Book Reviews

Lord of Shadows: Review and Discussion

“Fiction is truth, even if it is not a fact. If you believe only in facts and forget stories, your brain will live, but your heart will die.”

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows. I can barely form coherent thoughts after finishing this, so you can’t expect me to be secretive too. Not going to happen. Read both books, then come back!

So without spending too much time on the synopsis, Lord of Shadows picks up not long after the end of Lady Midnight. As the search for the black book continues, there are increased reports of demon activity surrounding the LA Institute. Centurions arrive to investigate, introducing us to a group of bigots called the Cohort, determined to strip Downworlders of their basic rights. There’s also the growing threat of the Unseelie King, who has figured out how to negate Shadowhunter magic and seeks war as a result of the Cold Peace.

Needless to say, a lot happened in this novel. There was never a boring moment, and it made it so easy to forget that there were 700 freaking pages to read. The pacing was much better than in Lady Midnight.

The side characters were more prominent in this one, and I loved getting to read from Kit’s and Dru’s perspectives. Kit’s bond with Ty was amazing (shipping it) and Dru’s desire to be taken seriously was interesting to read after seeing her only through her older siblings’ eyes. Getting to see TMI characters made me happy as well, especially since we get so much Malec. Can we discuss how cute their family is?

The main characters also feel more layered in this novel. Emma is fantastic as always, and she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite female protagonists. I love how impulsive she is, and the end when she chooses vengeance over mercy was just amazing. Julian also gets so much darker in Lord of Shadows, which I actually like (knowing now that we’re supposed to see his decisions as at least a little problematic is definitely changing my opinion of him as a character). Ugh. I love flawed, fucked up characters, if you couldn’t tell.

I think it’s great that Cassie chose to explore Faerie in this series, since it’s such a whimsical and dark place – and because the Faeries are such a strange, brutal race in the Shadowhunter world. Getting to see the politics of the Seelie and Unseelie courts was one of my favorite aspects of Lord of Shadows. And we get to see a more sympathetic side to faeries in this installment – Kieran and Gwyn, for example.

Speaking of politics, I give Cassie so much credit for addressing current events through the Cohort and their Downworlder registries and marriage discrimination. I highlighted so many passages that could directly relate to the current political climate of the United States, and I’m so impressed and grateful that a YA author chose to go there.

Anabel made for such an interesting antagonist, especially after the awful things Malcolm put her through. It’s easy to empathize with her (at least until the very end) – the scene where she testifies had me cringing and raging. I’m also glad she kills Malcolm – I did not want to deal with him for another book. One of the most disappointing things about Lord of Shadows was realizing he lived after the end of Lady Midnight. That type of twist is losing its interest for me.

Because it cuts off mid-scene, the ending doesn’t feel much like a genuine end, though it had me in tears for about half an hour. There were so many deaths in this book that I didn’t expect to get emotional during – thinking especially of Robert Lightwood. Oh, and can we just mention the mortal sword? When it shattered, I put down the book, mid-sob, and just went “oh.” Of course, Livvy killed me. I’d ask why, but I knew beforehand that this book was likely to break my heart.

The final installment to this trilogy is going to be a dark one, especially if we’re going to be in the Blackthorns’ heads. There are so many things to wrap up, and I’m curious to see how Cassie pulls it off. The warlock sickness, Sebastian’s weapon, disappearing Shadowhunter magic – we’re definitely in for a long, bumpy ride.

I gave Lord of Shadows a 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, and I recommend this series so much. These are the best (and most complex) books Cassie has written, and I can’t wait to see where she takes us in The Queen of Air and Darkness. I’d love to hear your thoughts and theories in the comments!

PS (Do people PS on blogs?): I couldn’t find a space for it, but I need to shoutout Arthur Blackthorn. He really doesn’t get enough love.