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 blight 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.
Even though I was always talking about waiting for the release of Kingdom of Ash, I forgot that this is the book I’ve waited for the longest amount of time. And my first thoughts are that it was worth it. It made me laugh and cry, feel thrilled and tense and horrified and I couldn’t have asked for a better reading experience. I’m going to try to keep this review spoiler free, but I may not succeed, so please read at your own risk!!!
The story starts off almost immediately after the end of Lord of Shadows, so it’s very emotional for most of the first part. Clare captures the various kinds of grief that everyone in the family feels very vividly and we as readers are not exempt from feeling the same. It was very difficult to keep my tears at bay when all the Shadowhunters bade goodbye to Livvy and I kept hoping that nothing like that would happen again.
The story then follows various different tangents as we explore more of the Fairie lands, Idris and the Brocelind Forest. There is also a very new realm – almost like an alternate dimension – that some of our heroes travel to, which is horrible and dreadful but also gives us great insight into how little differences in history can have very far reaching consequences in the future.
The writing is very fast paced, with twists upon unexpected twists revealed in quick succession, always keeping us on our toes and playing a guessing game as to who is loyal to whom, and when the next betrayal will occur. Cassandra Clare is also excellent at writing multiple romantic plotlines but never taking us away from all the action – which is exactly what she does here too. Many of our favorite ships are in peril and it was very exciting to see them face their fears and prevail over the dangers that want to harm their loved ones. All the various storylines converge to give us a thrilling battle and I could not have asked for a better ending to this trilogy.
Why I find The Dark Artifices trilogy so much more interesting than the previous ones is because of how realistic all the issues feel. We’ve always known that there exists lots of prejudice in the Shadowhunter community and it has shown in ugly face multiple times, but the emergence of the Cohort, the politics of hatred and trying to control the minds of the people by fear mongering is too close to the current state of Western politics. The ways in which the Dearborns and others use scare tactics to rile up everyone against the Downworlders and their supporters, even going as far as to imprison their own people mirrors our reality so uncannily, that I was amazed and horrified because I could see no end to it. The book doesn’t offer us clear cut solutions because sometimes, such pure hatred and prejudice can’t be purged easily, but it shows that everyone should fight for a just cause, for love and family and whatever is right; not out of malice and cruelty towards others.
This trilogy has also been about family – the one we are born into and the one we choose. This spirit is predominant through every single page, every single person fighting and sacrificing for their family and there is one single scene during the battle that truly embodies the strength of the Blackthorn family – one that gave me goosebumps and filled my heart with pride for these wonderful characters.
There are so many great characters here that I can’t possibly write about all of them and do them justice. Our central ones are still Emma and Julian, still trying to escape their curse and find a way to be together. They each go through some very dark moments here, but the other is always there is to protect and that is true strength of their relationship. Nothing will stop them from having each other’s backs.
Ty is the one who struggles the hardest with the death of his twin, but never shows it. He decides to deal with his grief by traversing forbidden paths and I’m not sure if we have yet seen the complete consequences for his actions. Kit is torn between his desire to be with Ty every step of the way and to do the right thing. I did not expect the explosive truth about his heritage and though the issue seems rested for now, I think it’s going to be very central to whatever the next series is.
Dru is a definite revelation in this one. She has lost a sister too and with Julian and Emma on a mission far away, she feels very alone in her grief but it also strengthens her resolve to do whatever she can to protect her remaining family. She finds her voice in this book and it was wonderful to see her actions really turn the tide in the war. She is going to be one formidable Shadowhunter in the future and I can’t wait to see more of her adventures.
My most favorite part of this trilogy has always been the Mark, Keiran, Christina love triangle and I was quite scared about their fate, because I didn’t want to choose. I adored the progression of their relationship here – the uncertainty, the vulnerability, the all consuming love – it’s all depicted so beautifully that I just wanted more. And I especially thought the character development of Keiran was marvelous and we get to know so much more about his true character.
Diana is such a powerful formidable character that even the Cohort is scared of her. She is so fearless in the face of peril and I loved that she always stood true to her convictions.
It is also always nice to see old favorites and it was a delight whenever Jace, Clary, Alec, Magnus, Tessa and Jem show up. They all play important roles in trying to resolve the conflicts and it felt great to see them more grown up and contemplative. The last chapter (not the horrifying cliffhangery epilogue) was utterly beautiful and I don’t think I could have asked for anything else.
Despite that tense epilogue, I thought the arcs of all the major characters are resolved pretty well and this book will definitely leave you satisfied, even if a bit emotionally drained and bittersweet. However, the Shadowhunter world has changed in unimaginable ways, both good and bad, and I’m even more excited to know what happens next. I really don’t need to recommend this book to anyone because if you love this universe, I know you will read it.