In a kingdom by the sea…
In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.
A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.
Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.
Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?
Less than two days after I got my grubby little paws on this book and basically read it by osmosis, I found myself wondering, what is Cassandra Clare´s secret? How is it that her characters never, ever fail to enthrall thousands of readers around the world? What is it about this fantastic world of hers that attracts so many? I still haven´t found an answer, but this review is my lame attempt to figure it out.
I´ve also got to confess that I honestly became obsessed with the Annabel Lee poem after reading this book, and it has officially become my favorite Poe poem (or as my little brother punned earlier today, “My favorite Poe-m”). Clare tangled the story with the poetry in such a subtle, smart way, that I´d find myself grinning when I thought about it. The chapter titles, the shadowhunter-y explanations of what the verses meant, the whole plot structure spiraling from its words… it was all very well done.
Another thing that really surprised me was how much I liked her version of L.A. I´ve always had this very industrialized image of the city in my head, and it was so nice to read about the nature around it, not just the buildings and cars and all the Hollywood extravaganza. The scenery in this book is gorgeous, and it was fun reading about Shadowhunters from a different part of the country. They have a completely different Institute, full of glass and wood, very different from the ones in NY, London and Idris, and it emphasized the diversity in Clare´s writing.
And I gotta say, I enjoyed reading about these modern Shadowhunters. In TMI they rarely messed with technology, and when they did, it was with flip-phones and 2008-appropriate tech, so it was cool seeing these training-obsessed teenagers using a not-so-secret computer and their phones to take photos of runes and other downworld related things, making life a whole lot easier for them. I mean, would you prefer to have to remember a ritualistic chalk circle by memory or to have an actual picture of it? We also get to see this strange, constant mix of normal mundane stuff with Shadow World stuff, from the smallest of things (like wearing a belt full of blades and other weapons over pajama bottoms) to the rather unbelievable (oh yeah, my magic, red-eyed horse becomes this really cool flying motorcycle).
Seriously, though, with all these new, modern things, the Clave really needs to update. Half of the conflicts we see in Clare´s books are caused by them, usually because they´re old-fashioned snobs who don´t believe in the mental capability of younger people.
I feel like Lady Midnight gave us a fresh new view on the Shadow World. We get to learn more about how young kids are raised and educated, and that they even get tested with exams, just like mundanes (granted they get tested on things like “five ways to kill a demon without using any weapons” and “how to tell the difference between a nixie and a pixie,” but you get what I´m saying).
I think it might have to do with the fact that they were raised my someone who was barely any older than them, but still, I was surprised at how honest and open Emma and Julian were with the younger Blackthorns. Most of them are still very young, but there was no hesitation to share with them all the gory details of Emma´s investigation. They also train every day for several hours, handling deadly weapons and exerting themselves beyond what any kid should do. But I guess that´s just what it´s expected from them in their world.
I love the Blackthorns. They´re a big family, each of them unique and different, but at the same time, they fit together like puzzle pieces. At first I kept getting them all confused, but as the story develops, it´s impossible not to start caring for every single one of them. But man, even if some of them were really young, the older ones really could´ve helped out Julian a bit more. He´s a teenager, and yet, he runs an institute and has to act like a dad, not a brother. He just seems so sad, with all that responsibility on his shoulders, having to grow up so fast. And then Mark shows up, and instead of giving a hand, just climbs on Julian as well. I even think Emma could´ve helped more.
I have a dark secret, though. As much as I loved Emma and Julian´s parabatai bond, as much as I loved how intense their relationship is, I often found myself irritated with them. I enjoyed reading from the POV of two parabatai, it was very interesting, but most of the time I just wanted to yell at the two of them. During the entire thing I wanted to squeeze Julian to my chest and tell him everything was going to be okay, and for God´s sake, Emma just needed to hug the boy, too. Just freaking comfort him, girl! Honestly, I never saw two parabatai so intimate in soul as them, but at the same time so separated. I mean, no one would´ve thought it was weird for the two of them to hug after a life-or-death battle. Or for them to hug, period.
They just keep on hiding important things and hurting each other and I just wanted to knock their heads together. I love how intense the relationships in her books are, but man, I really don´t enjoy miscommunication as a plot device.
The frustration! Most books have it, it makes the reader keep on reading, but they usually have a moment where the frustrations builds up and then explodes and disappears, becoming something thoroughly satisfying. But not a Clare book, oh no, the tension just keeps on piling, until your chest hurts so much it feels like it´s going to burst.
But as much as it made me want to jump out a window, I couldn´t get enough. In the wise words of Ron Weasley: “So you´re going to suffer…but you´re going to be happy about it.”
There are so many new characters and it was lots of fun reading about them. We also get to learn more about old TMI and TID characters, and every time someone mentioned Tessa or Clary or Magnus or any of the old gang, I would just start giggling like a mad person, kinda like, I knowwww themmm ahahahahaha. Not my proudest moments, but oh well.
Despite being as stubborn as a rock, I really liked Emma. She´s wild and badass, and I liked how she´s the one who´s considered the Next Best Top Shadowhunter. She´s not a guy, she´s doesn’t have any extra angel blood, she doesn´t have any secret powers; she got as far as she did with hard work and determination. It´s all her. Don´t get me wrong though, most of the time I just wanted to shake Emma and yell: WHAT ARE YOU DOING????
I´m not even going to talk about Malcom, he´s a bit of a sore spot.
But, I shall talk about how much I love Clare´s humor. It´s right up my alley, and all the quips and weirdness fit right into what I consider rib-cracking, snort-inducing, quality humor. Reading this book was almost like coming home (if my home had nasty demons and dormant-werewolf snobs running around). And can I just comment that I can´t quite comprehend that Nightshade, the powerful head of the L.A. vampire clan, owns several small dogs, and takes them everywhere he goes. And said dogs are usually deposited in the Institute foyer during important meeting. I mean…what even?
And as I bring this review to a close, I must say I quite enjoyed reading this. Julian and Emma have absolutely no idea what they´re doing with their lives, creepy ass dead ladies are coming back from the dead, the ritualistic murdering has hopefully stopped and I really, really want to read the next book. 4.5 out of 5 stars and a cupcake.
P.S. There is this one moment when the lady from the Lottery says “The Lottery has chosen,” and I seriously imagined that scene from Toy Story with the little green aliens and The Claw. But more macabre.