Soul or Soul Mate? Can One Survive Without the Other?
As I sit down to write this review, I am still reeling from the harsh blow Cassandra Clare delivers to her readers in the last few paragraphs of Lord of Shadows. Although, for my fellow Shadowhunter devotees, this tendency for gut punches towards the end of a book, should make this no huge surprise. But in my opinion, she has outdone herself this time…so consider yourself warned!
Lord of Shadows continues the story of Emma Carstairs, and her parabati, Julian Blackthorn, focusing mostly on their forbidden love and the resulting struggles. The book also features important cameo appearances from a wide range of beloved characters from previous series, including Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane, Clary Fairchild and Jace Herondale, and a teasing mention of Tessa Herondale-Carstairs and Jem Carstairs. The all of seem poised to play large roles in future installments in the Dark Artifices series…which makes me quite excited! As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that the Unseelie King has a plan to bring an end to the Shadowhunters and possibly to the Downworld itself, leading the Seelie Queen to offer the Shadowhunters an alliance. This proves difficult, however, because the Clave has been close to taken over by a group called the Cohort, which wants to discriminate against and oppress the Downworld, believing that all races within it are unclean. The book is packed with plot twists, scheming, witty hints, and steamy romance…ending on a cliff hanger and also a note of tragedy. It truly is Cassandra Clare at her very best!
The Dark Artifices, and Lord of Shadows itself, is undoubtable Cassandra Clare’s darkest series/book to date, featuring some pretty grizzly murders, and morally rotten bad guys. The inclusion of a storyline detailing how ugly and divisive politics can become when there is too much of a focus on the us vs. them mentality, also adds a more realistic grit to the plot than was present in past Shadowhunter series. The Cohort, for example, is very reminiscent of the Nazis. Plans to register the warlocks is more than a little similar to the Nazis forcing Jewish people to wear yellow stars. Just as plans to lock up werewolves sounds awfully close to opening concentration camps. Yet the book also reminds us that we can’t pigeon hole people based off of a stereotype, and that redemption can always be found in those who see the worth in all people, and who are willing to fight and sacrifice for the wellbeing of others…important lessons to learn. As a history teacher, I was glad to see these themes included, since hopefully it will be thought provoking to young readers. I was also glad to see the inclusion of a transgender character (yes, I know this is very controversial, and I am not aiming to offend anyone), since this might give young people struggling with such identity questions a character that resembles themselves…which I believe is very important.
All in all, I highly recommend this book, and the series itself. Cassandra Clare has definitely reached a new level with The Dark Artifices, and I look forward to the next installment!