“There was blood on the Council dais, blood on the steps, blood on the walls and the floor and the shattered remnants of the Mortal Sword.”
Friends, it has been a ride. I have spent the last six months reading everything that Cassie Clare has created for the Shadowhunter world, and it was all leading up to this moment – the release of Queen of Air and Darkness. And friends, it was so worth it. Not only was reading all of these books and stories, and falling in love with so many of these characters and worlds, a highlight in my reading year, it was just a highlight in my 2018. And I just want to thank each and every single one of you that came along with me on this journey.
“Blood always matters, to the wrong sort of people”
And this book picks up immediately after the events in LoS. Fascists are trying to control the Clave and dictate how Downworlders should be treated. In Faerie, the Seelie and the Unseelie court are trying to hurt each other, while the Unseelie King has something that the Seelie Queen doesn’t want to live without. Warlocks are hurting, so many of our main cast of characters are missing, and so many people are grieving the loss of loved ones.
“Sympathy is common. Knowing the exact shape of the hole someone’s loss leaves in your heart is rare.”
Queen of Air and Darkness is truly a love letter to grief. The first section of this review is going to be spoiler free, so I’m going to try to be really vague. Ty is choosing to ignore his grief, Alec is throwing himself into work and wanting a better world because of his grief, Julian thinks revenge is the only way to work through his grief, Emma has finally made headway with her past grief, to only be forced to experience more all over again. We see parents grieving the loss of their children, children grieving the loss of their parents, and everyone grieving the loss of loved ones because of wars they didn’t ask to be a part of. But that’s what happens when you love people, and you let them in, because nothing is permanent, and grief is inevitable. There is no wrong way to grieve, but you do get to choose the actions you perform in the name of that grief. And we get to see people make a lot of hateful choices, and take a lot of hateful actions, because of their grief; Cohorts and fae queens and kings alike.
And this third and final installment in The Dark Artifices series does get rather dark, so please use caution. Content and trigger warnings for hate speech (always challenged and always negative), threatening to out someone, talk of wanting to sexually assault someone, self-harm, death, loss of a loved one, murder, torture, captivity, blood depictions, strong depictions of grief, trauma, and depression, talk of suicide, a lot of violence, and war themes.
As always, Cassie is so very inclusionary and gives us so much rep that is very respectively done. From so much sexuality and gender representation, to racial diversity, to giving us a main character on the autism spectrum, to body diversity, to really respecting mental health in this book. I’m not saying that Cassie Clare is the pinnacle of what representation in books should be, but I’ll be dammed if she isn’t trying, and if she isn’t doing a better job than any other cis white woman writing YA currently.
Overall, it is also actually wild how talented Cassandra Clare is, because the cast of her books are so large and expansive, but I’d die for almost every single one of them. I had so much fun reading this last installment, even if it wasn’t my favorite. But I will talk more about that below! I will say that I need The Red Scrolls of Magic, The Last Hours, & The Wicked Powers right this very second. Like, the wait is probably going to kill me. But I’m going to die with the biggest smile on my face.
Please use caution reading the rest of this review if you have not read this book and all the series leading up to this book! And as always, I’m going to do a little mini character breakdown on my thoughts and feelings on all the main characters in this book.
➽ Emma Carstairs – You all, I can’t even talk about Emma properly. She is my favorite Shadowhunter of them all. I love her, I love her bravery, I love her empathy, and I love how she loves. I’ll be honest, the worst part about turning the last page of this book is knowing that I’ll never be able to read another new book where she is the main character.
➽ Julian Blackthorn – First off, Madalyn pointing out that Julian is probably demisexual added ten years to my life and I needed you all to know this. Next, Julian Blackthorn is my everything and I hate that I’m so weak for this soft boy, but it is the damn truth.
Also, because I’m a perv and this needs to be said, Julian and Emma reciting the parabatai vow while fucking? My kink. My fucking kink. Damn. The gifts CC gives us.
➽ Church – The real MVP of this book.
➽ Helen Blackthorn-Penhallow – Helen and Aline are going to be the best moms ever, and I am so happy that Cassie finally let us see this power couple! And I can’t wait to actually see them fall in love during TRSoM, but I know it is going to be my favorite thing in this entire series!
➽ Aline Blackthorn-Penhallow – Okay, Helen and Aline are my TRUE OTP! And Aline literally give me life, while standing up for Helen, during this entire 900+ page story. And I’m here for any story that is a bout an Asian girl getting into a sapphic relationship with a fae girl. I mean, it is kind of my life goal.
➽ Mark Blackthorn – You all, we did it, and CC answered our prayers! And she gave us the polyamorous relationship of my dreams! I will say that I don’t entirely love that they only have their cabin to share their love, but I hope that a lot happens in future books to make this trio able to truly spend all of their lives with one another. But that scene on the boulder between the three of them? 11/10, I will be rereading once a week for the rest of my life.
“All this time we were waiting for you. We loved each other, and it was a great thing, but with you, it is even greater.”
➽ Cristina Rosales – I just love Cristina. I love her friendship with Emma, but I loved her deciding, at her own pace, what she wanted in her life. And she’s so damn strong, while being so damn giving, and she honestly deserves the entire world. Also, no offense, but Cassie Clare also gave her the worst Shadowhunter weapons, imo.
➽ Kieran – I mean, you all know I’m trash for dark (ever changing) haired fae princes who end up being king. But like, I’d love Kieran even if he was none of those things. He is honestly probably my third favorite character in all of the Shadowhunter world. And when all the fae people were remembering all the kind things he did for them, and when the little girl gave him the white flower? Friends, I’m weak, and soft, and crying, and in love with Kieran so very much.
➽ Adaon – Wow, the resident sleeper and true hero of this story.
➽ Kit Rook / Christopher Herondale – Alright, Kit is going to have the coolest power(s) in the Shadowhunter world. But I truly loved how this book officially proved that Kit is going to have an actual claim to rule all of Faerie, and I’m here for it.
➽ Tiberius Blackthorn – Oh Ty, my sweet Ty. You know this necromancy and dark magic are going to follow him all the way through TWP! You all also know that I’m a sucker for siblings who are best friends, and Thule Livvy’s letter actually gutted me.
“I love you. I love you. I love you.”
➽ Livvy Blackthorn – I don’t really understand how ghost Livvy works, or how the connection with Ty works, but it equally breaks and warms my heart. But I do really wish she would have just been able to rest in peace.
➽ Octavian Blackthorn – I feel like Poor Tavvy is the character that is looked over, but it is because he is still so little. But I cried really hard when he told Julian that he just wanted to go home at the end. Julian really raised all these kids to be brave, to be strong, and to love always.
➽ Dru Blackthorn – Dru truly has grown up and came into her own during these three books. I love her, and I loved seeing her journey. And I especially loved seeing Ty spend more time with her. I can’t wait to see her grow and shine even more in TWP where she will be a main character.
➽ Ash – Did Cassie really have to give him Rhysand wings? Truly? Honestly? Lord, why? But… I’m here for it, and I also ship him and Drusilla so damn hard already. When he picked up that picture that Julian drew and learned her name? I screamed. I can’t wait for that to make another appearance.
➽ Magnus Bane – You all know Magnus is my favorite. Every book I fall more and more in love with him. And seeing him as a dad? It is truly the best. Also, Magnus having a heart to heart with Ty about gutted me, because it was so damn beautiful.
➽ Alec Lightwood – I honestly feel like Alec was a real shining star in this book. And he is going to completely change the world with unconditional love. And seeing him become Consul of the Clave? I don’t even have words. Alec started out as a character that was hard for me to like, now he’s a character that’s hard for me not to love.
“No shining new world could be built on blood and bones.”
➽ Zara Dearborn – Worst part of this book? That Zara didn’t die. And now she has her own little private city to breed her hate. I am so not looking forward to what is going to come of her and her hateful gang being left alone. Real talk, I would have been like, “We will leave all you Cohorts alone, as long as you give us her!” winky face I’m a petty and bitter bitch.
➽ Horace Dearborn – Thank you, next.
➽ The Kelpie (that Julian saved) – I always love the magical creatures of stories, that come and help and save that day. But this was too damn much for me. TOO DAMN MUCH.
➽ Manuel Casales – This guy is so chaotic evil. And I’m so bitter that he didn’t die while Emma and Julian were on their wild rampage.
➽ Diego Rosales – I also really couldn’t ever truly like Diego. Yeah, he did Kieran a solid, and I respect it, but I still never really liked him. He is one of the few side characters I’m okay saying goodbye to.
➽ Jaime Rosales – I feel like CC is just going to give Dru all the options between Ash, Cameron, and Jaime, but Jaime is the one that skeezes me out for some reason. I just, don’t want it to happen. Nice dagger gift and all, boy no.
➽ Diana Wrayburn – I will say that I was a little uncomfortable with how Julian and Emma found out about Diana being trans, but I am honestly just so happy that she is living her best life now, while being able to be open. And the talk she has with Julian and Emma, when she is like, “No, I’ve always been a woman.” Praise/bless. Give me an entire Diana series, please, Cassie Clare.
➽ Gwyn – Wow, the best character in the entire Shadowhunter universe. The blessings.
➽ Catarina Loss – Catarina is the best side character, and she does so much good, and she is so pure, and I wept extra hard when she stood by Magnus at his wedding. Like, these warlocks put me in my feels every single time.
➽ Ragnor Fell / Shade – And this warlock just makes me laugh so damn hard. And I cheered out loud when the reveal actually came to fruition! I can’t wait to see even more of him with Ty in Scholomance.
➽ Annabel Blackthorn – What a missed opportunity in this book to not give Annabel a better story. I’ll talk more about this below, but Annabel deserved better, especially with how breathtaking this cover it.
➽ The (old) Unseelie King – I don’t know if I just forgot, or if I never picked up on it, but this dude had a half skeletal, half handsome face? That’s actually badass.
➽ The Seelie Queen – This bitch. She legit just shows up in every book, in every timeline, just to rain on everyone’s parade.
➽ Tessa & Jem – I screamed all over again after they announced they were pregnant. And now that they are going to raise a Herondale, Kit, so he can be safe? Ah, I just love this little family so much.
➽ Izzy & Simon – I really wish they played bigger roles in this story, and that we would have received two weddings in this 900+ page tome!
➽ Clary Fairchild – I won’t lie, I was really disappointed when we found out what Clary’s vision really was. God, I mean, I knew Cassie wouldn’t actually kill her, but I wanted to so much more, and it was a really anticlimactic reasoning.
➽ Jace Herondale – “I would die for Jace to shoot finger guns at me” – Lea, 2018. Real talk, Jace had me actually laughing out loud during this entire book and I loved and hated every single second of it. Especially his banter with Kit, I mean, Christopher. And when Jace voted in Alec for Consul of the Clave? The tears just won’t stop, friends.
➽ Evil Jace Herondale – Lord, why do you want us to suffer?
“There is nothing simple about vengeance, and nothing pure”
Okay, so one element or “trope” that I hate when books do is that alternate and/or parallel universe storyline. And I never, in a million years, would have guessed that Cassie Clare would pull this in QoAaD, but here we are. I’ll be honest, I kind of loved the concept of a Mad Max world where Sebastian Morgenstern not only won the Dark War, but now rules, but the entirety of Part Two was a little too much for me. Especially because they didn’t even bring back Thule Livvy and Thule Raphael. And in return, it almost felt like tragedy porn seeing them live again. And now we have an evil Jace in our world and on the loose to… kill Clary? Love Clary? To do something with Clary? Yikes.
But the true reason I am giving this book four stars, and the reason I probably think it is the weakest book in The Dark Artifices is because of Annabel. What a missed opportunity to have an amazing villain character. Instead, she dies at 60%, only for us to be rickrolled with a demon pretending to be her. She died so easily, too, and it felt so bad. I mean, she is on the cover of this book! And the title is completely her! Why would she barely show up in the 900+ pages, have the lamest death, and have no character development when she could have been such an amazing and intricate character.
“Please don’t leave me in this world without you.”
And then let’s not forget about Julian and Emma turning into giant, angel versions of King Kong, picking up and yeeting the bad guys. Even though, Zara conveniently didn’t get yeeted. Like, for a second I actually thought Emma was going to die, and then, in turn, Julian would have died, too. But when Emma said, “Let us burn.” I thought they would just die and become angels together, and my emo and sappy ass would have loved that. But instead, the whole wild giant thing happened, and then words of their loved ones “healed” them. Which was eyeroll worthy, but also sweet. Yet, when the heavenly fire didn’t damage ANYTHING except their parabatai bond? You all, I can’t. It just feels so unsatisfying. And Emma and Julian really are my favorite couple in all things Shadowhunter, but even I can’t just accept that and pretend it was realistic. I honestly think CC just wrote herself into a hole, and putting a bright and shiny bow on it was the only option, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I will also say that the ending was completely and utterly fanservice, but it was fanservice that I ate up with a spoon and asked for more. Magnus and Alec’s wedding was everything, and Alec’s proposal made me actually ugly cry. Just seeing everything that these two have been through, all the lives they’ve impacted, all the family they have made, they were just so damn deserving of this happiness. And then the short story after the epilogue? With Jace and Clary in that greenhouse? God, that greenhouse. It really feels so full circle, doesn’t it? All of these original characters have brought me so much happiness in 2018, and seeing them get moments of pure happiness at the end of this book was honestly everything.
“As long as you exist and I exist, I will love you.”
Overall, I’d give my life for Emma Carstairs and any of the Blackthorns and I will never forget this reading experience. Picking up City of Bones this year was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And now I finally get to wait and suffer for the next thing Cassie Clare publishes with the rest of you!
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