I finished Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare (Book 2 in the Dark Artifices series) earlier today and it left me feeling exhausted. Emotionally exhausted, that is. Or maybe numb? Don’t worry – the emotions caught up to me soon enough. …Does that sound ominous? Because it was meant to. The question is: is it the good sort of ominous or the bad sort? Spoiler alert, it’s the good sort! Okay, that was the only LoS spoiler here. Read on for my spoiler-free review! (Note: while this is spoiler-free for LoS, there may be spoilers from Book 1, Lady Midnight, specifically in the Overview Section).
YA, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Romance
Fans of The Mortal Instruments series! And if you haven’t read TMI, you should most definitely read those books before reading Lady Midnight and LoS. And the Infernal Devices series! Be sure to read those before LM and LoS as well. All in all, if you enjoy YA fantasy, kickass fight scenes, epic adventure, challenging relationships (both platonic and romantic), angels (well, descendants of angels to be more specific), demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves, and fae, then give Clare’s books a try ☺️ Yes, that seems like a lot to pack into a series, but in its entirety, this collection (a.k.a. The Shadowhunter Chronicles) has 11 books (so far) and a TON of novellas and short stories. So, it’s warranted.
Overview (From book jacket)
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 to never 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.
LoS takes readers to different Shadowhunter Institutes across the globe, as well as to the Faerie and Shadowhunter lands. Fans of the previous books will be pleased to see some familiar locales.
We get to see and learn more of the Blackthorns – my fave Shadowhunter family! Besides them, though, there are A LOT of characters to love (and hate) in LoS. And, as with the setting, TMI fans will see some familiar faces as they make guest appearances throughout the story.
What I Liked
LoS was told through varying perspectives, allowing readers insight into the goings-on at different locations among different groupings of characters. And speaking of the goings-on, there were LOTS going on; it definitely kept me on my toes as the various journeys unfolded.
I also enjoyed the romance and the possibility of certain ships. And the relationships between all the characters, really, not just the romantic ones. These relationships were complicated and challenging and frustrating just as much as others were easy and carefree.
Diversity! LoS was diverse in terms of ethnicity and sexual and gender identity and I love that there are more and more characters who readers might be able to relate to.
And OMG this CLIFFHANGER. This bit isn’t really something I liked (in the strictest sense of the word), because TOO MANY FEELS, but it’s also not something I disliked. However, I’m writing it into this section, because I feel that it was very well done. It was quite possibly the WORST cliffhanger ever. Or… do I mean the BEST cliffhanger ever? Probably the best, because MAN, did it do its job. Let’s revisit the definition of cliffhanger, courtesy of Oxford’s online dictionary: “a dramatic and exciting ending to an episode of a serial, leaving the audience in suspense and anxious not to miss the next episode”. Dramatic – check. Exciting – check? (Exciting and nerve-racking walk a fine line in my book). Suspense – check! Anxious – CHECK. My mouth literally fell open when I turned the page expecting to find more only to find the Acknowledgements Section instead 😭
What I Liked a Little Less
At times, I found the volume of description to be overwhelming. I’m not one to skip content, but while reading LoS I did feel that there was sometimes too much detail and actually ended up skimming some paragraphs to get back to the main plot points and dialogue.
4/5 ✨ As I said before, that cliffhanger did its job. That in conjunction with the overall story and my emotional investment in these characters has made me incredibly antsy to get the third and final book, The Queen of Air and Darkness. And it’s not expected to be released until… *does quick Google search for publication date*… 2019, according to Goodreads… while Wikipedia says 2023 😱 okay… okay, don’t panic. I’m just going to assume that Wikipedia is severely mistaken… Cause, come on.