If you believe only in facts and forget stories, your brain will live, but your heart will die – Cassandra Clare.
In all honesty, I surprised myself whilst reading the latest of the Shadowhunter world. It took me a lot longer to delve deep between the pages of Lord of Shadows than it did when I read its prequel, Lady Midnight. The pace was slower, the writing less magical, something was off from the beginning. I grew into the book, casually getting more and more attached as the story went on. It was a slow process, but I seemed to tumble into a bulldozer that only picked up speed and careened into a wall, smashing to smithereens by the time I had read the final words.
It is the characters that drive this story, as it is always the characters that bend and manipulate every Shadowhunter book. More specifically, it is the relationships and unbreakable bonds between the characters that make you fall in love with every page. The family ties that unite the Blackthorns and their immediate friends seem to grow even more in Lord of Shadows. We see each character come out of their shell a little further, uncloaking their individualities as each takes a viewpoint throughout the novel, except Tavvy, being the youngest and smallest. The most obvious bond – the entire crux of the story – revolves around Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn. Emma is the light whilst Julian is the dark. Both are ruthless, but in certain ways. Emma knows where the line is; Julian stops at nothing. They need each other as parabatai (a sacred bond that enhances their abilities as Shadowhunters), but they desire so much more than that. The build up is excruciating on both sides: Emma must lie in order to break Julian’s heart; Julian must mask himself from his emotions to forget there was anything other than friendship between them. Thus, a testy, long complicated relationship runs wild between the pages whilst the Blackthorn family attempts to save the Shadowhunter world from Nephilim themselves.
A theme of trios is fundamental throughout Lord of Shadows. First, there are Ty, Livvy and Kit who create a unique bond, unlike any other. Ty and Livvy – Blackthorn twins – are united through absolutely anything. They are each others’ ying and yang. Kit is an added extra. His character is loveable, despite him doing practically anything to escape the clutches of the Shadowhunter realm. He develops a protective force over Ty, whilst his intrigue for Livvy tests him in his teenage youth. The three of them bring an innocent humour to a world where angst is the norm. They also bring a stubborn feistiness that is an inspiration for the younger readers of Cassandra Clare books, as well as the older ones.
As for the other trio that firmly has my heart, I also wonder exactly what the dynamics are between the three of them. They are Mark, Cristina and Kieran, of the Hunt – a faerie prince. In Lady Midnight, we know of a relationship between Mark and Kieran that binds them to each other in such a way that it rivals almost anything else. There is a hunger there, woven deep into their souls. It was torn apart before Lord of Shadows and it remains to be a fragile thing where secrets and lies are woven into it. Enter Cristina who has been intrigued by Mark Blackthorn ever since she was a child. She has fallen for him in a way that she has not fallen for another person before, with elegance and class, but underneath, she wants to know what it feels like – to have him feel the same way that she does him. As for Cristina and Kieran, their relationship is my favourite out of the lot. I don’t exactly know or understand it, and that is why I love it so much. Kieran protects her, is delicate with her whilst he is brash with others. They are connected in a way that is so unlike any other relationship. Are they friends? Are they something a little more? Loyalty is what laces them together; it’s wonderful to read.
Instead of a mystery that needs unravelling, Lord of Shadows is all about the quest; an adventure that turns the Blackthorn family inside out. Julian, Emma, Mark and Cristina travel to the land of faerie where the colours are vivid and alive, where the faeries giggle and dance and tell their wicked truths, and where there is a hidden danger to Shadowhunters that lurks in the shadows. The Unseelie King is the crux of a dark hole that wants to change the world as we know it. It is a game of quick wits and how far people are willing to go in order to save themselves and each other. Not only are the Blackthorns fighting a faerie magic, an evil grows within their own people, one that is similar to the history books of the mundanes. The Cohort threatens to expose, imprison and kill Downworlders across the globe, which will cause another war.
Let’s not even talk about the final five pages of Lord of Shadows. Crying once was enough for me. Your heart will break for the characters, as well as yourself.
With traitors and an evil lurking behind each corner, who can Emma and Julian trust? Roll on 4th December for the third and final instalment! I’ve already pre-ordered my copy.
Love, Faye xo