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REVIEW: Queen of Air and Darkness

A cruel sort of bond, he thought,
that made one person out of two people,
and left such devastation when half was gone.” 

Title: Queen of Air and Darkness
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: December 2018
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

Prior to reading this book, I really, genuinely, thought that this would be the last Cassandra Clare book I'd ever read. Despite reading all of them, I wasn't a fan of the The Mortal Instruments series when I read them as a teenager, but her The Infernal Devices series is one of my all time favorite fantasy series. Her characters, and especially her storylines, are a hit or miss for me. Hence why I swore that The Dark Artifices would be my last Cassandra Clare series, ever.

.... I was wrong. 

What is this book about?
Queen of Air and Darkness is the third instalment in The Dark Artifices series, and follows the Shadowhunters of the Los Angeles institute. If you're not familiar with Clare's enormous universe; it basically centers around a group of "Shadowhunters" who hunt supernatural creatures to make sure the peace between humans and "downworlders" is maintained. 

This series in particular is set in Los Angeles and focuses on a significantly large cast of characters (some older faces from her previous series set in the universe, but also some newly introduced ones).

The plot of Queen of Air and Darkness begins where the previous instalment Lord of Shadows left off. With one of his siblings gone, Julian has to navigate his feelings of grief, as well as his complicated relationship with his parabatai Emma Carstairs. Together with their friends and family they have to prevent the Shadow World from succumbing to a dark power.

"Some lights were never meant to burn for long."

What did I think about Queen of Air and Darkness?
Okay, so, I can swallow my pride and say that I was wrong to go in with such an attitude. I was so ready for this to be the last Shadowhunters book I'd ever read. I was very ready to leave this world behind. Ever since reading the series in my teenage years, I've felt too little of a connection to the TMI characters, same as I've always felt too large of a connection towards the TID characters. Due to this large contrast, I've always felt Clare's other characters to fall a bit flat for me. Because I'm still so in love with the TID books, I wasn't sure I'd connect with any of her newer characters. I was convinced she'd already peaked with her previous series. The universe just kept expanding and expanding and I was tired of it. I've read the previous two books Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows back to back last year, and I didn't really remember much of them prior to reading QoAad. I didn't recollect the plot at all, and, especially minor characters, were a blur.

However ready I was to feel indifferent about this book and move on, I didn't. I picked this up in the hopes of reading about cameo's of my favorite Infernal Devices characters, and ended up LOVING it. It's no secret I always enjoy conclusions to book series; they're often the most action- packed and gratifying (with the exception of open or sad endings, we don't talk about those). 

Within the first few chapters, I already loved how fast-paced and exciting this book was. The balance between character moments and action scenes was well-proportioned, dare I say, perfectly done. Despite my expectations, I didn't feel myself getting bored of the action and plot throughout the, almost 900 page, novel. The romantic storylines were very nicely intertwined with the larger action plot, providing a nice break from the heavy stuff. Clare's writing does feature a lot of extensive descriptions, but they didn't necessarily bother me. She also has an almost 'formal' writing style at times, which I do really like and I find is able to add to the setting of the Shadow World.

Plot-wise, I enjoyed the personal relationships and character-driven subplots the most. There were times when I wanted to throw my book at the wall (Julian Blackthorn, looking at you, sir), and wanted to yell in joy (Jem announcing him and Tessa are having a baby! UGH, perfection!). I'm happy that most of the drama was resolved in the end, and the drama that wasn't will be focused on in future books. The only book I have ever cried reading is Clockwork Princess, but I almost shed a tear during the beginning of this book. The first half was heavy, and I mean... really d*mn heavy. However, the tone doesn't remain the same throughout the complete novel. There are jokes that are almost 80% funny (I just have a very particular sense of humor so they were only 80% funny. It's me, not you), as well as cute character moments.

It was also nice to see old characters from previous books reappear again. It's no secret that I think Jem is the best character Clare has ever written, and to see him and Tessa make a few appearances aside from his short stories in Ghosts of the Shadow Market was a real treat. The way the book ended in regards to him also satisfied me enormously, since I'm a huge fan of the particular trope and I can't wait to see what he's up to in The Wicked Powers (2022).

Compared to her first series, you can see the books have evolved in terms of diversity. The Dark Artifices includes a transgender woman, many LGBTQ+ relationships, a polyamorous relationship, as well as characters of various ethnicities (Latino & Asian, to name some) I don't think the representation is 100% perfect, but then again, there is no such thing as a perfect book. However, I thought it was worth noting.

Lastly, I want to give a quick shoutout because to a character that particularly touched me. Kit. I LOVED this boy. I can't wait to read more of his relationship with Ty in... wait for it...  the next series she brings out. I am officially converted to being a fan of this universe and will probably be reading her books until I'm 40 years old.... 

“The sky was a road and the stars made pathways; 
the moon was a watchtower, a lighthouse that led you home.” 

I don't know whether it is because I had zero to no expectations, or because it was just that good, but this book was a solid 5 star read for me. I guess I'm gonna be sticking around for the next 20000 books after all. 

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