Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare is the long awaited finale in The Dark Artifices trilogy. I am so heartbroken that after a decade of being in love with anything Shadowhunter related, I’m going to have to give this newest book a negative review. I’ve reviewed the second book in this trilogy, Lord of Shadows, but I have not reviewed the first book, Lady Midnight, or any of the other series. I read them before I started my blog but I plan to review them this year. The Dark Artifices is a spin off series that takes place after The Mortal Instruments. There is also a prequel trilogy called The Infernal Devices that takes place before The Mortal Instruments. That’s the basics of all the series so now it’s time for the synopsis and then my review. This review will be filled with spoilers.
What if damnation is the price of true love?
Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.
The Dark Artifices has never been my favorite series. I think that’s mainly because I’m still in love with The Mortal Instruments and those main characters. Of course, Jace, Clary and the gang are mentioned frequently throughout this series and play a large role in the story but the focus isn’t on them. Even though The Dark Artifices were not my favorite, I still really enjoyed the first two books in this spin off trilogy, until this one. I’m going to split this review into bullet lists of what I loved and hated.
- As mentioned above, I’ve been crazy about the Shadowhunter world for a decade so anytime I get to revisit it, I’m happy.
- Cassandra Clare has always had a very engaging, but easy to follow, writing style. The story just grips you and holds your attention.
- Tessa and Jem are going to have a baby and I am ECSTATIC about that.
- I literally shrieked when it was revealed that Ash is Sebastian Morgenstern’s son. I loved Sebastian in the original series. A well written villain can be just as, if not more so, compelling than a hero. A part of me always hated that he had to die which brings me to my next point…
- Thule was one of the best parts of this book. I loved seeing the alternate universe where Sebastian won the battle but that part was over relatively quickly compared to the massive size of this book.
- I really like Kit Herondale’s storyline and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him in the next spinoff series, The Wicked Powers.
- My number one issue is my apathy toward these characters. I LOVED the characters in The Mortal Instruments. I felt like I truly knew them and cared about them because they were just that well written. After three books, I still don’t care about the Blackthorns (and the various characters surrounding them). Don’t get me wrong, they had their endearing and interesting moments but I still don’t feel like I know them. I know the most about Julian and Emma, because they’re our main protagonists, but I could tell you maybe three things about each of the other characters in this series.
- Speaking of characters, there’s definitely plenty in this book. There’s a constant bombardment of new characters, character point of views and scene changes. One moment you’re in the midst of battle with Julian and Emma and in the next your chilling with Diana and Gwyn… like I don’t care, can we get back to the action? Diana is a good character but her entire point of view was honestly unnecessary and added nothing to the story. I feel the same way about Jaime and Diego Rosales.
- This book is filled with politics, and no, I don’t necessarily mean Shadowhunter politics. Horace Dearborn was very obviously a caricature of Donald Trump. I know that all authors are influenced by reality but this wasn’t done in a clever way. Clare made her political opinions known with the subtlety of a brick to the face.
- Let’s talk about the romance. Cassandra Clare’s books have always been solid YA. There would be infrequent sex scenes and they were always “fade to black” but emphasis was always placed on sweet and healthy relationships, not sex. Ms. Clare decided to get spicy in this book, however. This whole freaking book is nothing but romance and not even good romance. Where is the action? I don’t know but I do know all anybody can think about is their relationship issues. The sex scenes were also WAY more detailed than they’ve ever been which brings me to my next point…
- Mark, Kieran and Cristina’s polyamorous relationship is the weakest relationship I have ever seen. I did not feel the chemistry and there was no drama or jealousy which would be totally unrealistic for that kind of romantic dynamic. I’m also very uncomfortable with this type of relationship being portrayed as normal and healthy to YA readers. I don’t consider myself a prude but their whole relationship was uncalled for in a YA book. I feel like Clare couldn’t decide who she wanted Cristina to end up with so she decided to go for shock value and just put all three together. It’s a no from me.
- Clary, Jace, Simon, Alec and Magnus all feel so different. Obviously, they’re older and more mature but they just don’t feel like the same characters. Every part they’re in reads like fan fiction. Also, I think Isabelle said maybe one line in this entire book which is a shame because I love her so much.
- The resolution to this book was a perfect example of deus ex machina. Basically everything is fine and everybody lives happily ever after. The end. No, seriously, that’s how it ends.
It’s almost painful to have had my nostalgic, rose-colored glasses ripped off as hard as this book ripped mine off. I honestly don’t know what happened but I wish Cassandra Clare would have reread her older books and remembered the details of her own world and characters. I will still read the next trilogy that is being released later this year. I’ve read them all and I want to have the whole story. There’s also a chance that Clare will make improvements. If you’ve read this book/series, please let me know how you feel about it! Thanks for reading and have a great day!