Lady Midnight, by Cassandra Clare (The Dark Artifices #1)

“A gentle boy with a gentle soul, but every soul contains its own opposite, and the opposite of gentleness was ruthlessness—the beautiful wreckage of mercy.”

This is my second time reading Lady Midnight, but, in anticipation of Lord of Shadows, I thought it was long overdue. I enjoyed this second time perhaps even more than the first one and getting to see all the little hints and clues foreshadowing the end and the big reveal was a very exciting, albeit overwhelming experience.

I will not give a summary of the book, because I doubt Lady Midnight would be anyone’s first time reading a Cassandra Clare book (If it is: Don’t. Do. It. There are spoilers for the other two series and, trust me, by the end of the book you’ll want to read those as well.). All you need to know about this book is that it takes place in the beloved world of Shadowhunters, five years after the Dark War and the events that were thoroughly covered in The Mortal Instruments series, and it deals with forbidden love. And not just any forbidden love: the forbidden love between parabatai, a pair of warriors bound together, sworn to fight side by side, something more than best friends, almost soul mates. Clare is an expert at creating this kind of relationship, this intense, unyielding love (as you know if you’ve read her The Infernal Devices series), and she has once again created a love you are bound to root for.

So here’s the thing about Clare’s books. While I always enjoy her plots and all of her plots and twists and ideas are very exciting and heartbreaking and well-thought out and nicely done, they simply can not compare to her characters. Her characterization, her character developments, the places she takes her characters and the paths they follow are always the most interesting and intense parts of her stories. I’m talking about characters that could have stood on their own, about characters that don’t need the plot to grow, they develop and learn alongside it, themselves moving the plot rather than letting the events carry them. It is a magnificent thing to witness and I cherish it every time.

Lady Midnight is no exception. Despite the sometimes overwhelming and enormous cast of characters they all stand out. There is no way you could get them mixed up and forget who is who, what they love, what they’ve done and who they are. They all have their own unique voices and struggles, strengths and weaknesses. The only character that didn’t really stand out to me was Emma. Julian, Cristina, Mark, Ty, they all overpower and outshine her. Perhaps it’s because we’ve seen characters like her a million times over. She is physically strong, a badass in the most common way, seeks revenge, only trusts those very close to her. She is not a poorly executed character nor a unlikeable one, she just doesn’t stand out.

I only have one complaint about this book, a complaint that I have for the genre as a whole. Where the hell are sapphics relationships??? In the entire Shadowhunter Chronicles world we’ve only seen one f/f romance and they are currently exiled on an island God knows where. Once again, cis white gay men occupy every place for lgbt+ characters in literature and I am sick of it. I’m sick of not seeing myself in the books that I read. Yes, both Magnus and Mark are bi, but they are not me. I need to see a bisexual girl, a lesbian, a pansexual girl, I need someone to realize that we exist as well and give us the place and representation we deserve in literature.

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