* this review contains spoilers
It’s no secret Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles are some of my favorite books of all time. I love the characters and their journeys, and with each new series I’m even more impressed with the world and the way Clare has managed to weave all these characters together over the course of five series. I can reread these books for all of eternity. Which is why it is my shame that I hadn’t read Queen of Air and Darkness two years after its release. I am also yet to read Chain of Gold, but it’s only been a couple of months so I’m letting myself off the hook.
At the beginning of 2020 I was prepared for another abysmal reading year. In 2019 I read less than 20 books, which compared to previous years when I was reading upwards of 50, is pretty bad. I attribute this to school, working full time, mental health, and just not being in the right headspace. But then a global pandemic hit and suddenly I wasn’t working. All of a sudden my ability to read came flying back, and I decided to reread, or read for the first time, every single book in the Shadowhunter Chronicles. I also decided to chronicle my reading journey here. So after rereading The Mortal instruments, The Bane Chronicles, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and the first two books in The Dark Artifices, it was finally time to read Queen of Air and Darkness for the first time.
QoAaD is a monster of a book at over 900 pages, and I admit I was worried that I would feel like it dragged on. Looking back, I should have known better because I’ve never had this issue with a Cassandra Clare book (excluding her anthologies). The plot moved along nicely, and I never felt like things were unnecessarily slow. Seriously, I was able to read QoAaD in three days, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I wasn’t intrigued and invested.
As always I loved Emma’s and Julian’s tortured romance. It’s Cassandra Clare’s specialty and she just does it so well. Even though I love Emma and Julian, I actually found myself loving the supporting characters even more. Diana, Christina, Mark, Kieran, Ty, Kit, and even Dru just grew on me so much. I enjoyed every single point-of-view, and usually I have a hard time reading books with multiple POVs. I also really love the diversity in this book. This is the first book I think I’ve ever read with polyamory rep. That being said, I can’t compare QoAaD to anything else, but I really enjoyed the way it was written and I’d love to see more of it in books. QoAaD also features Diana, a trans woman, and she’s one of my all time favorite characters, and I hope we get to see more of her in future books. Diana and Gwyn are perfection and one of my favorite couples in the Shadowhunter World. Kit’s and Ty’s relationship was also one of my favorite parts. I was so torn up at them being separated at the end, I hope they find their way back to each other.
While I’m admitting my deepest darkest secrets and telling you all what books I haven’t read, I must also admit that I am terrible at staying away from spoilers. I I read basically every Shadowhunter-wiki page there was on Thule before I read the book, and I was super worried about how this concept would play out. Obviously the wiki articles aren’t the greatest source of information. If you’ve already read a book, they’re a good refresher but if you haven’t they definitely don’t give you the full picture. I didn’t see how this storyline could play out authentically and make sense, but I’m glad I was wrong. It’s worked in seamlessly to the plot, and I didn’t get pulled out of the story while the characters were in Thule. It was so fun to see some of my old favorite characters in an alternate universe. I wonder if Thule and alternate timelines are a one-off in the Shadowhunter world, or if we will get to revisit Thule, or a different dimension with alternate characters, in the future.
The final battle wasn’t my favorite battle in the Shadowhunter Chronicles. While the concept of Thule worked for me, I wasn’t as huge a fan of the way the True Nephilim were written. It makes sense that that is the parabatai curse, but I felt like Emma and Julian as True Nephilim were just standing there for too long not doing anything. They should have been destroying more or they should have started dying quicker, in my opinion. It just felt like it took too long for Dru and everyone to get down to them, and while they were all rallying things should have gone way worse. But for the sake of the story everything had to work out, so Emma and Julian just waited around as True Nephilim for the rest of the Blackthorns to get it together to save them.
Random thought: it’s really weird to me when friends call each other sweetheart, and I noticed it in Lord of Shadows and QoAaD. Emma and Christina call each other sweetheart, and it just about the only thing that pulls me from the story.
I’m unsure how I feel about the ending. I’m excited for the next series to come out, but I don’t know how I feel about the villains. If you’ve read QoAaD you know that at the end, the Thule version of Jace shows up with Ash and says he wants Clary. It’s just… we’ve already had this villain and motivation. In The Mortal Instruments Jace was controlled by Sebastian, so we’ve already had an evil Jace as a semi-villain. A huge motivator for Sebastian doing what he was doing was to get to Clary and have Clary. I’m just worried that this plot will seem redundant, but I’m do have a tremendous amount of faith in Cassandra Clare because she hasn’t let me down yet, and I always end up loving whatever she writes into the Shadowhunter world.
After finally finishing The Dark Artifices, I’m so happy with how this series wrapped up. I’m both content and excited to see what happens next.