book reviews

Queen of Air and Darkness

40696414Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Rating: XXXX

Published December 4th 2018 Simon & Schuster Ltd

“Every choice has a long afterlife of consequences. No one can know the eventual outcome of any decision. All you can do is make the best choice you can make in the moment.” 

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 disease 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.

So let me get started by saying I love the Shadowhunters books, it took me longer to come around to reading them than I would have liked but once I did I was hooked, Jace is my ultimate book boyfriend and I love so many of the characters with a fierce passion. I fell in love with The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices broke my heart and now I’ve finally finished the concluding book in the third series of shadowhunter books, The Dark Artifices and…I don’t really know how that makes me feel.

I have to say, actually, that, among other things, I do feel a little relieved, I started reading Queen of Air and Darkness on the day it released in December and I only finished it maybe a week ago. Six months. This book took me six months to read. Don’t get me wrong it’s an absolute tome so I didn’t expect it to be a quick read but this third book in the series just really didn’t grab me like any of the others across the whole of the range of shadowhunter books have, it was easy to put down and forget about. Because of its size, I also found it incredibly uncomfortable to read so decided to purchase the audiobook petty early on which I did for Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows as well. James Masters is a brilliant narrator for it and definitely made it a lot easier to get through, I’m sure it would have taken much longer without.

Despite it taking me six months to read I’ve still given Queen of Air and Darkness an XXXX rating because although it certainly had problems, especially with pacing etc there were just so many parts I liked about it as well I think there was just too much crammed in for one book and that maybe some cuts should have been made or the book split into two, I feel like this could have been done fairly easy as it did feel like two halves of a story put together and I do wonder if maybe the Dark Artifices was meant to be another longer shadow hunter series like The Mortal Instruments but trilogies are popular and it was decided everything needed to be shoved into this last book?

There are a lot of moments in QoAaD that feel a little like fan service but I suppose when you have so many characters all existing in one world and close timelines it makes sense that they interact with each other but it did make this instalment feel like another book in the Mortal Instruments series as much as it’s own trilogy. I can’t deny that some of these moments, however, were some of my favourite parts, partially for the nostalgia and in part because some of the older characters feel almost like dear friends after eleven or so books.

A large part of QoAaD is the romance, mainly the relationship and swirl of emotions between Jules and Emma but honestly I still couldn’t summon up much of any kind of emotion past mild irritation for their relationship which felt like a shame as I love Emma but Julian has just really gotten on my nerves for all three books. I did like the other relationships throughout this book and this trilogy in general, especially the polyamorous relationship between Kieran, Mark and Christina which was a huge highlight for me, it felt like it was done exceptionally well and it was lovely to see a lovely, healthy polyam relationship in YA. We, of course, had Alec and Magnus too and I honestly fell back in love with the two of them in this book which is perfectly timed for me as The Red Scrolls of Magic is likely to be my next Shadowhunter read.

Even with the horrid pacing, I do have to say that balancing SO many characters is no mean feat especially with so many of them having pretty good arcs, I actually liked Alec’s entire arc in the Dark Artifices more than I did throughout most of TMI. We have at least eight main characters and over thirty other characters that I would say are still relatively important and I feel like we get some pretty good content for all of them. Overall I loved the story we got but as I’ve said I would have much preferred it had perhaps been spread over two smaller and better-paced books.

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I want to talk a lot more about this book but there are just many spoilers that I would need to go into so I’m considering making a spoiler-filled book talk video like I’ve done in the past for Lord of Shadows.

Have you read any of the Shadowhunter books? If so do you have a favourite? I’m not sure I could pick one!!

#SixforSunday

#S4S – Favourite LGBT Reads

Happy Six for Sunday! This weeks prompt from the wonderful Steph over at A little but a lot is Favourite LGBT reads and I’m ashamed that despite being a member of the LGBT community myself I’ve read precious few LGBT books myself. It doesn’t seem to be something that’s focused on much in fantasy which is one of the two main genres I read, Science Fiction is a little better but I’m not sure I can think of many books that I’ve read that would be considered “LGBT” books so I’ll do my best to list the ones I would consider to feature LGBT elements in them. Feel free to reccomend all the good Fantasy and Sci-Fi LGBTQ+ books though, especially f/f or bi/pan/poly rep.

Just another note actually before we begin, a thought perhaps but what do you consider an “LGBT” read? Although they are important for those who need them I am often not at all interested in stories where characters “queereness” is the be all and end all of the story. As I’ve said those kind of books do need to exist because there are people out there who they will help and that will find themselves in those books but I really prefer the books where there are characters who are LGBTQ plus but it’s a normal natural thing and is not a pivotal plot point, obviously this is only personal opinion and everyone enjoys different kinds of books but I wanted to make that clear that is one of the reasons my list of “LGBT” reads probably aren’t considered as such because the sexuality of the characters aren’t the only plot point and I don’t want to diminish others love for books where that is the case at all but rather just wanted to explain my choices.

1. The Last Begining by Lauren James
This time bending book feautures Clove and her sometimes girlfriend Ella and was one of my favourite reads last year, I can’t say too much about why I love their relationship throughout this book without giving away spoilers but lets just say

2. Jem and the Holgrams by Kelly Thompson
I was a big fan of the Jem and the Holograms TV show when I was younger (showing my age!) and became a little obsessed with it. I was so excited to find out it was being made into a comic (we don’t talk about the “film”). The artwork is bold , beautiful and full of colour and the story is compelling and very much in the feel of the original show while still feeling updated and I’m gutted that it wasn’t a show instead but I’ve still loved every minute of it. Among some of the new changes I’ve enjoyed is the relationship between Kimber and Stormer, a star-crossed lovers tale with each being from rival bands. They are an absolutely adorable couple who adore each other but find it hard to be together with the tensions building between the two groups. They are easily one of my favourite couples in fiction.

3. The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
I feel like this one may be a little controversial somehow, purely because despite the relationship between Alec and Magnus Bane being one that really touched people, a lot of others feel it’s “over done” now somehow and that Cassie is just “milking it” to get positive attention. That’s not how I feel personally, although Alec and Magnus is a great step forward, especially at a time where same sex relationships were not often featured in YA for me I loved the fact that Magnus Bane was (at least) bisexual and this really helped me at a time where I was confused that I liked girls but I couldn’t be gay because I liked boys as well. Magnus sort of became a window to realising I didn’t have to be gay or straight as it wasn’t something I had ever really known or talked about. Now in the Dark Artifices we have all sort s of characters and relationships including trans and poly which I think have been done well and really appreciate seeing normalised in fiction.

4. Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Betty the smidgen is pretty much my favourite member of the Rat Queens (although I do love them all) and as with most of these on my list I love how easy and seamlessly her sexuality is introduced and plays out in these books. It’s very simple and sweet with just the right amount of fluff for my tastes.

5. Vicious and Vengeful by V.E Schwab
This might sound like a strange one but I was convinced during Vicious that Victor and Eli were besotted with each other even if they wouldn’t act on it or show it. The way Eli became obsessed with hunting down Victor just really seemed to have this…edge to it. In Vengeful it became apparent and although not done as smoothly as it could have been done, it was canonical acknowledged that Victor was Asexual (ace) and this felt like it made so much sense to me.

6. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
By the looks of this list I read and enjoy a lot more LGBT comics than I do traditional books. Nimona is probably my absolute favourite on this list for many many reasons but one of them is the way it handles LGBT relationships so well. We often see LGBT couples possibly going through some kind of hardship and then they get back together and they live happily ever after. In Nimona we. See a huge variety of couples, some who are very happy together but also those who fight, or break up or flirt or just want something casual or different and I think thats another really important angle that needs to be shown as well. This book is absolutely a must read. Its a masterpiece.

Thank you for checking out my six for Sunday post! I think this may have inspired me to do a longer post. On a similar subject so keep an eye out for that coming soon! I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week and don’t forget to let me know if you’ve taken part in todays prompt as well so I can check it out!

P.S Wanted to give an honourable mention to Carry On! I haven’t finished it yet but I feel like if I had it probably would have made this list.