3.5 out of 5 stars
Like the whole Dark Artifices series, this final installment isn’t perfect, but it’s well worth it.
I’m always nervous when authors re-visit their previously created worlds. When the wonder of first discovery is gone, and the characters we experienced that with have passed out of the story, it can leave behind shaky ground. I loved The Mortal Instruments series, of course, and was really surprised at how much I enjoyed The Infernal Devices. The historical twist made that fresh, and I adored the characters. Knowing that The Dark Artifices was coming back to present day, I went into the series with some reservation.
Each book in this series has a similar arc: slow drag of a start, sharp acceleration into story, full-speed collision course with the end. QOAAD‘s start was slower than the others. Too slow, honestly, and way too bleak, plunging deep into the devastation from the end of the last installment. It had to be done, I suppose, but it was tough to stick with the first hundred pages of this book.
So, when the inevitable upward tick in momentum arrived, I was so grateful and relieved I developed a crush on QOAAD it immediately.
The action is wild, as always: Emma and Julian’s parabati curse explodes, the Faerie courts threaten war, the bad Shadowhunters are basically Nazis. There’s even a threesome thrown in, to make sure you don’t drive-thru at McDonald’s with this audiobook playing! Emma and Julian travel to another dimension, the Silent City is attacked, some dead people are back (kind of), and the end is a tie between WHAT?! and WOW. It’s a good thing Cassandra Clare waited 12 books before pulling the stunt at end of Queen – it only works if you’re this devoted. And it almost doesn’t work. It’s a big risk, perhaps a brilliant balance, between everything and way too much. She has faith that you’ve truly bought into everything about Shadowhunter mythology by the time you get to this finale. And I have. If I hadn’t, this ending might have sunk the whole ship.
From Book One, it took a while for Emma and Julian to grow on me. I still prefer Clare’s other, and lots of them are here. Not just Mark, Christina, and Kieran, but QOAAD is like a reunion with the casts of Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices. That’s not a ploy I usually like, but once again, Clare manages to make it work. Her books are always so massively staged and exquisitely detailed. Her prose is lovely: struck through with things a real teenager would say, she avoids the pulpy schlock and repetitive vocabulary that hinder many YA novels.
She’s also prolific, with two new Shadow World series due in 2019:
- The Eldest Curses: Book One, The Red Scrolls of Magic, out April 9. (Terrible title, jeez.) But it follows Magnus and Alec around the world after the Dark War and… well, you had me at Magnus and Alec.
- The Last Hours: Set in Edwardian London and featuring the Herondale kids of Will and Tessa. (*hearts*) The first book, Chain of Gold, out November 19.
In all, I enjoyed The Dark Artifices, but I’m looking forward to going back in time to something new. A statement that maybe can only be true when talking about stories.