Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Published: 8 March 2016
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 stars)
Do I think the shadowhunter world is the best thing since sliced bread? No.
Is this the best book of 2016? No.
Is this a damn good story? Yes, that it is.
This is a story about choices – the choices we make for love, for family, for friendship and freedom. The choices we make despite what we’re told is right, despite what convention and society, and even the law dictate as ‘correct’. The story unravels as we wait for each of the characters in this book to make a choice – and it climaxes as we see the impact of those various choices. And it is a good read – enjoyable, interesting and fairly well written.
“That’s not the spirit of the law, Emma. Remember? ‘The Law is hard, but it is the Law’.”
“I thought it was ‘the Law is annoying, but it is also flexible’.”
First, let me say that you do not have to have read any of the previous Shadowhunters novels to understand this book. Clare does an incredible job with both backstory and worldbuilding from the very first page, that covers off all the main aspects of the previous novels in a perfect balance. Not too much information, not too overtly done – just right. And this is a good thing, because I did not enjoy The Mortal Instruments series that much, and would not be willing to recommend Lady Midnight if I also had to recommend people read The Mortal Instruments beforehand.
I didn’t hate the The Mortal Instruments series but I found so many problems with it. Jace and Clary’s “love story” was laughable – there was no chemistry between them and at no point in the book did I care whether they ended up together or not. And then of course there was Clare’s fan fiction writing background, that hovered above me like a dark cloud that I could not get past no matter how hard I tried. Why oh why must I overthink everything. The fact that Clare was a Harry Potter fan fiction writer was painstakingly obvious.There were just way too many similarities to Harry Potter for me – or at least similarities that I linked to Harry Potter. Just off the top of my head the ones that spring to mind: Clary is thrust into a world of Shadowhunters she didn’t know existed just as Harry finds out about the wizarding world at age 11, the Institute is the alternative of Hogwarts, Valentine is the Shadowhunter version of Voldermort, the Circle are the equivalent of Death Eaters, the three Mortal Instruments are the three Deathly Hallows.
From reading that you’d think I’d have major issues with this book, being set in the same world and all. But I didn’t. I actually really enjoyed it it. Perhaps it’s because the Shadowhunter world is now familiar to me, or because there is no Jace and Clary love story here (thank the Lord!), but whatever it is I really liked this book. It was a huge step-up from The Mortal Instruments. HUGE.
But for the life of me I just couldn’t give it 4 stars.
My minor problems with the book are the random “flashback chapters” scattered in the book and the constant clothing descriptions. I literally did not see the point. The flashback chapters could have been so much better incorporated in the book through character backstory, rather than whole chapter flashbacks. I think what I hated the most is that the “flashback chapters” were entirely italicised. I mean, who the hell though that was a good idea? It’s difficult to read and makes the book feel like a novel for 13-year-olds. And the clothing descriptions…
“Telling herself it was no big deal, she went back to her room and changed into leggings and a T-shirt, and slid her feet into flip-flops.”
“He was wearing jeans and a gray T-shirt that made his eyes look lapis blue”
All I can say is why, why, why! This is so distracting from the story and absolutely painful to read -and there are SO many of these clothing descriptions in the book. No one cares what the hell they wore every freaking day – unless clothing descriptions add something to the story they should be left out!
Despite that little rant, these minor problems were still something I could get past; they were by no means detrimental.
But what was detrimental to a 4 star rating was this- from the second I shut the page while reading this book I didn’t think about it once – no matter where I had stopped at – and when I shut the last page, the entire story disappeared. It didn’t linger in my head, I didn’t worry about the characters, I didn’t rush to look up when the next book will be released. Nothing.
Which is surprising. As I read the book, I thought the characters had depth and dimensions. While the book is slow to start, and definitely too long in my opinion, it isn’t boring. So what is my problem then?
I am still struggling to put my finger on it, but I suspect perhaps the alternating use of the third person limited , from Emma, to Mark, to Julian, to Christina, was a problem in terms of identifying with the characters. It just pulls you in too many directions, not allowing any ‘bond forming’ to occur with a single character before you’re pulled away from them into another’s thoughts. Or perhaps, deep down, I am still bitter about the parallels with Harry Potter? (I joke.)
Whatever it is, I just know that I am still not sold on the whole Shadowhunter fandom, even if I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will probably pick up the next one once it comes out.