fantasy · review · shadowhunters · young adult

Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare

“Cristina handed Emma’s stele back to her. ‘I’ve always wanted a parabatai.’ She said a little wistfully. ‘Someone who is sworn to protect you and watch your back. A best friend forever, for your whole life.”

 

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Blurb: “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. She lives for battle. Alongside her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols Los Angeles. Where vampires party on the sunset strip and faeries – the most powerful of supernatural creatures – teeter on the edge of war with the Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries are found 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 by the faerie courts. All they 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?”

 It has been a long two year wait but Cassandra Clare is finally back in our book-loving hearts with a brand new Shadowhunter series called The Dark Artifices. Following Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn, readers are thrown back into the Shadowhunter world, but this time in a new location. The characters reside in the Los Angeles Institute meaning that those who know Cassandra’s works well are completely out of their comfort zones, minus the snippets of information about runes and parabatai that – if you have read her other series – is all too familiar. If you’re new to Cassandra’s work, or looking to get into it, this is a fantastic place to start because it lives up to the hype that has been mounting up in the final months to release.

The brilliant thing about Cassandra Clare’s writing is that you know it will make sense. Everything is planned to such an extent that there aren’t any plot holes sneaking through. Just when you think you’ve worked out what’s going to happen, she throws another curve ball at you, leaving you stumped. I’ve seen many people trying to guess the ending to Lady Midnight but no one could possibly predict the actual ending. Personally, I never saw it coming.

I will admit that I struggled to get into this book at first. While The Dark Artifices is an entirely new series, there is a massive amount of information dump for the first 100 pages. Details are given about how the Shadowhunter world works and its inhabitants but as Lady Midnight is set five years after the events in City of Heavenly Fire a lot of the information being thrown at me were things I already knew so I had to take into account that someone should be able to pick up this book not having read any of the other Shadowhunter books. I do have to say that if you haven’t read The Mortal Instruments series yet and plan to, read that first and then come back to Lady Midnight.

Emma Carstairs is being crippled by her need for the revenge of her parent’s murders. The Clave tells her the deaths were the work of Sebastian Morgenstern but Emma knows that isn’t true. When she discovers another body drowned and covered in the same unnerving markings that her parents were, her suspicions are confirmed. Julian Blackthorn is her parabatai which carries a lot of weight in the Shadowhunter world and he is one of the only people who believes Emma. Together they start to uncover the true darkness hiding behind these murders while struggling to keep their parabatai bond intact.

The idea of parabatai is something I’ve always found fascinating in this world and it was interesting to see the negative side of that play out in the sense of not being sure if you want a parabatai anymore and feeling any pain they feel, after all it’s a life-long commitment.

I didn’t reckon much to Emma Carstairs in City of Heavenly Fire and when I found out that she was going to lead this new series, I was slightly worried. I have never been so wrong. Emma is a fantastic character. She’s sassy, determined, and her narrative is so strong that she feels like a real person. Emma lives at the Los Angeles Institute with Diana Wrayburn and the blackthorn family which is quite big. As a result, Emma’s storyline is very frequently overshadowed by what is happening with the Blackthorns which really put me off the book at times. While the Blackthorn storyline was important, it just seemed to push Emma out of the picture to the point where she became more of a side character to Julian. This is what led me to giving Lady Midnight a four star rating instead of five stars.

Another character addition I enjoyed was Cristina who is staying at the institute for a year. She fit in so well to the group and provided a good branch of support for Emma whenever it was needed. She was insightful, funny and just the kind of person you’d want to have your back.

Along with the information dumps and blackthorn storyline taking over, there are so many references and even appearances from Jace and Clary that (although they had connections to Emma) it just felt like Cassie was pandering to fans of The Mortal Instruments and although I adore that series with all of my heart, I wanted this to be more about the new.

This may be an unpopular opinion but I adore the faeries and the seelie court. They’re just so difficult to believe because while they can’t lie, they can evade the truth and so you never really know what to expect from them. It keeps you on your toes while reading any chapters with them in.

Overall, Lady Midnight lives up the hype and is a fantastic adventure but isn’t without its flaws.
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book tag

Disney Book Tag

The Little Mermaid – a character who is out of their element, a fish out of water

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Carson Phillips from Struck by Lightning is in his final year of high school and in the process of applying to University. To make himself stand out more on his application he tries to set up a Literary Magazine at the school. But there’s one problem – he isn’t exactly at the top of the social food chain. He uses his outsider knowledge of the populars to try and get them to write for his magazine the only way he knows how: by blackmailing them.
Cinderella – a character who goes through a major transformation

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Pip in Great Expectations goes through one of the biggest transformations I’ve read. He starts off as a lower class orphan boy helping out in his sister’s husband in the forge. When given the opportunity to meet with the mysterious Miss Havisham things for Pip start to take a turn in a brighter direction, and soon he is heading off to London to learn how to become a Gentleman.

Snow White – a book with an eclectic cast of characters

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If you haven’t read Harry Potter then return to the rock you’ve been living under and never speak to me again! For me, it’s frankly impossible to NOT pick this book series for this one. The cast is just so eclectic from the muggles to wizards to squibs to the houses to the animagi and various species.

Sleeping Beauty – a book that puts you to sleep

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As someone with a love of literature who extended that passion on to a university degree, I’ve had to muddle my way through a lot of classics. By far the worst has been Pride and Prejudice which I’ve had to re-read a lot of times. I just find the story so boring and the characters don’t really do much to save the plot. Not to mention Mr Darcy is awful and I can’t understand why anyone could possibly want someone like him.
The Lion King – a character who had something traumatic happen to them in childhood

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The Book of Lost Things follows David, a boy who loves books -especially fairy tales – and loves reading them to his ill mother. Sadly, she dies. Twelve year old David suffers badly from this loss and my heart just went out to him. I wanted to climb into the pages and give him a hug.
Beauty And The Beast – a beast of a book (a big book) that you were intimidated by, but found the story to be beautiful

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Anyone who knows me, will know that I can read a 400 page book in two days if I just sit down and read. I came across this book not long after its release and heard it was a beautiful book (just like the cover!) so I bought a copy. It’s a monster of a book and took me over a month to read because it’s rich and well written. The writing is unbelievably beautiful and I don’t think I will ever find a book as beautiful as this one.
Aladdin – a character who gets their wish granted, for better or worse 

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One specific event in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer really sticks out at me for this one which is what I refer to as “the dog incident”. One day when Mara is coming home from school she finds a dog chained up in someone’s garden. The dog is clearly neglected and when she stands up to the owner, a not very nice man, she walks away wishing that something bad would happen to him. A few days later he is found dead in his home and the dog gets taken away to a better place.
Mulan – a character who pretends to be someone or something they’re not

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This book follows Tris, a sixteen year old who has her choosing ceremony coming up in which she must decide whether to stay or move factions. Each faction operates under a certain personality type and to help decide where you fit best you have to take a test prior to the ceremony. Tris’ results reveal that she fits into three of the five factions which makes her “Divergent.” These types of people are dangerous to society and slowly being killed off. So Tris has to hide the fact she’s Divergent and try to fit in.
Toy Story – a book with characters you wish would come to life 

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Peter Pan is my all-time favourite book and the reason I decided to pursue a life as a writer. If I could have any collection of characters come to life it would be the ones in this story. I can think of nothing better than flying through the sky with Peter Pan and fighting pirates with the lost boys.
Disney Descendants – your villain or morally ambiguous character

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One of my favourite “villains” is Camille Belcourt from The Mortal Instruments series. She’s just so sassy and evil and yay for vampires. She messes things up between Alec and Magnus but I love everything she does in this series.
For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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discussion · shadowhunters

Shadowhunters – Let’s Talk Casting!

This post was inspired by Bookbitchreviews discussion on his blog about casting for the new Shadowhunters TV show. So I thought I’d have a little discussion about it here.

First things first: the movie.

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When I first saw the movie I actually really enjoyed it, which seemed to be an unpopular opinion as most fans thought it was really mediocre. I didn’t. Until about the fifth time I watched it. Don’t get me wrong, I can still watch and enjoy it, but now I’m fully aware that there is a lot wrong with it. I thought that Lily as Clary, Jamie as Jace and Kevin as Alec were perfect casting choices and they really stood out for me. However, the other actors (mainly Jemima as Isabelle) were below par and brought the cast down. Not to mention some of the dialogue was just really cringy. I also feel like, even with it being a feature length movie, the world wasn’t explored enough. So much was just brushed over that to someone who hasn’t read the books, they probably wouldn’t understand most of it. And the people behind the scenes at the film messed up the whole “Clary still having the cup at the end” and they included information from City of Ashes which rendered a possible sequel pointless.

But alas, the media gods have bestowed on us a second chance: a TV Show. Yes, you read that right. We are the fans that are lucky enough to get both. The pilot will be airing in January 2016 on ABC Family (the fact Pretty Little Liars is on there seems to be a big mixed talking point for fans) and the main cast have already started filming!

So let’s get on to the cast!

Clary Fray played by Katherine McNamara

Katherine McNamara

Reprising the lead role of Clary is Katherine McNamara. She’s mostly known for her role as Myra in the Disney Channel movie Girls vs Monster and will be playing Sonya in The Scorch Trials which is out in Cinemas later this year. A lot of questions have been raised over her hair as Clary’s is red. But relax my friends, hopefully she’ll dye her hair for the show or at least wear a wig. Also, with any book adaptation age is always an issue: the characters are normally way too old to pass for the real age of their characters. Katherine is nineteen, so that’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to Clary’s actual age in the books. Seeing her cast in this role filled me with confidence because, although I haven’t seen any of her acting, she just looks like Clary to me and I’m really interested to see how she brings Clary to life in the show.
Jace Wayland played by Dominic Sherwood

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Reprising the role of the sassy badass male lead Jace is Dominic Sherwood.

Again, I’ve not seen any of his acting but I am aware that he played Christian in Vampire Academy which is a book-to-film adaptation. So he’s aware of what to take from the book and apply to screen in terms of character, which is a good sign. I have to admit that I actually hurt my hand at this announcement because I hit my desk in excitement. This is Jace. Forget Jamie for a minute (although I loved him as Jace despite this dividing fans) why couldn’t we have had Dom in the movie adaptation? He just screams Jace to me and paired up with Katherine holy moly do we have two fantastic leads. I cannot wait to see if their chemistry matches up.

Simon Lewis played by Alberto Rosende

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Taking on the role of Clary’s bumbling best friend is Simon is Alberto Rosende.

In terms of background, he hasn’t done much of notable worth and I have to admit that this announcement didn’t excite me much, in fact, I had practically no reaction at all. But I’m putting this down to the fact that Simon is my least favourite in the series. This casting choice brought very mixed reviews out as fans either loved or hated Alberto. Issues of race were raised but I am all for diversity and from what was discussed
in abookutopia‘s video, a lot of plot things will be different anyway. ACCEPT THAT CHANGE PEOPLE! Also, Cassandra herself took to twitter to say that the only character who’s race is specifically mentioned in the books is Magnus, so it’s all down to your perception for the character.

Now moving on to the Lightwood characters.
Isabelle Lightwood played by Emeraude Toubia

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Taking on the role of Isabelle is Emeraude Toubia who was announced at the same time as Alberto for Simon. Her background consists of small, one episode appearances in various shows but again nothing that makes her stand out. Except that my oh my is she attractive. The movie Isabelle completely fell apart for me because while obviously Isabelle in the books is quite reserved and clearly doesn’t like Clary that much, in the movie Jemima played her completely bland and emotionless leaving me feeling like she didn’t really care about the character at all: Even in the fight scene with the flame thrower she seemed really wooden. Emeraude looks like Isabelle to me. Again, more diversity in the mix but she just seems like attractive and innocent but like she could snap your neck if you get too close, which for me is what I want in Isabelle. It’s going to be interesting seeing how she bounces off Alberto in terms of their chemistry and how she works with her fabulous brother Mr Alec Lightwood.

Speaking of which….
Alec Lightwood played by Matthew Daddario

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I am sorry my dear readers, but I need to take a moment to compose myself so that I can remain coherent in this section *takes a step away from laptop to scream for several minutes and then breathe*

So here we have Matthew Daddario reprising the role of Alec Lightwood.
If you haven’t but guessed from my outburst, Alec is my favourite. So, minus Magnus I was most excited to see who would be playing him. I kept seeing trends on twitter for #whoisclary etc and I was sat there like “but I wanna know who Alec is” and now I do! (yay) His stand-out background appearances are Channing in Delivery man and Peter in Growing up and other Lies. I personally adored Kevin Zegers as Alec, I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing his character and although the general consensus is that he was “too old” I thought he was perfect. As for issues with Matthew’s eye colour, there is a thing called contacts, if the show decide to go down that route. It’s going to be really hard to let him go and accept Matthew taking over the role so Matthew, if you’re reading this, DON’T MESS UP ALEC!
Luke Garroway played by Isaiah Mustafa

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Taking on the role of Clary’s father figure Luke is Isaiah Mustafa.

He’s had the odd roles in things but was actually a former NFL practice squad wide receiver. This announcement again didn’t spark much excitement because to me, Aidan Turner is Luke, but I guess sadly, it’s time to let him go.
Valentine Morgenstern played by Alan Van Sprang

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Our new baddie Valentine in the show is Alan Van Sprang. He’s mostly known for his role as Henry II in Reign and Sir Francis Bryan in The Tudors alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers who played Valentine in the movie. My response to seeing this photo was quite simply YES! There have been discussions over whether he will have blonde hair or not but personally, as long as we don’t get the dreadlocks, I’ll be happy. 

Now for the latest cast announcement. Introducing the high warlock of Brooklyn. Get your glitter ready!

Magnus Bane played by Harry Shum JR

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I need to just… take another moment here… *walks away from laptop, runs around and jumps up and down screaming*

Here we have Harry Shum JR as Magnus Bane and oh my god am I excited. His prominent role has been Mike Chang in Glee for the past six years so this is a very different direction for him but I am just so ready for this. I enjoyed Godfrey as Magnus in the film but he just felt too old compared to how I pictured Magnus. Harry is the perfect age and look for this character. Also, massive kudos to the casting team for only auditioning asians for the role!

So there we have it, the announcements so far for the show. Obviously there are still a few more to come but they are minor characters in comparison.

Let me know what you think in the comments!