{ Review } Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

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“Some lights were never meant to burn for long.”

Read in December 2018

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spoilers below:

It literally took me ages to write this review, and for good reasons: so much happened in this book and I didn’t know (and still don’t) where to start. Disclaimer here, my review will probably be as messy as the feelings I had while reading Queen of Air and Darkness, you’ve been warned. First of all, for those of you who didn’t know, I have the most conflictual relationship with Cassandra Clare’s books. I hate Clary and Jace in the Mortal Instruments, and I find the series itself very bad. Concerning the Infernal Devices trilogy, I was not convinced after reading Clockwork Angel, however, the two other instalments slowly grew on me and I found that the last book was so great that it went to my favourite list. Now let’s talk about The Dark Artifices, I was honestly determined to stop reading Cassie’s book, and a dear friend of mine insisted that I read those, she insisted so much that eventually, I did. And I was the first one surprised that both Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows went straight to my all-time-favourite. It was two years ago and still today I can’t find a book that I adore as much as I adored them. Needless to say, I had tremendous expectations for Queen of Air and Darkness, and I’m sorry to say that overall I’m both amazed and disappointed by this book.

Queen of Air and Darkness is the final instalment in the Dark Artifices trilogy, so of course, I was expecting a satisfying conclusion, but knowing it will lead into the Wicked Power series I knew there would be some unfinished business. The story picks up immediately after the end of Lord of Shadows, Livvy is dead and the Blackthorn family is mourning. I’m in awe, the portrayal of grieving is so well described, each one of them has their own way to deal with the loss, and it wasn’t sugarcoated. Julian is devastated, overwhelmed as a parent is when their child dies. He is getting darker and overcome by revenge. He is in so much pain it was actually difficult to read, and the idea that he has to stay away from Emma, his anchor, is just too much for him. Ty has lost half of himself; he knows he can’t live in a world where Livvy is no more, therefore, he is determined to bring her back, suppressing his grief in the meantime. Mark is actually grieving over her for the second time, he thought he lost her when he was in the Hunt, then he found her back, only to lose her once more. Emma and Kit are trying to be supportive but are also deeply touched by her death only they are trying to hide it. Alec, who also lost his father, throws himself into work, he wants to dedicate his life to make the world a better place for both Shadowhunters and Downworlders.

“Grief can be so bad you can’t breathe, but that’s what it means to be human. We lose, we suffer, but we have to keep breathing.”

There is no right or wrong way to deal with a loved one’s death, and Cassandra Clare shows it perfectly well in this book. I cried many times while reading QoAaD, the pain and the rage and the dismay are so vivid and real, I was in awe. However, I feel like Ty and Julian were inconsiderate to everyone else around, especially to their closest support Kit and Emma. Hear me out, I would probably have reacted the same way they did in the same situation, but as a reader seeing the bigger picture, I can’t help but complain. The fact that Julian went to Magnus while he was sick begging him to use his power to make his feelings go away was selfish and I still cannot understand why Magnus agreed. Other than his weakness due to the use of his power, Magnus is probably the character who knows the most about the importance of feelings, even pain and sorrow, even more love. It seemed out of character that he agreed to it. And Emma had it rough. She just managed to deal with the death of her parents that she now has to start all over again with the loss of her daughter/sister. Now Julian, her parabatai, the man she is in love with, is here but not here anymore. I get that he needed to make the pain go away but that was so selfish of him.

Characters & relationships:

I’m forever impressed that CC is able to make me care about so many different characters, how she develops villain and heroes alike, how she plans and plots for future books. Her diversity, as always impressive, she includes many characters from the LGBTQ+ community, but also racial and body diversity, representation for mental health as well as one of the main characters from the autism spectrum. Being able to identify with characters and feeling properly represented is really what I like the most when I read. I think it’s the first time I read about a polyamorous couple and it was magnificent, I really loved the dynamics between Mark, Cristina and Kieran, they fit so well together and their balance is exquisite. If I had to choose one word to describe Cristina, it would be ‘loving’. She is so pure and commits in all the relationships she has (including her friendship with Emma). She is made to be with Mark who is equally pure and lovable. I’m still not a fan of Kieran but I grew warmer around him, and he fits so well in the trouple that I’m still happy. I just want them to be happy without having to hide their relationship from the world.

“Let it be that you should know no further sorrow”

I don’t know if it was confirmed by the author or not, but I need Kit and Ty as a couple ASAP. I’m seriously so sad that the Wicked Powers is going to be released after the Lost Hours because I want more NOW. Kit is the coolest character, his POV is so refreshing since he wasn’t raised as a Shadowhunter, and I feel like he will be even more badass after his time with Jem & Tessa. Also, the fact that he has a claim on all Faerie is making me even more eager. I hate that he and Ty separated without saying goodbye on a misunderstanding and that they probably won’t see each other for the years between the two series. Kit really gave all of him, following and protecting Ty in his quest to find Livvy back. He is so patient; I feel like he is the only one (with Julian and Livvy) who truly understands what Ty needs in life. Kit’s inner enamoured monologue over Ty was to die for and honestly, I can’t wait to read about their realization of their queerness. I don’t know for sure who’s bi or gay but I don’t care I need them together and happy.

“Ty likes familiar things,” said Kit. “He won’t know where he is when he wakes up. We should make sure his bag is here, and whatever stuff he brought from London”

I know I’ve said it over and over, but I. SHIP. JEMMA. More than that, I ship Emma, and I ship Julian individually, and I ship them even more as a couple. I can say without any doubts that Emma is my favourite female character in the Shadowhunter universe and Julian my favourite male character (even before Tessa & Will). More than that, they are my favourite OTP ever, tie with Feysand. Emma has evolved so much through the trilogy, she has come to terms with who she really is, has accepted all of herself even the darkest parts. She is so badass, brave and caring. Even though she has been through a lot, she still has so much empathy. Julian is the perfect anti-hero. He has so much darkness, anger and insecurities, I can’t help myself to love him. He has made a lot of questionable decisions and could throw anyone under the bus to protect his loved ones. I know many don’t like him, but his personality hits something deep inside me and I can’t explain why but I just worship him. I’ve read here and there that Julian might be demisexual and I’m down with that.

“You might be in the cage, Jules, but as long as you are like this, I am in the cage with you.”

So many characters are worth mentioning, but I already know that I will not be able to do them all justice. I loved Helen and Aline, they were the moms the Blackthorns deserved to grow up with. The resentment Dru had for Helen was unexpected and yet very well described, and I live for Aline standing up for Helen in front of the kids. Also, how Aline decided to give fake-names to Downworlders was perfection. Due to his young age, we didn’t see much of Tavvy, but we got to see much of Dru she got so included in the story, I love Julian so much more when I read about them, he raised them to be so brave and loving kids. Dru was the Blackthorn I liked the least in the previous books but she truly shone in QoAaD, and I loved when she asked Kit to teach her how to pick locks. I wasn’t a fan of Jaimie and Diego, I still feel like they were an unnecessary addition because I couldn’t feel connected to them at all, however, I liked how they gave depth to Cristina. Last but not least, Diana and Gwyn were truly amazing and I loved them so much. I mean Diana is so powerful that even the Cohort fears her.

The plot:

Overall this book had BIG pacing issues in my opinion. Other than the grieving description that was brilliant, I found the first part too long, overall uneventful and mostly boring. I already cannot remember what happened in it and that’s usually a bad sign. However, the second part was my favourite, and I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but I couldn’t put my book down during that part. I loved to see the alternate universe in Thule, I haven’t finished reading the Mortal Instruments (I still have the two last books to read, but I’m not sure I ever will) so the part where Clary died and Sebastian lived wasn’t that important to me. However, Livvy’s life without Ty was so interesting to read about and Julian having feelings once more was what I was living for. On the other hand, the last part, including the ending that I will further discuss below, was only ok. Some part felt rushed others just didn’t make sense. For instance, how come Annabel dies so easily at the end of the second third of the book? She is supposed to be the great villain and she is even on the cover of this book. Making her die so soon was a missed opportunity and Cassie had to create some more drama in order to give us an epic ending.

“Please don’t leave me in this world without you.”

I’m still not able to decide if it’s a good thing or not, but I found this book too political. I think that overall it’s a good thing to address political issues but it was really too frequent in this book. Also, it felt so close to now-a-day politic and I’m not sure how I feel about that in fantasy or urban fantasy that was not advertised as such. The way the Dearborns use fear and hatred to manipulate is something that happened times and times over throughout history, and it’s kind of the easy path. We’ve always known that they are conflicts and prejudices between some Shadowhunters and Downworlders, but I’m kind of tired of inner Shadowhunter conflicts ending in wars in every one of CC’s series. Annabel was the best villain she’d ever written; she was actually a grey character and her death wasted the opportunity for an epic fight with her and I’m still kind of mad about it. The replacement villains, AKA Zara and the Cohort were so caricatural that they were easy to hate and I prefer when authors make us feel for both sides on a conflict.

The ending:

First of all, you need to know that I’m a complicated person when it comes to ending series I feel passionate about. I want all my babies to be well and happy and at the same time, I want tears and death. No matter how happy it makes me, I’m still a bit disappointed when things are going well for everyone, and I curse the author for choosing the easy way out. Also, because they want to reach a spectacular climax when things end well, it often gives me the impression of being underwhelmed. Well, that was the case here, I’m happy with most of the character’s situation at the end but I’m frustrated that they didn’t have enough consequences for everything that happened prior to the end. Let me start with the fact that I personally think that war battle scene (including hundreds of characters) are not Cassie’s forte. She always finishes series this way and that’s a shame because I have the same feeling of being lost every time. Once again, that scene was awkwardly written and I was so confused from the beginning of it to the moment Emma gets stabbed. I even tried to re-read it twice but I only understood snippets. And then things get wild.

“No shining new world could be built on blood and bones.”

I feel like she lost control of the story because, for a second, I actually think that Emma is going to die and that either Julian would have to go over his obsession for her and survive to take care of his family or that he would die as well, the result of the curse of the parabatai lovers. And for the reasons I just explained I would have been sad, but happy with the ending (and it would have given an interesting starting point for the next series). And it would have made sense with the tragic romance arc Jemma had. But instead, the whole burning giant happened, conveniently killing the bad guys and then were heal back to human thanks to the love of their loved ones. And of course, they are all the same except the parabatai bound that was damaged by the heavenly fire. I mean… How convenient, how underwhelming, how cliché and how deus ex-machina-y is that? If Cassie wanted the characters to survive, they would have needed to suffer more consequences to make me satisfied. I know they are my favourite OTP but I needed things to be at least believable to make me happy.

Also, I know I’m a weirdo, for instance, one of my favourites scenes was when they were reciting the parabatai vow while having sex, it was so hot. Well, I wanted them to find a way to be both parabatai and a couple. I want parabatai lovers who still have a connection in bed and in a fight. I’m not satisfied with the reason they gave for why parabatai can’t be in love so this will forever remain as the most unsatisfying explanation given to a forbidden love story. Overall this trilogy is a love letter to families, the one we choose, the one who chose us and the one we didn’t. And I’ll keep cherishing the Blackthorns all my life. ❤️

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


Have you read or will you read this book?
What did you think about it?

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French Book Blogger and avid reader 📚 - YA, Adult, NA, Fantasy, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance -, LGBT & disability rep 🏳️‍🌈, Ravenclaw Potterhead △⃒⃘, English teacher 👩🏼‍🏫 living to travel 🌍, proud mom of Padfoot 🐕 and Juniper 🐈

One thought on “{ Review } Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

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