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!

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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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (Monsters of Verity #1)

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 “This Savage Song” by Victoria Schwab

3 ½-4 out of 5 stars.

 Goodreads summary:

“There’s no such thing as safe.

Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?”

“This Savage Song” ended up being a very enjoyable and conceptually unique YA read, and I liked the fact that it was a dystopian novel, but it also felt like it could belong to the fantasy genre because of it strangeness at times. The concept of Schwab’s novel felt fairly unique to me, though I can imagine that there have probably been other novels before it that took hold of the idea that humankind’s wicked actions had the ability to bring to life real monsters. But for me personally, I had yet to read a book with that concept as the main theme until I picked Victoria Schwab’s latest novel, and that made my reading experience a lot more enjoyable. Oh, and did I also mention that this was my first Victoria Schwab book?

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I know, I call myself a YA book blogger and I only just got around to one of its up-and-coming authors. I have personally never felt the need to read a Victoria Schwab novel beyond wanting to be up-to-date with the rising authors and their successful books, but I still did not get around to reading Victoria’s novel “Vicious” or her “A Darker Shade of Magic” series before this book was released. With “This Savage Song,” however, I was thoroughly intrigued by its concept, and when amazon.com dropped the hardcover price to just under $8, I knew that I had to give at least one Victoria Schwab books a try to see if I liked her writing style.

I liked the depths that Victoria’s writing reached toward in “This Savage Song,” and I found her concept of monstrous actions awakening various kinds of monstrous creatures to be quite fascinating; it made for a darker reading experience, but it almost felt brutally honest to how such crimes awaken ugly things like hate and fear in the hearts of people. I liked how in August, though, Victoria displayed the changing force of hope that comes along with the desire to do better, to be more than our former selves, which created a silver lining to her novel’s darker tone. Victoria Schwab’s writing style also added a haunting atmosphere that made her story and its concept fit quite well together.

A lot of bloggers and readers of Victoria’s most recent novel complained about the pacing, but I was actually quite happy with it. I never felt like the pacing of “This Savage Song” was too fast or too slow while I was reading it, and I enjoyed the progression of this book’s plot and how Victoria Schwab slowly revealed little details about the world that her protagonists lived in. Schwab is fantastic of writing impacting and/or slow reveals of certain places or events that have taken place, and I like that her style has the ability to create an atmosphere of mystery to surround its readers, even as they are making guesses as to what is happening. Although some of the events and surprises in this book felt a little predictable to me, I still enjoyed the atmosphere that those plot twists created in “This Savage Song.”

Despite finding the story held inside of this dark book to be interesting and Victoria’s writing to be quite good, I don’t feel like I fell completely in love with “This Savage Song.” It was well-written and fairly unique, but I just felt like there was a slight disconnect from me and the story and its characters.

August was a sweet and compelling character, but I did not fall in love with him. I was always interested in “This Savage Song” when August was present, and his struggle between embracing what he was and who he wanted to be was very compelling in my opinion, but there was just a distance between either me and this book or its characters that could not be bridged. I though that August was a sweet, interesting character, and I liked the moments where he reminded me of Jem from Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” series with his gifted violin playing, but my heart was not completely invested in him as a character.

I had expected to dislike Kate because of her desperate need to do terrible things in order to have her father notice her, but instead I just felt bad for her. I felt the same disconnect with Kate’s character that was present with August in this book, but I still enjoyed reading about her character. The little glimpses of her past were quite interesting, and the dynamic between her and August definitely kept me reading, despite the fact that I was not particularly emotionally invested in them. Neither of Victoria Schwab’s characters were under develop or lacking in dynamic, but there was a slight distance between the characters and me and that might have just been the time in my life when I read “This Savage Song.”

Victoria Schwab is a very good writer, and I can see why people like her writing so much, even though I was not deliriously in love with the first book of hers that I read. “This Savage Song” was an interesting book with a unique premise, and I am very curious as to how Victoria will continue August and Kate’s story in “Our Dark Duet.” If you are looking for a dark, dynamic dystopian novel that has streaks of fantasy in it, you should give “This Savage Song” a try.

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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!

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Mara Dyer #3)

mara dyer book

“The Retribution of Mara Dyer” by Michelle Hodkin

3 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.”

Spoilers for “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” and “The Evolution of Mara Dyer” are present and unavoidable in this review.

This book was kind of disappointing in my opinion. I had known from my sister going into “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” that it was a bit of a disappointment, especially to the die-hard fans who had waited the full two years for Michelle Hodkin to finish it. With the previous two books, I had powered through them and felt thoroughly engrossed in the plot that Michelle had been developing, but with the third book in the “Mara Dyer” trilogy, I felt kind of bored and it was easy to put it down compared to the previous two books. Despite it not being that interesting or engrossing of a book, “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” was still a fast read, and I was able to finish it in a day without a problem. I had expected to not be that enthused by it, but I was still kind of bummed for myself and for the dedicated fans by how this book felt like a chore to get through at times and did not seem to expand much farther than what was already presented in “The Evolution of Mara Dyer.”

I think one of the reasons that “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” ended up being so dull at times was that a hundred pages were spent in the asylum (which I have forgotten the name of) with Jamie, Mara, and one of the other patients, who were all trying to escape. Once they got out, half of the book was them on the run, trying to figure out where Noah was or if he was still alive, and that did make the book feel like it was going by a little faster, but not by much. Jamie definitely became the funny one of the group, and there was one scene in “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” involving Skittles that made me burst out laughing, so I did appreciate those few moments of tamed enjoyment, since Mara was not the most pleasant perspective to be stuck with. Jamie definitely helped me to keep reading, but without Noah in this book, it lost some of its dynamic and appeal which “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” and “The Evolution of Mara Dyer” had both possessed because of his presence.

Although the first half of “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” was not the most interesting to read, the latter half picked up a lot and was more exciting, mostly because of the flashback chapters from Mara’s grandmother. I had become less and less a fan of Mara as this trilogy progressed, but the alternating between her perspective and her grandmother’s once every few chapters helped to make me read this book faster and find it more interesting. I also enjoyed the appearance of Daniel, Mara’s brother, later on in this book, and I did appreciate that, despite all of the craziness that had occurred in Mara’s life, her love for her family never changed.

“The Retribution of Mara Dyer” was an okay book, but was a mildly un-climatic ending to a pretty good trilogy. I think one of the things that saddened me the most about these books and how they progressed was that Mara chose to turn into the person whom she had feared she would become when this trilogy started. While reading, Mara reminded me a lot of Juliet Moreau from Megan Shepherd’s “The Madman’s Daughter” trilogy, but in Megan’s books, I had felt engrossed in the story and fascinated by Juliet’s evolution as an individual, whereas I was not as interested in Mara’s story. These two female characters dealt with a lot of traumatizing events that caused some emotional and psychological issues, and I felt like Juliet went to a very dark place for a time, but she came out on the other side a lot stronger and wiser, choosing a better path for her life. My problem with this trilogy’s ending was that Mara went through similar things to Juliet, like getting stuck in a dark place, but instead of climbing out on the other side wanting more out of life, Mara instead seemed to like that she had become the aggressive, darker person whom she had not wanted to be originally. It just made me sad that the promise of a brighter future seemed to be overshadowed by the choices Mara made in this book, and that she was content with seeing the world through a darker perspective.

Overall, the ending of this book and trilogy felt a little bit lackluster and sad because of Mara’s shift and other spoilery things I can’t tell you about, but it also wasn’t a bad ending; it was an ending that left me wanting something more is all. “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” was not the best ending to a trilogy/series that I have read, and I understand the frustration of the fandom concerning these books. All that being said, though, it was still a fast read, and the issues that were strung through the trilogy seeming to be fairly well-resolved by the end of this book. The “Mara Dyer” books were pretty good, they just did not have the best ending.