Thursday, December 20, 2018

Review: QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS by Cassandra Clare

Rating: 5/5 stars

I had been eagerly anticipating the release of this book since I finished Lord of Shadows over the summer, and I can safely say this concluding novel did not disappoint. This book was wild.

I listened to the audiobook, which had an amazing narrator, while I read along with the physical book, and I was surprised to find there were quite a few instances where small phrases here or there were changed or actually added into the audio version. I found that very interesting and I wasn’t sure why it happened, but I don’t think any of it was major enough to note specific instances.

I want to start by saying that Queen of Air and Darkness has major spoilers for The Mortal Instruments. This book spoils every single book in that series, especially the ending of City of Heavenly Fire. If you haven’t yet read The Mortal Instruments but want to, read that series before this one. I personally would recommend reading it anyway because that series gives tons of information and backstory that is pertinent in this series and I’m sure in Clare’s future series. Many of our original characters show up in Queen and play important roles. This series is a true sequel to the first series; Many of the problems in this book stem from the outcome of what happened in City of Heavenly Fire.

It’s interesting that we got to see the implications of what could have happened if the end of City of Heavenly Fire had been different. I’m really glad this part was included because it gave credence to the plot of The Mortal Instruments, like what happened then was bigger than we originally thought and affected more than just the characters we saw in that series.

I do like that we get to see some of the original characters in this book though. Clary and Jace make some appearances, more so than in the other Dark Artifices books, among some other unexpected characters who I was happy to see resurface. I feel like all the characters were much more involved in this book than in previous books. Everyone is implicated and has a part in the grand scheme of things, which I appreciated seeing.

I like that the story is told in multiple POVs that follow different groups of people that are each on a different mission. It’s also interesting that each group doesn’t really know what the other group is doing, and this has some interesting implications in the middle of the story where I could definitely see intentions colliding (for example, I thought the thing Kit and Ty were doing would clash with the thing Emma and Julian were doing at a specific point, and I was very anxious to see how that would be resolved). Clare is very good at keeping the reader informed on what everybody in the story is up to, so it never feels like there’s only one important character or group of characters because all the characters have a plot.

Clare is also really good at creating a slow-burning suspension. She draws things out and makes us beg to know what’s going to happen. I’ve seen this method executed poorly before, making the story drag instead of making the story suspenseful, but not with Clare’s books. She’s very good at keeping us invested in every facet of the story so that when a chapter ends following one group of characters, we can’t wait to read about what comes next, but we have to read about other characters for a few chapters, so the cycle of suspension continues.

Clare is really good at writing lots of good messages into her books that have high relevance in today’s time. She includes all kinds of LGBT representation and mental disorders and racial diversity throughout the series, more than I would say most authors include. In this book specifically, she also includes discussions about the importance of voting, why you should punish someone only for their actions and not for their thoughts, and why you should have personal morals and beliefs. All of this is pertinent to anyone who might be reading the series, and I feel that it also adds a ton of depth to her characters’ lives and the story as a whole. I love when authors include relevant discussions about real-world topics in their books without seeming preachy about it.

I could totally see Cassandra Clare writing a spin-off series following Kit and Ty. There was a lot of information revealed about Kit and Ty that left open a whole story arc that could be developed about each of them. I’m not really interested in reading Clare’s prequel series (I couldn’t finish The Infernal Devices and I don’t intend to read The Lost Hours), but any sequel series the keep progressing the timeline further into the future I would be all for. I love Kit and Ty, and I think a series about them, delving into the information that was revealed, would be a great addition to the Shadowhunter world.

There’s actually a lot of loose ends the could lead into many more series being written, now that I think about it. I know Clare is writing The Eldest Curses, which will follow Magnus and Alec, and I can see now where that storyline would go following the ending of this book. I will probably end up reading that series when it comes out, but I hope she also writes more.

All the loose ends made this book feel like it wasn’t a concluding novel. The main storyline in The Dark Artifices was wrapped with Julian and Emma, albeit in a much more unexpected way than I anticipated, but after that there was more information revealed that still created a sizeable cliffhanger at the ending (I do not mean that the story was left open-ended for interpretation but that there was instead a gaping hole that needs to be filled because something is missing). After everything, what is going to happen? There has to be some sort of sequel because there’s no way Clare would end the book like that if she wasn’t intending on furthering the story.

I really enjoyed all of the characters in Queen of Air and Darkness, although I will say that Emma and Julian had some angsty scenes that had me questioning if I’ve ever loved someone the way they seem to love each other . . . .
“They stumbled apart. It felt like having her skin ripped away.” Like calm down, Emma.

And then we had the trio: Mark, Kieran, and Cristina. This was my favorite relationship. I was rooting so hard for the “hot faerie threesome,” as was called in the book. I wanted so bad for all three of them to end up together that every time there was a scene with the three, I was full of anxiety wondering what would happen and if they would figure it out. Mark is still my precious ray of sunshine.

Overall, Queen of Air and Darkness was an amazing conclusion to The Dark Artifices trilogy. I originally didn’t know if I even wanted to read this series, but I am so happy that I did because it is my favorite Shadowhunters series (so far) and it expounded so much on the basis of the world that was established in The Mortal Instruments. I love the depth of detail that Clare puts into her books and how so many threads wind together to create a breathtaking story. I would highly recommend this series if you like urban fantasy, and you could even read it as its own series without having read any previous Shadowhunter books because all the details and ways of the world are explained for newcomers. 

Lastly, I want to note that the first edition hardcover of this book has ten beautiful full-page illustrations in it during important events in the book. I mostly listened to the audiobook but I’m glad I had the physical copy to read along with so I could see these pictures. They enhance the story nicely, and I would love to see them in full-color (but I don’t know if they exist in color). The book is worth checking out to see these pictures.

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