there’s Christina–who is tied with Mark for my new favourite character–who is so sweet and so charming and so simultaneously badass and just makes it so much worse for Mark because he likes both of them and UGH. It hurts.
There are a TON of other bomb-ass characters in Lady Midnight that I could talk about but then we’d all be here for days. So I’ll settle for this: each Blackthorn child has a distinct and fascinating personality and they complement each other flawlessly. It takes no time at all to become attached to every single one of them.
Apart from starting off slow, the story is just as fascinating as the rest of Clare’s novels, and once it picks up it never slows down again. It’s intriguing and unpredictable, complex and layered and utterly interconnected with the rest of the Shadowhunter novels. Seriously, don’t read this without reading every single other Cassie Clare book, including The Bane Chronicles and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy--all the little easter eggs and guest appearances are so much nicer when you recognize where they come from (#ClaceForever).
See, there was a ton that I did absolutely love about Lady Midnight so even given it’s less-than-wonderful attributes, it really is a great novel. And the Shadow world of Clare’s novels is enough of a reason to read it, because even when the story gets frustrating, the world is too captivating to give up on!
Click here for the book synopsis on goodreads!