Book Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
Image Description: Book Cover for Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Shows a dark haired man underwater, holding a sword, and a tilted view of London Bridge.

(Goodreads)

OH MY GOD

What a fantastic book! My heart! The ending! I mean, logically I should have been expecting everything to end terribly because that way people are definitely going to buy the third book, and you get to leap into high stakes, high drama stuff from the get-go with the final book of the series, but OH WOW.

So many bad things happen! And also, I don’t know, I haven’t been reading many series lately and so I was reading along thinking, ‘Ah, hopefully this clever plan will work!’ or ‘This seems like a potential resolution!’

Poor fool.

To clarify for those of you who don’t know, Lord of Shadows is the second book in Cassandra Clare’s latest Shadowhunter series. The first book, Lady Midnight, followed Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn family, who live in the Los Angeles institute, trying to solve a series of mysterious murders.

I think Clare has a real talent for inventing a seemingly never-ending array of believable, interestingly flawed characters. Often I can love an author’s writing, and their characterisation, but I find myself thinking ‘Oh, Character A in author’s new series is just like Character B in their previous series!’ It makes sense that a lot of authors enjoy writing a particular type of character or are drawn to specific archetypes, and so it isn’t something I complain about particularly, but Clare’s Shadowhunter Universe is SO BIG at this point and contains SO MANY characters and I pretty much adore them all and find them all to be unique and intriguing in their own ways.

I ADORE Cristina in Lord of Shadows. I feel like I haven’t seen another mature, capable, kind-hearted, elegant lady (who incidentally can kick demon ass) in YA for a while. Many, many female characters in YA are insecure, many are snarky, many are just quite self-involved. None of these things are bad for a character to be, and I appreciate that if the Cristina personality type was seen as the default female character then it would probably recreate the kind of unhealthy pressures that women have historically experienced to be beautiful, elegant, polite, perform the majority of emotional labour for the people around them etc. But I love her as a character. She is fantastic. I want her and Mark and Kieran to get together. Cristina has the communication skills to make it work! I have some doubts about the boys’ communication skills, but at least everyone in the group seems to think highly of the others. Triads for the win!

I also loved seeing more of Kit, Livvy and Ty, and how they interacted. Ty is a great example of Clare’s attempts to make bookworld reflect reality and have a diverse range of characters. It also made it so heartwarming that Kit, coming from the mundane world, immediately understands and accepts Ty’s behaviour in a way that I doubt anyone outside his family ever has.

I actually found the Emma and Julian relationship to be one of the least interesting set-ups in the book, possibly because I wasn’t expecting to see much movement past what was established in Lady Midnight.

PLOTWISE, as you can see above I was obviously destroyed by the ending, which was brilliant. Without giving too much away, everything comes really close to coming together and then fails spectacularly. Overall I really enjoyed how the plot unfolded and the various mysteries, the sense of danger was really good and it felt like everyone was dealing with more difficult situations than they had in Lady Midnight, particularly Kit, Ty and Livy who are taking more initiative and responsibility in this book. The series continues with some great exploration of core themes of romantic love, family, death, and hatred towards downworlders (which can be seen as analogous to various ‘isms’).

And now excuse me while I flail around miserably awaiting the next book.

HIGHLY RECOMMEND FOR LOVERS OF YA URBAN FANTASY. READ LADY MIDNIGHT FIRST IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY

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