Rated Reads

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, book 1)

by Cassandra Clare

Rated: Moderate

The Shadowhunters, humans with angel blood who fight demons, return in another series by Cassandra Clare. Those who have loved her other series (set in New York and Victorian London) featuring the defenders of humankind (or “mundanes,” as Shadowhunters call humans) will no doubt want to read this new one, set this time in current-day Los Angeles.

Teens Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn, who have both lost their parents, live with Julian’s siblings in the Los Angeles Institute. Since her parents died five years earlier in a strange way, with odd markings on them and dumped in the ocean, Emma has been trying to figure out who was responsible for their deaths, even though the Clave says they were just killed by Sebastian, as so many others were in the Dark War. Julian has taken on the job of raising his younger brothers and sisters, since his older brother and sister, both half-faeries, are absent. Helen has essentially been banished to monitor the Clave’s wards on a distant island; Mark was taken by the Faeries during the Dark War and made to join the Wild Hunt.

When bodies with similar markings to those of her parents start turning up, Emma and Julian want to investigate. But some of the victims are faeries, and the terms of the Cold Peace dictate they cannot be involved with anything faerie. Then, Mark is temporarily returned to them by the faeries, with a bargain that he can stay if he wishes — if they can solve the murders.

Naturally, as is typical of these books, these demon-fighting teens get involved where they’re not supposed to be, and not only are they in grave danger, but they have to keep their work a secret and can’t get any help from the Clave.

The book explores the difficulties that Mark faces being back in the human/Shadowhunter world rather than riding on the Wild Hunt. It also explores the close relationship of Emma and Julian, who are parabatai and best friends but who seem to be feeling more for each other. Their parabatai bond, however, forbids them from ever being romantically involved. Forbidden love? Yep, that’s another staple of Clare’s books.

I did love being back in the Shadowhunter world but I had a few quibbles. One, there wasn’t quite as much humor in this book as there was in City of Bones and other initial entries in the Mortal Instruments series. Two, these are teenagers. They admittedly have a great deal of responsibility, much more than the average human teen. But in these series, and in this new book particularly, they pretty much go about their business without much adult guidance and restraint. While that is a plot point here, actually, it still is an issue. Romantic relationships go from kissing to sex remarkably quickly and without any concern about the ramifications. And there are a lot of homosexual and bisexual characters having intimate relations as well. This isn’t a series for young teens to read without at least having discussions with parents about these topics.

Rated: Moderate, for occasional mild and moderate language, violence, and sexual activity with very little detail. Themes also are more mature ones, as mentioned above.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, book 1)
  • by Cassandra Clare
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: