Spoiler Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #5)

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“Empire of Storms” by Sarah J. Maas

3 1/2-4 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?”

So, I have mixed feelings toward “Empire of Storms.” Don’t get me wrong, I think that Sarah J. Maas’s fifth “Throne of Glass” novel was very well-written and had an engaging cast of characters, but I think my problem with it was the fact that I felt like I had read “Empire of Storms” before; the plot and main romance between Aelin and Rowan did not strike a chord with me because I had already seen and experience a painfully similar romance in “A Court of Mist and Fury.” Beyond the nearly verbatim lines and predictability of Aelin and Rowan’s romance, though, I also found the plot of “Empire of Storms” to be repetitive of what us readers have already read by this author, and it was frustrating to me that the supposedly suspenseful moments ended up being fairly anticlimactic. I wanted to be on the edge of my seat, but I felt like I had already read “Empire of Storms,” just under a different title, and that sometimes killed the momentum of my reading experience. If it hadn’t been for Dorian, and Elide and Lorcan, I probably would have skipped half of this book. But let me tell you, Elide and Lorcan were completely worth reading this novel.

I was completely enraptured by the dynamic that existed between Elide and Lorcan and the relationship that slowly bloomed between them in “Empire of Storms.” I adored Elide as a character because she was one of the few human characters in this book; she had no powers, no special abilities beyond her own courage and cunning, and that made her such a compelling character when compared to the “perfectly” gifted Fae and their robotic queen, Aelin. Elide was a wonderful character to read about, and I adored the chapters that were written from her perspective because she had such a dynamic voice and moving past. Elide and Lorcan probably only got about two hundred pages of screen time out of this seven hundred page novel, if even that, but every moment, every word between the two of them was impacting. If anyone were to ask, I’d say Elide was the queen of this book (Manon also, but we’ll get to here in a minute), not Aelin. And Lorcan wasn’t hurting matters, either…

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Just yes, yes to everything about this character and his relationship with Elide. Lorcan was a real tool in the previous “Throne of Glass” books, and I had had zero affection or interest in the coldhearted Fae when Sarah J. Maas first introduced him, but the first chapter of “Empire of Storms” completely changed how I perceived this character. I had forgotten how good Sarah J. Maas can be at introducing new characters and shaping them into dynamic, key-players in her series, so at first I was taken aback by how interesting and layered I found Lorcan’s character to be from the very first chapter of this book. It was nice to find a character who completely captured my attention, and after his and Elide’s entrance into “Empire of Storms, ” I was wholly invested in them as characters, as well as in their romance.

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One of the things that I loved most about Elide and Lorcan’s sections of this book was how the tension just crackled between them. It has been a while since Sarah J. Maas has written a good relationship with that kind of ever present tension that is not angsty, but it is always there, keeping you on the edge of your seat. “Heir of Fire” was a great book, second only to my beloved “Throne of Glass,” but even in that book I did not feel the same kind of tension between Rowan and Celaena/Aelin. Dorian (be still my heart) also had a romance in that book with Sorcha, and although I shipped their relationship to the ends of the earth and back while it melted my heart into a puddle of feels, theirs was a romance built on friendship and partnership, as well as blossoming affection. Dorian and Sorcha were beautiful and perfect together, but they did not have the same tension between them that Elide and Lorcan had in “Empire of Storms,” which was due to their differing circumstances. Elide and Lorcan’s sections in this book were always weighty and interesting, and the two characters and their reluctant partnership made for an insanely dynamic story. I was honestly on the edge of my seat while reading from Elide and Lorcan’s perspectives, not just because of the amazing tension and character development that they experience, but also because of everything that was at stake for both of them. Elide and Lorcan’s story was unrivaled by anything else in this book, and I honestly wish that “Empire of Storms” had just been about the two of them and their journey, rather than having six additional characters thrown into the mix. Despite my desire to read a book about just Elide and Lorcan’s journey, I still loved seeing Dorian and getting to know Manon.

My heart hurt this entire book for the wonderful but forsaken Dorian Havillard. He has been the best and most consistent character throughout this entire series, and he has been the one to keep me coming back for more torture and torment with this series. Dorian was and is my everything, and that was why it was so heartbreaking to read about how his character changed in “Empire of Storms.” Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed every moment I got with him, but I feel like Sarah has tormented and abused this character too much to not give him more page time. Dorian deserved more time in this book, and so did his fans, to rediscover the recognizable but altered boy with the sapphire blue eyes. I understand that his experiences at the end of “Heir of Fire” and through all of “Queen of Shadows” justifiably broke him, but I wanted to get to know the new, haunted King Dorian for longer than Sarah J. Maas allowed me to. I have loved Dorian as a character since the first chapter of “Throne of Glass,” and I continued to love him in this book, but I was not a fan of how Sarah J. Maas approached his shift in character. I was also very frustrated by how carelessly Sarah threw together the romance between Dorian and Manon.

After the end of “Queen of Shadows,” I was rooting for Manon and Dorian to get together, especially since Manon was the only person who believed that Dorian was still alive despite the awful things that Erawan had done to him; Manon’s also pretty epic, so it was kind of a given that I would want them to be together eventually. I was still really rooting for their relationship throughout this book, but I did not fall in love with them as a couple because Sarah J. Maas never gave them enough time! I was pretty frustrated with the lack of development in their relationship, and I felt thoroughly disappointed with how little effort Sarah seemed to put into writing the romance between these two characters. All that happened between Dorian and Manon was that she saved him a couple of times from and dying and he saved her multiple times from being killed, and then suddenly they were a couple.

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It was a bit disappointing to be anticipating these two amazing characters getting to know one another, and to help each other heal from their broken pasts, only to get a few minuscule conversations that barely even developed a connection between them. The romance of Dorian and Manon felt vague and carelessly thrown together, when what they deserved was some epic development like Lorcan and Elide received. I still loved Dorian and Manon, but there were just some things that Sarah J. Maas did that really frustrated me, and I am pretty disappointed and heartbroken over the lack of respect with which she treated Dorian, Manon, and their romance. I am also pretty angry at what this lack of development means, but we’ll get there a little bit later.

Besides Manon, Dorian, Elide, and Lorcan, there were about four or five other characters who played a central role in “Empire of Storms,” but since a blogger only has so much time to analyze a dozen characters before they drive their readers to boredom or irritation, I will just finish up talking about Aelin and Rowan.

I had really liked Celaena as a character for the first three books. I thought that she was entertaining, intelligent, clever, and caring character when she wanted to show her heart, and I enjoyed the fact that Celaena was a flawed person. She did not always have the answers or solutions to every problem, nor did she always make the right calls during certain situations, but that was a part of her draw as a heroine; she failed many times, but she never stopped getting back up and dusting herself off. Celaena was a well-developed and interesting leading lady, if a bit overpowering at times, yet it has felt like the heroine of this series has been missing since “Queen of Shadows.”

I know that Celaena was just a name that Aelin chose to hide her true identity, but I found it frustrating that the dynamic and flawed Celaena suddenly disappeared after Aelin decided to use her given name again. The experiences and trials that Celaena had gone through, her flawed personality and decision making skills, were suddenly non-existent when she donned her royal name, which just seems silly to me because our experiences and memories make us who we are. Why did Aelin suddenly have everything figured out when Celaena did not? The swagger and charm of Celaena seemed to disappear with Aelin’s rise to power, and now I find everything Aelin-related to be very anticlimactic because I know as a reader that she already has the perfect plan up her sleeve, and that she’s going to make it out on the other side smelling like a rose. Even her romance was too good to be true with Rowan.

Personally, I had really liked Rowan in “Heir of Fire.” Dorian shall forever hold my heart, but it was really nice to have a sexy adult male as a lead character. Rowan had presence in every scene that he was in during Heir of Fire,” and I am going to be honest, I enjoyed the fact that he did not take crap from Celaena and occasionally (but only when justified) put her in her place. I was even rooting for their relationship after finishing the third “Throne of Glass” book, but when “Queen of Shadows” came out, their romance just did not seem as good as it was in “Heir of Fire.” I also felt like Rowan got less time to shine than he deserved in the fourth book because of Aelin overwhelming the show with her queenlyness. Because of the previous book, I was not particularly excited for a lot Rowan time in “Empire of Storms,” so I was quite surprised when I found myself liking this character again.

At first, I felt like I was greeted with a watered down version of the Rowan that I had liked in “Heir of Fire,” especially when he was around Aelin, but as this book went on, I kind of started to like Rowan again. He and Dorian had this epic bro-cation, and it was interesting reading how much the two of them had in common, other than Celaena/Aelin, with their first loves being murdered and losing their way a bit. Rowan all by himself was great in this book; he was a strong and decisive character, but it was the romance between him and Aelin that really felt kind of lame.

“Where have I have seen this romance before?” That was the question I kept asking myself every time Aelin and Rowan had a moment together, and the answer was always the same: I had already seen it in “A Court of Mist and Fury.” For all of you who adore the romances between Feyre and Rhysand and Aelin and Rowan, I am truly happy for you. I think my problem with these two romances, though, is how identical both of them are. Both Feyre and Aelin went through a couple of boys before they got to there current romantic interests, and now they are perfectly matched to their perfect life-long mate, and they are all going to live happily ever after (for all eternity) because their all freaking Faeries! Oh, yes, and let me throw a spoiler for the end in for you! Aelin ended up offering herself to her foe and was taken captive by enemy forces at the very end, and Rowan vows to not rest until he finds and saves her. Sound familiar?

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* sighs * Please, Sarah, I beg of you to throw in something that is not exactly like your other series, or something that is at least a tiny bit less predictable! I’m sorry to all of you who adore the romances in Sarah’s two series, but I just don’t feel any sort of attachment to either couple.

In the end, I enjoyed “Empire of Storms,” but I did not love it nor did I feel held in suspense by its ending. I have a strong sense of what is going to happen in the final book, and everything that Sarah J. Maas wrote in “Empire of Storms” has led me to the conclusion that she is going to kill off Dorian in the sixth “Throne of Glass” book. Aelin will get her happily ever after, Elide and Lorcan will probably survive, (or he’ll redeem himself by dying *sobs*), and Dorian will sacrifice himself in order to make the lock that can save everyone he loves. * sobs harder * It just doesn’t seem fair that this amazing, beautiful character will get the short end of the stick by being the emotional martyr of the series. Someone important but expendable (in the the author’s eyes) always gets sacrificed in the end of a series, and Dorian has the emotional connection to bring tears to the audience. He is also technically expendable because he does not have a solidified romantic relationship with anyone (maybe the romance that Sarah ended up giving him was vague and haphazardly thrown together for a reason!). My heart and soul have dreaded this truth for about four books now, and I feel like Sarah is just that cruel of a writer that she would kill off this wonderfully written character in order to preserve her beloved Aelin.

Due to my dread of impending events, I honestly do not know if I can read the last book. Dorian was my reason for continuing on with this series, and I kind of just want to ignore any ending where he does not get his own happy ending.

Besides my whole Dorian theory and Aelin’s predictably happy ending, I did enjoy reading “Empire of Storms.” Elide and Lorcan were the heart of this book because they were such amazingly dynamic characters with an insanely gripping story, and I am anxious to see where Sarah takes them (if I can somehow pick up the last book). Dorian was still absolutely fantastic, and I’ve enjoyed watching him come into his own over the course of this series; he has always been dedicated and invested in protecting his friends and people, and he did what was necessary in this book to get business done. I do hope that Sarah J. Maas develops his and Manon’s relationship more, because there was a lot of potential for the two of them together. I think that my only major problem with this book (besides the whole Dorian thing, and the plot holes that I don’t have the energy to discuss right now) was that Aelin felt kind of worthless toward the plot. I felt like this massive book would have kept moving without her presence, and I might have liked it more if there had been King Rowan and not Queen Aelin as the star of this series. I also found things involving Aelin to be very predictable, which killed the suspense of this book for me. We all know that Aelin will survive and rise again, so there’s nothing to be anxious about concerning her character and her relationship with Rowan. Despite this book’s predictability, it was a fast read, and I did find myself enjoying most of it. “Empire of Storms” couldn’t beat the first three books of this series in quality or original plotline, but it was still interesting and enjoyable to read.

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Les Petits Bonheurs #29…

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These Latin quotes always remind me of Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” trilogy, and it’s about that time when I do my annual rereads. ;-D

Les Petits Bonheurs #27…

Labor Day weekend was pretty crazy this year! School and work have kept me busier than I would like, and I wish that I had the energy to read for fun after finishing work and studying. Sadly, it has been about a month since I have picked up a book for enjoyment, but that did not stop me from going crazy at Barnes and Noble this last week with buying every book and vinyl record that I could get my hands on. Yeah, call me greedy, but when there are amazing sales and 40% off the vinyl soundtrack of Disney’s”Cinderella,” one must become a little cupide, as the French say. And let me tell you, the music from “Cinderella” has never sounded better than it does on vinyl, and I just adore relaxing to this classic soundtrack!

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Over the weekend, I also decided to get another vinyl by one of my favorite artists, and I might have also bought, like, five other books. For blog related research, of course…

I’m still cringing at how much I spent, but seriously, how can a girl resist the most magical store on earth when it has a 40% coupon just calling her name? It came to the point where my battery had to die on my computer before I could stop purchasing books and vinyl albums.

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Yeah, we’re going to be paying those items off for a little bit, but it was a wild ride! Thanks for visiting my blog today, and hopefully I’ll see you soon with a new review!

Fangirl Friday #19…I’m in Love, and I Don’t Care Who Knows It

So, I know that this is technically old news, but I am extremely excited about Renée Ahdieh’s upcoming book, which is slated for May of 2017. I love Renée’s style of writing and storytelling, and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for her next series, especially since it is supposed to be a retelling of one of my favorite stories and Disney movies of all time. Oh, did I not mention yet that Renée is writing a YA retelling of “Mulan”?

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I heard the news from my sister and I was overjoyed that not only was Mulan going to get the time of day that she has always deserved, but also because Renée Ahdieh is the best author to retell her amazing story. This whole situation is LEGIT, and I already pre-ordered Renée Ahdieh’s amazing sounding book. Alright, time for the title and summary!

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Amazon summary:

“From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Tamora Pierce.
 
The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.”

After reading this summary, I feel like all that I am missing in my life book-wise now is a “Pocahontas” retelling from one of my favorite authors…*sighs* I’m not sure what to do with my life until “Flame in the Mist” comes out. *sits and waits 8 months for book’s release.*

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Les Petits Bonheurs #26…

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“Lire, c’est toujours une bonne idée.”

(Reading is always a good idea.)

This is my goal for the weekend: a delightful book with some powerful coffee in hand, and no school books or work to be dealt with. Crossing our fingers…

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My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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“My Lady Jane” by Cynthia Hand,

Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

5 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

I have been a Lady Janie since Cynthia Hand and her co-authors first announced that they were writing a historical retelling of Lady Jane Grey’s life together, and that they were going to put a “The Princess Bride” twist on historical fact (i.e. minimal historical accuracy. ;-D). I have been on board with Cynthia, Brodi, and Jodi’s idea since the beginning, completely geeking out whenever a new announcement for their work-in-progress popped up on twitter or in my email (yep, it’s a fangirl life for me!), and I am here today (a month later than I intended) to tell you all that “My Lady Jane” was a success!

“My Lady Jane” was utterly ridiculous in the best possible way, and I am so happy that the authors of this novel were able to (fantastically, I might add) pull off writing such a charming and humorous story. Books like “My Lady Jane’ can be terribly difficult to write because of the ridiculousness and improbability of their storylines; the point is for them to be that way, obviously, but if the authors can’t get the humor across to their readers, then the whole story falls flat. “My Lady Jane,” however, was a success because of how adorable and charming the characters were, and the humor and situational comedy came across quite perfectly for the kind of story that these authors were telling. I also adored the fact that it did indeed remind me of “The Princess Bride,” which was one of my favorite movies growing up (wait for me, my dear Wesley!), and there were definitely moments where I saw the book by William Goldman influencing this novel’s style of writing as well (lots of parenthesis framing hilarious inner monologues or comedic observations of the authors). The odes to one of my favorite movies and its comical book were fantastic, and I definitely found myself laughing at the randomness of certain moments and the amusing situations that the characters were placed in. But what truly made me love “My Lady Jane,” besides this novel’s wonderful cover and alluring deckled-edged pages, was how charming and endearing Cynthia, Brodi, and Jodi’s characters were.

Lady Jane Grey was a fantastic heroine to read about, whether she be the girl from the history books or the one that this book portrayed. Jane was clever, adorable, and her dedication to being honest and kind to those around her made her a very likeable main character, and I really enjoyed her perspective in “My Lady Jane.” I thought that Jodi Meadows did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the real young woman whose life was cut short by the blood/political feud between the Catholic Mary and the Protestants in charge of England, and even though I knew the historical facts of Jane’s life that these lovely authors were about to wreak havoc on, I felt the anxiety of Jane’s dire situation. Jane was a pawn in the hands of a bunch of lecherous dirt bags who cared more about power than what the country actually needed, and I think that made Jane kind of heroine who is easy to root for. The truth behind the real girl’s life is heartbreaking, so I was happy that this book took, um, some liberties with the historical details recorded about Lady Jane Grey’s life, while still keeping the heart of the girl the same. Jane was smart and caring, and I appreciated the mix of seriousness with comedy that the authors of “My Lady Jane” put into her situation. Added to the pleasure of reading Jane’s perspective was that I got to see her relationship with Gifford develop, albeit comically, over the course of this novel, and I ended up really enjoying Gifford as a character as well.

Gifford (A.K.A. G) was beyond entertaining to read about. There was a fabulous comedy behind this character’s personality as well as his situation, and I definitely laughed out loud a few times with the things he did, or the kinds of trouble he got into by becoming Jane’s husband. But beyond just being funny, I liked Gifford because he had a good heart and he respected Jane despite their differences in opinion at times. Gifford experienced a fair amount of character growth over the course of this book, and I liked the fact that he had a couple of moments where he had to choose to let Jane go to do what she needed to, even though all he wanted to do was protect her. I also liked the fact that Brodi Ashton wrote him some very real reactions in the moments where he was faced with only difficult choices that were in opposition to his desire to protect Jane. Those situations caused him to do something that wasn’t necessarily okay, but was an understandable response to seeing someone he loved in danger. The give and take of Jane and Gifford’s relationship made me extremely happy, and I thought that how this book’s authors dealt with that specific moment between Gifford and Jane and its repercussions was really well done.

I liked the whole progression of this book and where Gifford’s character went. I loved the fact that this book and its characters made me laugh and even tear up just a little at times, and I really appreciated the little touch of history and fiction that Cynthia, Brodi, and Jodi added with Gifford etching Jane’s name into the wall of his cell in the Tower of London. That made me cry just a little bit when it happened in “My Lady Jane,” and I cried some more when I figured out that it was true.

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Jane and Gifford’s relationship was pretty hilarious to begin with, but I liked the fact that I shipped them together from the beginning of “My Lady Jane” despite the lack of romance at times, and I only grew more fond of them as individuals and a couple as this book progressed. I liked that they discovered a little bit of the give and take of a partnership, and even though “My Lady Jane” did not take course over much time at all, I never felt like anything was rushed or forced with the romance. It was mildly torturous, but I also liked the “Ladyhawke” moments that played a part in how much time Gifford and Jane spent together; it built the tension a little bit, which kept me reading in order to get to those brief but heartwarming moments of them together! Jane and Gifford’s relationship was sweet and endearing, and I thought that this novel’s authors did a fantastic job of balancing the comedic themes in it with things like Jane and Gifford’s relationship, which added depth to this story so that it was not only fun ridiculousness.

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Edward was a good character, but he wasn’t my favorite one in “My Lady Jane.” His perspective was pretty entertaining and engaging most of the time, but it took some time for him to grow on me, unlike Gifford and Jane whom I instantly connected with as a reader. Edward experienced some good character growth over the course of this book, and I think that I will like him more as a character when I read “My Lady Jane” again. Being impatient for another character’s perspective definitely puts a slight damper on the growing relationship between another character and their reader, and that was kind of what happened with Edward for me; I wanted more of Jane and Gifford, so I did not enjoy Edward’s perspective as much as I would have if I had not been constantly looking forward to the other characters’ point of views. Despite him not being my favorite character, Edward did have an entertaining perspective to read from, and I think that my next time reading “My Lady Jane” I will like him more as a character.

“My Lady Jane” was truly a joy to read, with its fantastic characters, great comedic timing, and happy twist on a sad story that has been collecting dust in the history books for quite some time. I loved Jane as a character, and this book made me want to discover more about who the real Lady Jane Grey was, which made me quite happy; any book that fascinates me enough to cause me to seek out historical fact is a winner in my opinion. Gifford exceed my expectations for a hilarious, sweet, and endearing character, and I adored him and Jane as a couple. “My Lady Jane’ was the perfect balance of funny, awkward, and sweet for me, and I can’t wait to see what this trio of authors will write together next time.

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

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“Lady Midnight” by Cassandra Clare

4 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?”

Alright, it is high time for a review of “Lady Midnight,” especially since I finished it a month and a half ago. *sighs* At least I am keeping up with reading, if not reviewing!

Wow, “Lady Midnight” was a big book. Personally, large books do not intimidate me, and I actually like the fact that I get more book for the same amount of money, which is the deal-seeker in me coming out. The only problem with large books (more than 500 pages) is that there is a recovery time for the hands and wrists after reading one. I was prepared for this after seeing the page count of Cassandra’s newest book, but I was personally not prepared for the C.C.H. (Cassandra Clare Hand is an acute case of carpel tunnel that only reading “Lady Midnight” can produce) that ensued after I finished reading this book. All that being said, just have a wrist brace on hand when you pick up Cassandra’s latest book, and you’ll be fine.

Dramatics aside, after having finished the monstrous beauty that is “Lady Midnight,” I had (almost) no regrets. Cassandra Clare has written another wonderful and adventurous novel, and I was so excited to get to know some of the new characters that she had written in “The Dark Artifices” trilogy. Per usual, I was just as anxious about meeting the characters as I was excited to get to know them, because sometimes I just don’t connect with the individuals in new series of a well-liked author, even though I really want to. But I shouldn’t have worried, because Emma Carstairs and all of the Blackthorns were such great characters, and I fell in love with them while reading “Lady Midnight.” I personally don’t think that any of Cassandra Clare’s other characters, past, present, or future, could ever take William Herondale’s place in my heart, and no parabatai bond is as precious to me as his and Jem’s, but I still felt myself fall a little in love with everyone in “Lady Midnight.”

I liked Emma Carstairs a lot, not just because she was a distant relation to Jem, but also because she was a fun, albeit wild, heroine who kept me interested in “Lady Midnight” as I read her parts of this book, and her past was as interesting as it was heartbreaking. I still have not read Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments” series, so when I first started “Lady Midnight” I was a tiny bit lost with some of back stories of certain characters and with what happened in the war that went on before this book began. Emma’s background was tied closely to “The Mortal Instruments,” so it did take me a little bit of time to put the pieces of her past together, how some things went down in the other series, and how Emma ended up becoming a part of the Blackthorn family. Once I kind of deciphered those few things, I was able to follow along easily with what was going on within the Shadowhunter world, and how Emma and the Blackthorns were affected by the Cold Peace that came about as a result of the war. Cassandra did a good job of not making some of the rehearsed facts about the Shadowhunters become mundane (no pun intended!) or arduous to read, and I feel that anyone, regardless of whether they’ve read “The Mortal Instruments” or not, could easily pick up “Lady Midnight.” Oddly enough, though, I do think that reading “The Infernal Devices” could be far more helpful to readers coming into this book because of how those events people in Cassandra’s historical Shadowhunter novels are tied so closely to everything in “Lady Midnight.” It is not absolutely necessary to read “The Infernal Devices,” but it seemed like, having read that trilogy, I was able to understand the underlining tones that were going on within this book, because the history behind “The Infernal Devices” was not described or eluded to, whereas the events of “The Mortal Instruments” were broken down for readers in “Lady Midnight.” All of that being said, I felt that jumping right into Emma’s story was pretty easy, and I thought that she had a much more enjoyable and active protagonist, especially when compared to Tessa Gray.

The only thing that really saddened me about “The Infernal Devices,” other than its soul-shattering and sob-worthy ending, was that Tessa ended up being the kind of female character who felt mildly worthless and ineffective. I know the story was technically about her, but I felt like Will and Jem, as well as the other Shadowhunters, carried the story so effectively all by themselves that if Tessa had disappeared from the trilogy, I would not have felt impacted by her departure. With Emma, however, I felt like she played a truly important role in how the story of “Lady Midnight” unfolded, and despite not always agreeing with her brash behavior, I appreciated the fact that she was an active protagonist who was fairly impacting. Although I liked Emma, the characters who really stole my heart were the Blackthorn siblings, especially Julian.

Thirty pages into “Lady Midnight,” and I was in love with Julian as a character. Call it insta-love on my part, but I felt so emotionally attached to this male character only a few chapters in that I became really invested in this fiercely loyal and loving young man by the time I finished Lady Midnight.” His past and present circumstances tugged at my heartstrings, and I couldn’t help but feel the pain and weight that Julian carried around on his shoulders due to the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings his whole life. He was only seventeen or eighteen-years-old, yet he’d had to take on the immense responsibility of keeping his family together when no one else would after the Shadowhunter war ended, and his story and love for his siblings, the sacrifices he had to make in order to take car of his family, made him a truly compelling character. I liked Emma, but I loved and was rooting for Julian throughout “Lady Midnight,” and although this book was supposed to be about Emma’s parents’ murder, it really turned out to be a Blackthorn book. The summary for this book might have been slightly false advertising, but I was personally happy that “Lady Midnight” focused mostly on Julian and his family. Julian was an amazing character, and I thought that Cassandra’s choice to make him an artist was a good one because his gifting and love for it helped to make him feel even more rounded out as a protagonist and hero of this story. I fell for Julian while reading this book for a lot of reasons, but it was mostly how much he cared about his siblings and the dynamic that existed between them that made him such an interesting and compelling character.

The interactions between Julian and his family were what took “Lady Midnight” from being a good book to becoming a great one; I don’t know if any of Cassandra’s other books could capture my heart quite like the “Clockwork Angel” and the “Clockwork Prince” did, but Julian and his sisters and brothers made “Lady Midnight” come quite close to the mark. Each of the Blackthorn siblings were well-written, and I loved their relationship with each other because it felt genuine and real, and everything they went through over the years and getting their brother Mark back, while not exactly getting him back made my heart ache for all of them. Each of the Blackthorns were wonderfully written, and I adored every interaction I got between them and Julian! They were all such great secondary characters, and I loved that they added so much to the story that unfolded in “Lady Midnight.”

Although the Blackthorns made this book for me, I also ended up loving the addition of Cristina Rosales, who was a new Shadowhunter in the L.A. Institute. I thought that she was a cool and very likeable female character, and I wish that there had been a little bit more of this book told from her perspective, since it was so large. Cristina had an interesting and slightly hidden past, which I thought added another great dynamic to this book.

“Lady Midnight” was a large book, nearly reaching seven hundred pages, but I felt like it was well-paced in the fact that I kept reading and was interesting in the story and its characters, despite having my favorites. I honestly don’t have a lot of complaints about this book, but the one thing that did end up bothering me was the romance between Julian and Emma.

At first, I was really rooting for Emma and Julian as a couple, and I was quite torn up over the fact that they were both such awesome parabatai, but because of that bond, they were also allowed to pursuing a romantic relationship. One of the frustrating things in YA books, especially with a story line like “Lady Midnight,” is that miscommunication is used as a plot device most of the time. In this particular situation, I understood why Emma and Julian both kept their feelings secret, because telling each other would honestly do nothing but wreck their relationship as parabatai. I understood why they kept their feelings hidden from one another, and I was shipping them for the first half of “Lady Midnight,” enjoying the tension of untold truths, and even knowing that they both cared for each other when they were both unaware of that fact. But after about halfway through this book, the romance progressed, happening so suddenly and all at once that I was a little bit frustrated because it seemed irrational and to almost belittled what they had. There had been tension throughout the book, but once they had their moment, everything came crashing down around them because they acted without thinking. I know they had history from being friends, so it was not insta-love or anything, but it just happened so fast that it made me like their relationship less because I wanted them to have a few sweet moments, like the scene where they dance together, before it fizzled and crumbled to pieces. I felt like this relationship was over before it ever began, and that was a little disappointing to me, because I had really liked the idea of them together.

Overall, I really liked “Lady Midnight.” I thought that it was a great start to what seems like a promising trilogy, and I really enjoyed the L.A. setting mixed with the world of the Shadowhunters. I found the faerie-related things (the Cold Peace, faerie history, etc) to be quite interesting, and I, as you already know, fell in love with all of the Blackthorns. Their family dynamic and how they got their brother, Mark, back only to have to fight for him to stay was as heartbreaking as it was beautiful, and I adored all of the siblings and thought that they gave this book heart. Julian stole a little piece of my heart away in “Lady Midnight,” but I am anxious to see where Cassandra Clare is taking him after the ending of this book; it did not end on a happy note, and I just hope that he does not go to a super dark and broody place in the second book of “The Dark Artifices” trilogy. “Lady Midnight” was a great new installment to Cassandra’s Shadowhunter world, and if you liked any of her other series or fantasy novels in general, you should definitely pick up this book!