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…
Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?
The events for Lady Midnight had been in part, already structured since City of Heavenly Fire. Emma’s parents were one of the casualties of the Dark War, but she does not believe it so. Now, similar murders are happening, and it is up to the Los Angeles Institute to figure it out, without the knowledge of the Clave. Actually, pretty much a lot of what happens is without the knowledge of the Clave, which is usual for a Shadowhunters novel. But this book is, as always, more about the character arcs, and we get about four main POVs through Emma, Julian, Cristina and Mark.
Emma is the Jace Herondale of this series, meaning that she is reckless, snarky and gloriously blonde. She is holding on to vengeance for her parent’s death and that is the thing that keeps her going to achieve Jace-level glory. Julian’s family is like hers but she still keeps things at a slight distance, and there is a part of her that relishes the freedom of not being anyone. Julian, her parabatai, is perhaps the saddest character in the entire Shadowhunter universe. He had agreed to become her parabatai because he wanted them to stay together, but now his feelings for her are a torment to him. He also has had to grow up since 12 years of age, to become a father to his siblings and a proxy Head of the Institute. Much of his arc is him being burdened with responsibility, him resenting the Clave for taking away his older siblings and leaving him to this fate. He loves his siblings, yes, but he also has no freedom to be a boy, and that is incredibly sad.
Cristina, a new addition to the Institute and a transfer from Mexico, becomes Emma’s best friend quickly and I loved the way these two loved each other. She is running from a broken heart and Mark and she connect in a way he cannot with his family. Mark, for his part, is torn in two – his years in the Wild Hunt left him bereft of normality and now he doesn’t know how to live with his grown-up family. He also left behind someone he loved and that is in part, a reason for him to go back; but he loves his family too, including Emma. Love is a big theme in this series – particularly, the different kinds of love, which plays a big part, because parabatai can’t be in love with each other, and there are two big reveals at the end, both of which have so much potential ahead.
In a big part, I am thankful that the nature of the series hasn’t changed; it is all adventure and heartbreak and humor, some betrayal is also involved (which reeks of TMI, if you know what I mean). As for characters, I loved them all – how they were fleshed out so beautifully, how every wild impulse and every loving moment was translated into words. The characters themselves are rendered in shades, with their flaws and their goodness all making for a good development. There was perhaps only one thing I found wrong – I found it a bit unbelievable that the whole of Los Angeles Institute constituted of only two adult Shadowhunters. Like, Julian covered up, but like they went under the radar for five years? Stretches my imagination, if you ask me. But otherwise, this is such a great start to the series and I am eager for what is to come. Bring it, Lord Shadows!