Thursday 6 July 2017

Book Review - Lady Midnight

Oh, Cassandra Clare. I thought I was done with you and your Shadowhunter world. Apparently, I was wrong.

Ok, let me go back and explain this first sentence. When I first discovered The Mortal Instruments trilogy (as it was back then), City of Glass was about to be published. So I binge read all three books back-to-back (it's very VERY rare I do this) and loved them. So, when it was announced there was going to be another trilogy - The Infernal Devices - and three more books added to The Mortal Instruments trilogy, turning it into a series/cycle: I was excited. I read The Infernal Devices and probably loved it more than The Mortal Instruments trilogy. And while I have City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls on my kindle, I believe that I am done with Clary, Jace and the other characters. To me, their stories are done.

So when I heard news that Cassandra Clare was doing a few more trilogies, I was hesitant. I believed I was done with this world and I wasn't sure if I wanted to return.

So when I got Lady Midnight last year from Simon and Schuster, I was hugely grateful but uncertain if I wanted to go back. It was only in the past few weeks that I thought "Maybe I should try. What have I got to lost?". And when I received a copy of Lord of Shadows from Simon and Schuster and I saw Lady Midnight was free on Audible, I went "Ok, I have to go back. These are signs and I feel ready to risk it."

Taken place several years after the events of City of Heavenly Fire, we follow Emma Carstairs in Los Angeles with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn with his brothers and sisters, who stumble into something that they are, by Shadowhunter Law, not get involved in. Bodies of humans and fairies are being dumped round the city and when the fairies ask for Emma and the Shadowhunters of the Los Angeles Institute to investigate, an uneasy alliance is formed. For Emma, this is a chance to find the truth about her parents murders and get revenge. For Julian, this is a chance to get his brother, Mark, who was taken by the Wild Hunt for being half fairy.

But as they investigate, feelings come to the surface between Emma and Julian. And if the Shadowhunters have one rule they hold dear, it's this: you don't follow in love with your parabatai...

Am going to say this right off the bat, I'm glad I had the audiobook because if I didn't, I don't know when I could have found the time to read Lady Midnight. But, also, due to the audiobook [mainly, its narrator], I didn't like this book as much as I believe I could have. If I had read this, I think I would have liked it a lot more than I did.

I'm not 100% certain about the story. It'll be interesting to see where Cassandra Clare does take it as I feel there is room to make this a gripping read. And I have seen people who love this book and do call it a gripping read, and while I did enjoy it, it weirdly fell short for me. I can't put my finger on why. It might be the length, it might that this book is setting up for the rest of the trilogy, or it being be that even though this is a new trilogy, we still got characters from The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices popping up doing little cameos and pushing the story forward (but why, though? Your story is done. Can't you let the new characters have a moment to shine?). I'm not sure but there was something lacking for me.

One thing that isn't lacking which I loved is representation. In all her Shadowhunter series, Cassandra Clare goes full out on representation and diversity and Lady Midnight is no expectation. We have Cristina and, later, Diego who are Mexican and speak Spanish [and with everything that is happen in the USA at the moment, this was wonderful and refreshing. Plus, I can't think of any books I've read/am aware of that have Mexican lead characters!]. We have Ty who is somewhere on the Autism spectrum. We have another character who is suffering from mental health, possibly even brain damage. And, because of this, we have a underage carer, not only looking after them, but also a young family as well. We have a character who is bisexual and, according to some readers, is polyamorous (a term I have never really heard of so had to Google) and a few other character who are on the LGBTQIA+. Even though I question this series and wonder if Cassandra Clare is just milking that cash cow, I can not fault her for writing representation and writing it well.

I do worry about the Shadowhunter world as there seems to be a lot of trilogies and spinoffs. We have The Last Hours trilogy - the first book, Chain of Gold, coming out in 2018 - which follows the children of the characters from the Infernal Devices trilogy. We have an adult Shadowhunter trilogy which she is co-authoring with Wesley Chu, The Eldest Curses - the first book rumoured to be coming out in 2018. We have The Wicked Powers trilogy which is rumoured to be Cassandra Clare's last trilogy in the Shadowhunter world. And there is rumoured to be be other projects either very similar to The Bane Chronicles and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy or entering new styles such as graphic novel. Now, while I am OK with authors expanding their worlds (JK Rowling and Philip Pullman are doing it with their Fantastic Beasts movies and The Book of Dust trilogy), what I am concerned over is that readers will be looking at Cassandra Clare and will be wondering how many stories she can tell within this world or whether she is doing this is exploit her readers from their cash. She and her publishers need to be careful not to oversaturate the market and fans.

While this might not be one of my favourite books I've read set in the Shadowhunter world, I do think this trilogy does has potential and I will be reading Lord of Shadows sometime in the next 12 months.

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