Title: Queen of Air and Darkness
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices #3
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: December 4th, 2018 (Simon & Schuster Ltd)
Synopsis: Dark secrets and forbidden love threaten the very survival of the Shadowhunters in Cassandra Clare’s Queen of Air and Darkness, the final novel in the #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling The Dark Artifices trilogy.
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.
My anticipation for this book was at an all time high, because I’ve spent most of last year just thinking about what might possibly happen – and determinedly avoiding even the slightest spoiler, be it the various snippets being shared on social media or the excerpt which was released earlier this year. The only thing I did allow myself to read in advance was the poem for this book, Edgar Allan Poe’s The City in the Sea (which was appropriately ominous). Also, if you haven’t read Ghosts of the Shadow Market already, you really should finish those 8 novellas first. It puts a lot of what goes on in this book in perspective once you know the stakes are even higher for a certain character than they initially appear. It sent my expectations for QoAaD through the roof. And Cassandra Clare did not disappoint.
“Some lights were never meant to burn for long.”
The shock of Livvy’s death is only just sinking in for the Blackthorns, and at the same time, with the death of Robert Lightwood, the position of Inquisitor is vacant and the time is ripe for a seizure of power in the Clave – which is exactly what Horace Dearborn takes advantage of. Still grieving for Livvy, Emma and Julian are summoned before the new Inquisitor – Dearborn, naturally, where yet another bombshell is dropped. Horace has been going through the late Inquisitor’s notes – which also happens to contain details of Robert Lightwoods last conversation with the pair and the deal of exile he had agreed to give them. Emma and Julian are blackmailed into taking on a dangerous mission in Faerie in exchange for Horace keeping this secret and upholding the deal – but Horace Dearborn has his own agenda, and all he needs is for the key players and dissenting voices to be out of his way. With Clary and Jace still missing on their own mysterious mission in Faerie, the list of Shadowhunters who would oppose the Cohort is dwindling fast as Dearborn and his cronies launch a highly effective campaign of discriminatory lies and fear mongering against Downworlders.
“There is a corruption at the heart of the bond of parabatai. A poison. A darkness in it that mirrors its goodness. There is a reason parabatai cannot fall in love, and it is monstrous beyond all you could imagine. The parabatai rune was not given to you by the Angel but by men, and men are flawed. David the Silent and Jonathan Shadowhunter created the rune and the ceremony. Do you imagine that carries no consequences?”
Still reeling from Livvy’s death, Julian realizes the parabatai curse is starting to take hold, and in desperation, takes a desperate step in hopes of stopping the curse once and for all – but there are far worse consequences to this action, as Emma quickly begins to find out. The questions that have been hovering since Lady Midnight are finally answered – what is the curse of the parabatai? Why is it forbidden for them to fall in love? And what is the price they will have to pay for doing so?
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead!
One thing I really wanted to point out is that QoAaD, even while other things take centre stage, is a book about loss and how different people deal with grief in different ways. How each of the Blackthorns, Emma and their close friends deal with Livia’s loss is beautifully portrayed and I applaud that it was not skated over or half-done. Even as a reader, it really only sinks in during the first few chapters, regardless of the fact that I already knew it had happened. Before this, it was completely objective.
“This is the nature of having a soul, Kieran, and a heart. We all stumble around in the dark and we cause each other pain and we try to make up for it the best we can. We are all confused.”
Cristina, Mark and Kieran. I never in my life thought I’d say this, but I actually enjoyed this love triangle. They are all amazing characters, and this plotline is just so well written – that we get to see POVs from all of them only strengthens that. To say anymore would be giving away too much, so I’ll stop there. As for Kit and Ty, Ty is basically not dealing with his grief well, and is set on heading down a dark and self-destructive path. Kit is being dragged along for the ride, trying his best to dissuade Ty from his course of action. I need more tissues to go into that topic, so that’s as much as I’ll say here.
“Julian has always been able to make sacrifices that were difficult and hide the pain it caused him.”
He has indeed, and with the multiple pressures of dealing with grief, the parabatai curse, and the unstable political atmosphere in Alicante, Julian is at his breaking point, making the dangerous choice to remove his emotions rather than deal with them. Emma and Jules. This book is (quite understandably) heavy on the angst for this pairing – it’s just one thing after another for them with the parabatai curse dangling like a sword over it all. Julian is hands down my favourite in this series. He is a protagonist who leans on the line between hero and antihero with his morally grey decisions and ruthlessness in the defense of his family. As for Emma, I really don’t have the words to describe how much of an amazing character she is, and her journey throughout The Dark Artifices is phenomenal.
The plot has taken a distinctive political turn, with some very upsetting and downright disgusting developments. Queen of Air and Darkness is by no means a fast or easy read. This is way too eerily relevant to even attempt skimming through. Yet, despite the plot having taking on such a serious note, there are still moments of humour slipped into the most unlikeliest of places, mostly courtesy of either Magnus or Kieran (I’m still laughing over that cat calendar).
There are really only two things I can complain about in this. First, the Thule arc was too short for my liking. Julian getting his emotions back and realizing just what a huge mistake he made was the crucial result of Thule, but there was so much more potential in that part of the story, and that arc felt like it was wrapped up all in a rush. But then again, the epilogue might be hinting at just that? And second, Zara. She was as dislikable as ever, but in her dialogue and many of her actions, it seemed to me that she more resembled a bratty toddler intent on getting her way. I don’t know if that was an intentional portrayal or not, but personally, I find it more entertaining when the antagonists in a story can provide a wittier comeback than screaming the party line over and over.
Queen of Air and Darkness was amazing in its own right, but in my opinion, Lord of Shadows was better. Though it had its fair share of action, it was very weighed down – as the story demands – by grief, politics, angst – all the heavy emotions. It was a delight to see Julian return to his calculative, scarily intelligent self and as Drusilla puts it, “his lunatic schemes”. Going into part III, my inner monologue, to cut it short, was basically: “it’s about time!”, knowing that Julian would have every intention of repaying every slight done to his family in full – without a care of who was in his way.
Regarding the ending, I was very very happy with how things wrapped up for Emma and Julian, especially because I was hoping for it to turn out this way. Horace Dearborn got exactly what he deserved. And as for the Cohort, I definitely did not see that twist coming. Well, you win some, you lose some I guess, but this is fantasy, and I do wish Cassie would have indulged what was probably a majority of the readers’ wishes in this matter. The last chapter (NOT the epilogue) was amazing – Magnus and Alec fans, this is it. Emma and Julian’s tale appears to be done, but there are still several threads left hanging – Kit, Ty and Dru, for starters, Idris’ future, and finally, that completely unexpected epilogue!
The Dark Artifices trilogy is without doubt Cassie’s best work yet. There is so much depth to all the characters, such an intricate plotline, and it makes me as a reader fall even more in love with the story and the world of Shadowhunters. I’m hugely excited for The Wicked Powers, because we all know that Kit and Ty’s story is nowhere near done just yet. Queen of Air and Darkness is my final major read for this year, and I’m so very glad that it was such a deep and thought provoking novel and a stellar conclusion to this series.
“We are called Livia’s Watch,” Julian said, and Emma saw Ty sit up straighter in his chair. “We carry this banner in honor of my sister, so that all who have been hurt by the Cohort will not be forgotten.”