The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

Five reasons you should read ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare

on April 8, 2016

Disclaimer: there are no spoilers for Lady Midnight here, but this review contains mild spoilers for The Mortal Instruments series.

IMG_1574Lady Midnight (Dark Artifices 1). Cassandra Clare. Simon & Schuster Children’s UK. March 2016.

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…

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

(This is a shortened version of the blurb. Check out the full version on Goodreads.)

I don’t know why, but for some reason, the books I love the most are always the most difficult to review! The last time this happened to me was when I read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell… I couldn’t write a normal review – I had to limit myself to ‘5 reasons you should read it’ – because if I hadn’t my review would have turned into a full on fangirl DISSERTATION… I’m having the same dilemma with Lady Midnight. I mean, I could write you 10,000 words on how much I freaking ADORE the cover alone… (Don’t worry, I’ll spare you.) To save myself (and you) from a whole lotta aimless rambling, I am going to give you FIVE reasons (though there are obvs many more) why you should read this spectacular book:

1. The Shadow World is infinite

You might think that after writing two series, plus several spin-off books, set in the same fictional universe, Cassandra Clare wouldn’t have anything else to say about the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders, but you’d be wrong. What I loved most about Lady Midnight is that although the world was familiar, the murder mystery plot allowed me to venture into parts of it I’d never experienced before, as Emma set out on her mission to find out who killed her parents and make them pay.

(Sidenote: the mystery was not in any way predictable, and I was genuinely shocked by the reveal! It was very cleverly-plotted, and I loved how everything clicked into place once I knew the truth.)

I LOVED hearing more about Faerie (more on that later), the Shadow Market in Los Angeles (where all sorts of dodgy dealings occur, but I would love to wander aimlessly around), and other mysterious parts of Downworld I can’t really talk about without getting spoilery. Cassie’s worldbuilding is one of her greatest strengths as an author – she has created a world so complex that there will always be dark, untouched corners of it to explore, more stories to tell. And I’ll never get bored of reading them.

2. Realistically drawn characters

Another of Cassie’s strengths as a writer is the way she draws her characters. The Blackthorn family (plus Emma, who is basically one of them anyway) are a pretty big clan, but each member of the family feels distinctive because of the detail she peppers them with to make them memorable.

Emma was an awesome protagonist and such an interesting character. She’s so single-minded and OBSESSED by her need for answers and revenge that her entire wardrobe door is collaged with photos and scribblings which are essentially the story of her parents’ murder. So yeah, she’s pretty intense. But she’s not cold-hearted – she cares, and family is everything to her. And the Blackthorn’s are her family now.

I also really loved Julian, Emma’s Parabatai and best friend. Julian is a boy who has had to become an adult long before he was ready, caring for his entire family after his parents were killed in the Dark War, and his older siblings were exiled by the Clave. I loved that Julian wasn’t some perfect role model, but a real person who struggled with responsibility, and often felt like running away and not having to look after his younger brothers and sisters. He had selfish thoughts, but he was ultimately a selfless person, and those thoughts just made him unashamedly human.

Another character I adored was Julian’s younger brother Ty. Although no labels are placed on him, it’s clear Ty is somewhere on the autism spectrum, and I love Cassie for representing this. I loved that Ty is not treated as if there is something wrong with him, because there isn’t – he simply sees the world in his own slightly different way, as we all do! I identified with Ty a lot because I share some of his characteristics and ways of seeing things. Like Ty, I’m obsessed with routine, and I struggle with change – I find it very difficult to adapt, and it makes me anxious. Ty was probably my favourite character in the book…. Of course, it’s really more of a tied first place with my other favourite character…

3. Mark Blackthorn

Yes, Mark gets a whole section to himself, because for me, everything his character brought to the story amounts to a reason to pick up this book! We know from the ending of City of Heavenly Fire that Mark, who is half fae, was taken by the sinister-sounding ‘Wild Hunt’ (a cavalry of faeries who charge across the sky at night, eternally hunting, and gathering the dead from any battle scenes they come across along the way). Mark has been away from his family for five years (although time works differently in Faerie, and for him it has been far longer). Mark is returned to them temporarily in Lady Midnight, but throughout the story, the decision he’ll have to make once the investigation is over looms… will he stay with his family or go back to the Wild Hunt?

Mark was such a complex character with so many conflicting desires and loyalties (with strong ties to his Shadowhunter family but impossible-to-shake, and perhaps even stronger, ties to the Wild Hunt.) I loved the unusual way Mark spoke, and I was captivated by the descriptions of the Wild Hunt and all aspects of Faerie. It’s a sign of fantastic writing when something which is total fantasy becomes so visceral and real in your mind. Mark’s character was such a raw bundle of emotion, and I’m so excited to see what’s in store for him in the next book.

4. Forbidden Parabatai feels

Speaking of emotions, one of my favourite things about Lady Midnight was rooting for Emma and Julian to get-together-already (against pretty much impossible odds). Cassandra Clare knows how to write forbidden love like nobody else. Emma and Julian are Parabatai, and they are bound to each other as warriors, but romantic love between them is strictly forbidden by Shadowhunter law, punishable by exile from the Shadowhunter community forever.

When I read City of Heavenly Fire, I was fairly certain there was going to be something between these two, and in Lady Midnight they’re both struggling with their feelings, which was perfect and agonising at the same time. The whole thing also made me hate the Clave even more than I already did. I couldn’t remember the Parabatai thing being such a no-no when I read The Mortal Instruments series (when Alec is crushing on Jace, the taboo seemed to be because the Clave were homophobic and prejudiced against Downworlders, rather than because Alec and Jace were Parabatai), but we learn a lot more about Parabatai in this book, and my heart was just breaking with how unfair it all was. Everything I learned seemed to push Emma and Julian further and further away from the happy ending they deserved. I am preparing myself for ALL THE EMOTIONS in the next book.

5. Cameos from some familiar faces

And finally…. I’m not going to say much about this, because I don’t want to ruin the surprise BUT although Lady Midnight focuses on Emma, her friend Cristina (who I haven’t had a chance to say anything about yet, but is also rather awesome), and the Blackthorns, we do get to catch up with a few old favourites from The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices. I may have fangirl-squealed (the out loud variety) on these occasions. Thankfully this book is so heavy that I couldn’t take it on public transport with me, so all of that squealing occurred within the confines of my own house.

I feel like there is so much more I could say about this book, but I would be here forever, and you would go to sleep, and I really don’t want to put anyone to sleep, so let’s just say… this book made my heart happy and squishy. If you worship Cassandra Clare like I do, or if you like awesome urban fantasy books with characters that feel like real people you want to hug and squeeze in general, Lady Midnight will make YOUR heart happy and squishy too. READ THIS.


66 responses to “Five reasons you should read ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare

  1. abooknation says:

    I bought Lady Midnight the same week it was released but I haven’t finished The Mortal Instruments or even started The Infernal Devices and I’ve heard that it’s best to read both these series before starting Lady Midnight! Your post has given me motivation to finish the series 😅!

    • mudandstars says:

      Oooh, I’m so glad it inspired you to finish the series 🙂 Those books are some of my favourites of all time. Which book did you get up to? I’d say it’s definitely best to finish those series before starting Lady Midnight, as there are some spoilers for the final TMI book in this one.

      • abooknation says:

        I actually got up to City of Lost Souls , I’m almost half way, I guess it’s because I needed a change! I’ve been marathoning this series and I got a little overwhelmed 😅

      • mudandstars says:

        Totally understandable – I always find marathoning series intense and overwhelming. I did the same thing, but then I had a big gap in between reading City of Lost Souls and City of Heavenly Fire (because it hadn’t come out at that point) so it definitely won’t hurt to take a break and come back to it after reading something different 🙂 Have you read any of The Infernal Devices books?

      • abooknation says:

        I have the first two books in the trilogy, but I haven’t got to them yet! I just don’t want to mix the series, I’ve heard a lot of booktubers saying the best way to read them is to switch from TMI to TID but I just want to finish TMI first and get over it then read TID!

      • mudandstars says:

        Ahh that makes sense. The only thing I would say is that there are some references to TID in the final TMI book which might not make as much sense if you haven’t read them. But it’s only a tiny bit of the book, so it doesn’t really matter if you finish TMI first 🙂

      • abooknation says:

        Oh really? That’s much better because everyone made it seem like they were so closely linked you had to read them together. Thanks for letting me know 😊

      • mudandstars says:

        It’s mainly that there is a character crossover, and that particular character’s storyline makes reference to their storyline in TID. So I suppose actually that means there are spoilers for TID in there… (sorry I’d forgotten about that – I read it ages ago!) I can’t remember what order I read them in, but I have a feeling that I might have started City of Heavenly Fire before I finished TID, and the story still made sense. It just depends how you feel about spoilers..

      • abooknation says:

        Ohhhh it doesn’t really matter, I’ll read TMI then TID I don’t usually like spoilers but I dislike switching from series to series even more 😅

  2. Great post! I haven’t quite finished yet and still have no ideas about what’s going on with the murders. I agree – Cassie is the Queen of the forbidden romance and I love and hate her for it! 😍 x

    • mudandstars says:

      Thank you 🙂 I know exactly how you feel – I hate and love her for messing with my emotions so badly!! I had no idea, and no theories either whilst I was reading it – hope you enjoy the rest of the book and I look forward to seeing what you thought of it 🙂 x

      • Haha she is an expert of making you feel feelings! And also making the best male love interests haha. 😍 thank you! I will definitely be putting up a post of some kind at some point! Xx

      • mudandstars says:

        Ohh yes, a good proportion of my book crushes have been conjured from the imagination of Cassandra Clare haha ❤ who is your favourite love interest from her books? Awesome, can't wait to see it 🙂 xx

      • Oh the Herondale boys! 💔

      • Totally did not see the end of this comment haha! I’m a big Jace fan, but also have a huge soft spot for Jem. ❤ How about you? Thank you! It's going to be a struggle to not make it too fangirl-tastic aha! xx

      • mudandstars says:

        Haha don’t worry, I understand that struggle perfectly. I’m very torn between Jem and Jace too (oh, and Will… good job I’m not actually involved in that love triangle because I would be even more conflicted than Tessa!), but I love Magnus most of all. I wish there was a whole book devoted to Malec 🙂 xx

      • There’s just too many! I am enjoying Julian as well, I must admit! Those Shadowhunter boys eh?! I’m totally with you, a Malec book would be amazing. 🙂 xx

  3. I have Lady Midnight on my bookshelf waiting to be read, I just need to get through all the rest of the Shadowhunter books first 😀 but I loved your review, it makes me even more excited to finally get around to this book, and Lady Midnight sounds like an amazing book!

    • mudandstars says:

      Aww thanks Beth! It was indeed an amazing book. How many of the Mortal Instruments books have you read so far? I really want to re-read them. Also have you watch the Shadowhunters season finale yet? 🙂

      • I’ve heard so many great reviews for it so i can’t wait to get started. At the moment I’ve only read the first three Mortal Instrument books so I have a lot to catch up on 😀
        Yes I saw it the day after it was on TV, oh my god why is it so long before the second series is released!

      • mudandstars says:

        Ooh, you do indeed – hope you enjoy the rest of the series! I wish I could re-experience them for the first time. OMG I know, I saw that it wasn’t coming back until 2017… my heart can’t cope with that long of a wait 😥

      • I’m gonna have to just take like two weeks out and read the books on after the other, I should be able to get through them that way and then I can start Lady Midnight!
        God 2017 is such a long way away. I don’t know how I’m going to wait that long!

      • mudandstars says:

        Haha, that’s pretty much what I did… I think I binge-read the first five books in about 2 weeks.. and then had to wait a year for the last one to come out (painful!!)

      • Ohh, it’s always painful when you’re waiting for the last book in the series but wow that sounds harsh. How did you cope!?

      • mudandstars says:

        I think I coped by re-reading the other books haha 😛

  4. You’ve made me want to read Lady Midnight so bad, and I haven’t even started City of Bones yet 😛

  5. belleinfini says:

    I’m about halfway through this book and the forbidden love is killing me. It hurts so much. Please help.
    Great review! 🙂

    • mudandstars says:

      Aww thank you! I know, it killed me too. I feel your pain! Can’t wait to see your thoughts when you finish the book 🙂 I already can’t wait for the next book, but I have a feeling it’ll be a long wait 😥

  6. 1 reason I can’t read Lady Midnight:
    I haven’t even read City of Bones😅😅😅 I’m excited to jump into this world though 😀

    • mudandstars says:

      Haha, that’s a pretty good reason, to be fair.. Lady Midnight has lots of spoilers for The Mortal Instruments books. I’m glad you’re excited to pick them up though – it’s one of my favourite series of all time 😀 Hope you love them as much as I do when you get round to picking up City of Bones 🙂

  7. Ayunda says:

    Whar a very convincing post! I’ve always been interested in reading Cassandra Clare, but I’ve never read any of her work! Would you recommend me starting with this one (and if I like it I’ll start from the first series) or just start reading in order of publication date? ☺️

    • mudandstars says:

      Wow, thanks – I’m glad you found it convincing! 🙂 I’m so glad you’re thinking of picking up Cassandra Clare’s books – I love them all so much. Lady Midnight was an amazing book, but I would recommend reading The Mortal Instruments series first, because this book contains quite a lot of references/spoilers for the final TMI book. I read the first five Mortal Instruments books first, and then I read The Infernal Devices series before reading the sixth/final TMI book. This seemed to work quite well, because the sixth TMI book has references to The Infernal Devices series so made more sense that way. Hope you love them as much as I do if you decide to start the series 😀

  8. So, I’ve decided I’m not going to finish TMI (I’ve read books 1-3) just because I can’t get into them :/ I’ve almost finished TID though! Do you think I’ll still like Lady Midnight even though I don’t like TMI? Or is a lot like it? I’m so torn I don’t know whether to give it a go or not!

    • I personally adored TID (the ending of Clockwork Princess made me sob many, many glorious tears) but Lady Midnight is more like TMI, especially the last few books. It’s okay that you didn’t get into TMI – I didn’t love the series either – but there are some spoiler-y things about the series in Lady Midnight, and the new series as a whole seems really linked to TMI much more than TID. You’re in luck, though – a super awesome somebody from the latter series shows up in Lady Midnight so we can all squeal with feeling 😀

      • Yeah, I thought spoilery things would happen but I honestly don’t mind. But, do you think the writing is better? Is it easier to get into? Some people have said that the writing really has improved since some of the older books and that makes me really intrigued to read it 😀

      • The writing’s definitely improved from her first 3, that’s for sure. I like it better than the Bane chronicles as well. I don’t think it’s better than TID, but it’s a different time period, so that may be why. I’m still not finished with it – it’s a seriously hefty book, and I’m listening to it on audiobook. The story is not hard to follow, and the characters are all nicely developed. I personally just wish there was less time spent thinking (or moaning and groaning) and more action. Hopefully it will pick up somewhere past the halfway mark.

      • I might have to give it a read then ^_^ Thanks!

      • mudandstars says:

        I squealed when that super awesome somebody showed up too! 😀

    • mudandstars says:

      As Diana mentioned, I would say on the whole that Lady Midnight is more similar to TMI than TID, but all three series have quite a different vibe to them, and I do think that the writing has gotten better since the original books (although I may be slightly biased here as I loved her writing style from the beginning). I guess it really depends on what you disliked about TMI – was it the writing/characters/plot? I love all of the TMI characters, but I felt that in Lady Midnight, the character development was even better, which is I guess one way the writing’s improved. 🙂 There are quite a lot of references to things that happened in the TMI series in this book, but the book definitely has a different feel to it, so I’d really recommend giving it a go, even if you weren’t totally sold on TMI 🙂

      • It was a mixture of things really. I just found it a little predictable and I didn’t really like the character development and dialogue (it was cheesy in some aspects). But, Lady Midnight looks really interesting so yeah, I’m gunna decide to give it a go! 🙂

      • mudandstars says:

        Ahh okay, in that case, I think you’ll still enjoy Lady Midnight. Although I love The Mortal Instruments, I can definitely appreciate what you mean about the dialogue haha, and I agree that some aspects of the plot were predictable. I didn’t find myself feeling that way with Lady Midnight though, and I didn’t find it predictable (especially in terms of the murder mystery – I had no idea.) I’m really glad you’re going to give it a go 😀 look forward to seeing what you think of the book.

      • I mean, it’s new characters, new setting, and pretty much a new story, so I can’t not give it a go 😉 But thanks for persuading me!

  9. Madeline @ The SFF Bookshelf says:

    I agree with you on every single one of these points. Lady Midnight is perhaps the best book that Cassandra Clare has written, and I am looking forward to seeing this series progress.

    I think a lot of people were hesitant about this book because it is once again set in the Shadowhunter world. But I think this book only continued to develop and expand this world that Clare has created so wonderfully. People should not judge this book based on that.

    And the characters, oh the beautiful Blackthorns, a family that I desperately want to become a member of. Each character is seriously so perfect. I want to hang out with Julian and Mark and Ty and Livia and Dru. And if it is possible I want to babysit the adorable Tavvy. These feel like such real characters to me.


    • mudandstars says:

      I completely agree – I think the world is complex enough that there are still so many ways it can be expanded, and stories that can be told. I personally was so happy when I found out Cassandra Clare was writing another series set in this world – I probably wouldn’t get bored even if she kept on writing new series set in this world 🙂 Totally agree about the Blackthorn’s – I’d love to be a part of that family. All of the characters were so well developed, I feel like I know them! I have a horrible feeling we’re going to have to wait a really long time for the next book 😥 waiting for Lady Midnight was unbearable enough haha!! 😦

  10. Emma says:

    I absolutely love Lady Midnight, I think it’s her best work yet. Also, your edition is lovely!

    • mudandstars says:

      I know, it’s so pretty – I squealed so much when it arrived in the post! I completely agree, it’s definitely her best book yet (closely followed by Clockwork Princess) – her writing just gets better and better 🙂

  11. Okay, okay I’ll read it!! haha I wanted to read it anyway- but this makes me want to read it more- great review!

  12. I totally agree The Books I love most are the hardest to review. And Mark Blackthorn is the reason I loved Lady Midnight 10 times more!

    • mudandstars says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only person who struggles with this. It’s so much easier to review books when I have positive and negative things to say, but when I love a book this much all I want to do is squeal about how amazing it is! And yesss Mark was an amazing character, and I loved the flashbacks to his time in the Wild Hunt. I really can’t predict what’s going to happen with him in the next book. His character makes everything more exciting 😀

  13. Annelise Lestrange says:

    I totally understand how you feel, my review for Carry On was a mess too! >.< But you did a good job with Lady Midnight!!

    • mudandstars says:

      Hahaha, I think your review was pretty coherent considering your reaction when you finished the book LOL. And thank youuu 🙂 I’m so excited for you to read The Mortal Instruments so I can fangirl with you over Magnus and Alec.

      • Annelise Lestrange says:

        me too!! The world becomes a better and dangerous place when we fangirl together ❤ ❤ hahahahha!

  14. […] Jess @ The Mud and Stars Book Blog […]

  15. booksnbrainsblog says:

    I agree!! The best books are the hardest to review!! Loved your review though 🙂 LM was amazing

    • mudandstars says:

      Thanks so much 😀 They really are, I had to stop myself from just writing 10,000 words worth of fangirling haha! And LM was indeed amazing 🙂 It’s gonna be a difficult wait until the next book 😦

  16. I am currently rereading City of Bones, which is the only one I have read. I actually listened to the audiobook of CoB and the narrator turned me off of it for a while. She made Clary sound so whiney.

    Now that I’m reading it for myself, I can see that Clary isn’t even half as bad as the narrator made her out to be. I just think it was the voice she used for her; it wasn’t actually her fault.

    I’m looking forward to working my way through the books though!

    • mudandstars says:

      Oooh, I hope you enjoy the rest of the books! I’ve never actually listened to an audiobook before, but I can imagine it making a big difference if the narrator makes one of the characters sound annoying. I like Clary, but I did find her whiney at times (so I can definitely see how that could’ve been made even worse by a narrator with a whiney voice).

  17. Kim says:

    I love every single one of the books Cassandra Clare has written and own them all. The only thing that has stopped me from reading Lady Midnight immediately is that it has been a long time between the last time I read The Mortal Instruments series. So, I’ve been toying with the idea of reading the other books before reading Lady Midnight. I love all of these books so much. But you’re review was very convincing as well, so I’m still undecided. Sigh.

    • mudandstars says:

      I know how you feel, it had been ages since I’d read City of Heavenly Fire, and I was worried I’d forget a lot of the details and get confused in Lady Midnight. In some ways, I wish I had re-read them first, but all of the references to events from CoHF are explained, so it wasn’t too much of a problem 🙂 I am hoping to do a re-read of all her books sometime this year – I love them so much too! 🙂

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