Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?
A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.
Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?
Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.
When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy/Young Adult/Romance
Rating: 5/5 Stars
First Line: “Kit had only recently found out what a flail was, and now there was a rack of them hanging over his head, shiny and sharp and deadly.”
Let me say this first: I love all of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters books. I love her writing style, I love the world she’s created, I love how she intertwines all of the stories so well. I keep telling my mom that the world she’s created and how impactful it can be rivals J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.
On that note, WHAT. THE. FUDGE. WAS THAT CLIFFHANGER??????? Oh my goodness this might just be one of the worst cliffhangers I’ve come across and I’ve read quite a few! So ye be warned: this book will take your heart and rip it into little tiny pieces. But it will be so so worth it.
Because this book is beautiful, it’s incredibly relevant, it’s unconventional, it’s everything that young adult books should aim for (except that there are a few typos that I caught but editors can’t catch everything so sometimes that happens).
First off, this book is so beautiful because the writing is that wonderful style that’s simple enough you can read without really feeling like you’re reading, but also just powerful and wise enough to be extremely quote-able (is that a word? I don’t know. It should be). I’m sure at some point I’ll be rereading this book and filling it with highlights. For now, I’m just going to keep telling you this book is flipping beautiful.
Why, you might ask, did I say this book is incredibly relevant? Well, this goes back to what I said about Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter chronicles rivaling Harry Potter. Both of these series use magical, other-wordly scenarios to address real-life problems. House elves were slaves, I’ve heard rumors that Remus Lupin’s complications from being a werewolf is supposed to represent many people’s struggles with AIDS. Cassandra Clare also uses her books to make important points about issues in our world, to give faces to those struggling, and to humanize people we often dehumanize. In that vein, I think that Lord of Shadows has been Clare’s most successful book yet. I’ll try to share some things without too many spoilers: there’s multiple LGBTQ+ characters in these books, there’s a character who has classic signs of autism (he isn’t diagnosed because shadowhunters don’t believe in mundane medicine but essentially he has autism), there’s tons of unconventional families, and there’s (here’s that word again) beautiful examples of relationships of all forms.
Anyway, I was so so pleased with how relevant this book is, and hope that it will open readers’ eyes in the same way it opened mine. I love it when books make me question who I am, what I think, and what/who I’m supporting. This book mostly fell in line with my personal views on the world, and I’ll admit that that’s a possible reason I loved it SO MUCH, but it still brought up questions for me and it still made me wonder how I might be assuming things about people around me.
This is the second book in the Dark Artifices trilogy. If you decide you want to read it, I highly suggest reading Lady Midnight (the first one) first, otherwise the characters will feel much less developed and lovable.
I strongly strongly strongly recommend any of the Shadowhunter chronicles to anyone who wants to explore a world that is so fleshed out it often feels real. The Infernal Devices trilogy is probably the slowest moving, but it has my favorite romance of almost any book. The Mortal Instruments is the most well-known of the shadowhunter books (PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT JUDGE THIS SERIES BY THE MOVIE/TV SHOW THE BOOKS ARE SO MUCH BETTER). The Dark Artifices is arguably the fastest moving of the different series, though that might just be because a lot of the problems were developing in the other series so it feels natural to dive further into them. If you’d like to know what order I read the books in, feel free to ask! All of the shadowhunter books interconnect and overlap which makes them so much fun to read. It’s like looking for hidden Mickeys!
Anyway, these books are so so good and you should go read them all because they’re wonderful and they will simultaneously make you happy and inspire you while also ripping your heart to shreds. It’ll be great!