First Lines: Shadow Market nights were Kit’s favorite. They were the nights he was allowed to leave the house and help his father at the booth. He’d been coming to the Shadow Market since he was seven years old.
My decision to read this book was unique for a couple of reasons. First, it was something I hadn’t planned on picking up–ever. Not until a number of you here recommended it to me in the comments of a post over the summer. (A few months later, my 16 year old cousin recommended this too.) Second, I don’t like to pick up a book when I know I’m not up-to-date on the series. I stopped reading Clare’s books after Infernal Devices ended (and I never read the last 3 books of Mortal Instruments). And I don’t remember a whole lot about either series, but I hoped it was enough to pass through this.
In the Shadowhunter world, a parabatai is a sacred thing–a friend you tie your life to, a person you trust with everything you have inside you and they to you. But the most important rule is that you can never fall in love with your parabatai. Emma Carstairs is one of the best warriors of her age and, with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn at her side, she’s nearly unbeatable. But war looms on the horizon as other supernatural creatures–vampires, werewolves, faeries–all chafe under the rule of the Shadowhunters. When bodies start turning up in the same mysterious fashion as Emma’s parents five years earlier, an uneasy alliance is formed to try to get to the bottom of the mystery. It’s Emma’s chance at revenge and Julian’s chance to get his brother Mark back. They have to solve the murders in two weeks–and before the murderer makes them targets. But each clue leads to more secrets. Who killed Emma’s parents? Why are they killing again? What is Julian hiding from her? And why is it that parabatai are forbidden to fall in love?
Reading this was a little like slipping back into an old favorite high school sweatshirt: comfortable, nostalgic, but also noting how you’ve changed since you wore it last. (I’ll explain that soon.)
The story itself is really interesting. The plot was always fast-paced and action packed, with a touch of romance and a mystery underlying the whole thing. The mystery was good and I particularly relished the fact that Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” was always the chapter titles. (I’ve taught that poem for 4 years–by the 3rd chapter, I’d noticed the trend.) But I just want to point out that it seems like every one of these Shadowhunter books seems to follow the same format when it comes to the romance. That kind of made things a little boring at moments.
While I don’t remember Emma or Julian from any of the previous books, apparently they were there with the amount of times they talk about Clary and Jace. Emma is a brash, adventurous, impulsive lead. She has vowed revenge on the person who killed her parents five years ago, not believing the Clave’s assertion that Sebastian Morgenstern was responsible. But her impulses are tempered by Julian, her parabatai. Julian is responsible, reserved, and fiercely protective of his family. With his parents dead and his elder brother and sister taken away in the wake of the Cold Peace, it’s fallen on him to raise his four younger siblings (who were adorable, by the way).
I very much liked the characters and the fact that a number of them from the previous series came back. But having been so long since I’ve read the previous books (and the few I’ve skipped) made it feel like, at times, that I was missing something.
As is usual for Clare, she blends a lot of story lines together throughout this story. So on top of following Julian and Emma, we also get Julian’s older half-fey brother Mark telling part of the story. And we get Emma’s new friend Cristina’s perspective. (Cristina is from an Institute in Mexico, and she’s spending a year abroad in LA’s Institute. But Cristina’s also running from something in her past.)
And Clare mixes in a number of heavy themes and ideas. Betrayal, love (familial, forbidden, etc.), revenge, heartbreak, trust, murder. There’s a lot going on. And, as is also usual for her, a few of her characters are LGBT+. Not all, but a few.
I really did enjoy the story…but like I mentioned earlier, I can tell I’ve changed a lot since I read the last books. Something happened to Emma and Julian in this book that was very similar to something that happened to Clary and Jace in the first series. And I remember my reaction to that. My reaction to Emma and Julian’s problem was vastly different. I was much more “You’re doing the right thing” than “NO! What are you doing?! STOP!” It was just…it was a little weird for me.
I felt like an adult…it was an icky feeling.
I’ve also recently discovered that this series, as of my writing this, has now been completed, which is awesome. I so hate trying to remember complicated stories over a long period of time. Hopefully now I’ll quickly read the next two!