Lord of Shadows – Cassandra Clare

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(Published by Margaret K. McElderry – 2017)

Synopsis:

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

 

Review:

*Disclaimer – this was written last year after I had read the book but previously has not been published*

Oh my Lord (of Shadows) I had to wait to write down my thoughts on this one, it was intense!

Following on from Lady Midnight and leading on to Queen of Air & Darkness which will complete The Dark Artifices Trilogy, Lord of Shadows is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill middle novel; oh no. Lord of Shadows is fast-paced and filled with the adventure, sword fights and relationship woes that we have come to expect from Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter novels. You almost forget how big it is. Almost.

I’ve read on another review that it would be handy to have read The Infernal Devices trilogy which I have not yet done (I read the first one and didn’t get the buzz so I did not continue that particular branch of the Shadowhunter tree) before reading The Dark Artifices however I haven’t had any issues, some references have probably just passed me by. I am now prepared for The Infernal Devices and will be giving them another go, I promise J

So, before I move on too much I am aware I haven’t reviewed Lady Midnight so in brief: I loved it. It’s a huge book but it has such endearing characters and a fast plot that I read it pretty quickly for me even though I couldn’t carry the great tome around in my bag for fear of causing long-lasting back issues. The same happened with Lord of Shadows, once I started I wanted to devour the whole thing in one go and drool my way to the library to pick up Queen of Air & Darkness (which isn’t in stock yet so I have to wait *sigh*).

Lord of Shadows is a seamless transition from book one to book two and I was definitely still in the zone when I got around to reading it. The narrative moves quickly and although you might not be into the teenage love story drama undertones there is plenty more to keep you going in my opinion. The severe detail in this world astounds me, Cassandra Clare must live, sleep and breathe these plotlines she has thought of everything and she’s releasing multiple books this year too, what a machine!

Reading Lord of Shadows was definitely an immersive experience to say the least, nothing is glossed over; every character is developed with fears and agendas of their own. While there are several ‘main’ characters the plot revolves around Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn who I do enjoy reading about and I am looking forward to seeing where their story goes but I definitely prefer the chapters surrounding Mark, Christina and Kit. Just personal preference I think – luckily they get a decent amount of page time and hopefully their stories will be completed in the last novel as I am filled with intrigue about them and their connections in the Shadowhunter World.

In terms of plot development, Lord of Shadows moves the story on nicely without making a pointless new storyline to keep us going as you often find with trilogies. The characters are continually developed and overall it is a genuinely enjoyable read. I will say however that the end of this book felt slightly rushed, as if Clare was so excited to give you her big finish that she just couldn’t hold it in any longer and you instinctively read faster as you reach that crescendo. Luckily, I haven’t had long to wait for the release of the third novel but I imagine for those that did, it was quite a painful struggle to be patient.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Blog Tour – The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel

Published by Rock The Boat Publications (UK – February 2020)

Ahh Good Morning Lovelies!
Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel! This is my first time doing one of these events so be kind and I hope I give this book the justice it deserves.
I was sent this ridiculously bright book by Rock the Boat Publications as part of this blog tour and to be honest, I loved this book from the moment I took it out of the envelope! The yellow is so bright and optimistic, it kept drawing my gaze before I picked it up as if it was determined not to be ignored, which considering its content, is (and I quote) fucking perfect.
For each stop on this blog tour, Amy has chosen a song to accompany our reviews and the song for today is Ordinary People by John Legend. This is such a beautiful song, I’m really pleased to listen to it and share Amy’s thoughts on it:

I love a love song, how they can so perfectly capture the blind-sided euphoria of the beginnings of something. The flutterings of instant attraction. The will-they-won’t-they of unrequited lust. And then there’s the break-up ballads of the I’ll-never-love-again. The heart-broken, barely breathing devastation of loss. Like many love stories, love songs are usually at one end of the relationship or the other. And yet Ordinary People is extraordinary for its depiction of middling love, which can be fraught with the passions and frustrations of both the beginning and the end, weirdly existing alongside the mundanity of day-to-day coupledom. And that’s why I’d have it on the island. Because while separation can allow us to glorify romantic love, Ordinary People would be a reminder of its hardships, of its need for effort and compromise over its need for fast-beating hearts and thrills. It’s love with longevity. It’s real. ~ Amy Beashel.

If you would like to listen to the songs on Amy’s playlist, you can find the playlist on Spotify here.

From the Back Cover:
Izzy feels invisible. Trapped under the weight of expectation and censored by shame.

Her mum Steph and best friend Grace have always been there to save her. But with one under the control of her stepfather and the other caught in the throes of new love, Izzy is falling between the cracks.

As threats to her safety grow, Izzy wants to scream. But first she must find her voice.

And if the sky is the limit, then the sky is hers.

Review:

This book comes with some wonderful endorsements on the cover and I have to agree with all of them. As a debut novel, Amy tackles a really sensitive subject which has a lot of relevance in today’s society and I think she does it with a great deal of poise and realism.

Izzy is our protagonist, she’s a teenager who finds herself in a difficult and hurtful situation. I’m not going to go into details and I think the book itself doesn’t discuss the situation in a lot of depth instead briefly touching on the events enough for you to invest in the characters situations and understand their actions. The trigger warning on the email from the publisher says The Sky is Mine contains material some readers may find distressing, including discussions of rape, coercive behaviour, domestic violence and abuse. We are grateful to sexual health and wellbeing charity Brook for undertaking a sensitivity read. So I did have some pre-warning.

Izzy lives with her mum, Steph and her (evil) stepfather Daniel. I’m not kidding about the evil bit either. Daniel is a manipulative bully and reading about his actions and the things he said made me physically angry while I was reading the book. His constant comments about weight and their bodies really got to me. I was emotionally invested not only in Izzy, but in Steph too as they both battle through really damaging situations. Izzy not only feels the distance between her and Steph but also between her and Grace, her best friend who is besotted with her new girlfriend which I’m sure a lot of readers can relate to.

There are a lot of relationships explored in The Sky is Mine and I found them refreshing. I didn’t once think any of the interactions were overdone or clichéd. Nothing was made more complicated than it needed to be and I didn’t think anything was dragged out or made into a spectacle which was fantastic. The narrative explores itself through Izzy’s love of music and how music speaks to everyone differently but triggers empathy in its listeners on a personal level. Ultimately, the music speaks to people and gets it’s voice heard which is what Izzy needs to accomplish to free herself and i think is why she adores it so much.
The coercion and manipulative culture displayed in the novel made me feel sick, not only the words but the feeling behind it. In today’s society you see displays of this behaviour in public and online nearly on a daily basis. Online bullying, through photos is a very real problem and I can only hope that this novel being in the world will aid anyone who has experienced these things and maybe bring a change into accepted attitudes and behaviours.

I think all young people should read this book. Beashel has found a voice for so many sufferers of emotional, physical and sexual abuse because ultimately at the heart of this novel is the voice of not just Izzy and Steph but of Grace and of Harry too. Everyone has a voice and everyone deserves to be heard and feel comfortable saying no in a society that encourages people to say yes to every opportunity and experience as much as possible as soon as possible. Please read this novel and pass it to your friends to read so that it can spread it’s message as far as possible because we will not be silenced.

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Thanks for reading,

Cat x