- Page Count: 699
- Release Date: May 23, 2017
- My Rating: 5 stars
Would you trade your soul mate for your soul? A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.
Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?
Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.
When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.
These books seriously just keep getting better and better. The writing has improved SO much and the characters here are my absolute favorites. And… I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I actually liked Jace and Clary.
But just like with Lady Midnight, I was more into the actual characters than whatever the larger plot arc was. I guess I don’t care that much about Malcom, Annabel, the book, the Shadow Lord, or most of that drama. Pretty sure anything (or nothing) could be happening and I’d be just as entertained because THESE PRECIOUS CHARACTERS are all so wonderful and I adore them so much.
Cassandra Clare really is the queen of love triangles and forbidden romance, though (which hasn’t always worked for me in the past). And even if the angst did get a bit excessive at times, I still rolled my eyes affectionately instead of in any sort of annoyance… because I actually CARE about everyone. Ughhh that ending wrecked me.
I don’t want to get into any of the plot or spoil anything, so I’ll just say it was really fun to see Faerie, London, familiar old faces, and get to know the current characters better. One of them turns out to be transgender and I thought it was handled really well (but will defer to others who can say whether that’s the case). I just love how much wonderful rep these stories have!
I really do love every single character, but Ty is seriously one of my all-time favorites from any book. I’m still so thrilled to see such a caring, badass, complex kid who happens to be autistic. It’s not his whole personality, nor is it something the story tries to shy away from or handle any differently. It’s approached so matter-of-factly that I just want to hug the book. And Kit’s relationship with Ty is amazing… I ship them as friends or a couple or whatever. I don’t care. I just love them together so much.
And I know I’m not spending time here gushing over Emma & Julian or Mark & Cristina & Kieran but the feels are still there.
I also really admired how the plot managed to weave in obvious parallels for current social issues in a way that felt authentic instead of like some message beating you over the head. There’s a fascist Cohort faction of the council that supports the Downworlder registry, believes they speak for a silent majority, and
“seek to return the Clave to a lost golden age. A time that never was, when Downworlders knew their place and Nephilim ruled in harmony. In truth, the past was a violent time, when Downworlders suffered and those Nephilim who possessed compassion and empathy were tormented and punished along with them.”
“When a decision like [the Cold Peace] is made by a government, it emboldens those who are already prejudiced to speak their deepest thoughts of hate. They assume they are simply brave enough to say what everyone really thinks.”
So that was one of the stronger parts of the plot. And I also love how much mythology and clever references are woven into these stories. Even the totally unintentional ones… like the Mirror of Galadriel scene. Ha. But for real, I had a lot of fun with this book and just wish we didn’t have to wait so long for the next one!