The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

An evocative combination of fantasy, history, and Jewish folklore, The Light of the Midnight Stars is fairytale-inspired novel from the author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood.

Deep in the Hungarian woods, the sacred magic of King Solomon lives on in his descendants. Gathering under the midnight stars, they pray, sing and perform small miracles – and none are more gifted than the great Rabbi Isaac and his three daughters. Each one is blessed with a unique talent – whether it be coaxing plants to grow, or predicting the future by reading the path of the stars.

When a fateful decision to help an outsider ends in an accusation of witchcraft, fire blazes through their village. Rabbi Isaac and his family are forced to flee, to abandon their magic and settle into a new way of life. But a dark fog is making its way across Europe and will, in the end, reach even those who thought they could run from it. Each of the sisters will have to make a choice – and change the future of their family forever.

For more from Rena Rossner, check out The Sisters of the Winter Wood.

My Review
3 out of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Rossner’s first book, The Sisters of the Winter Wood and was excited to try her sophomore novel. Admittedly the synopsis didn’t quite grab my attention as much, but I really enjoyed her writing and anything involving fairy tales or retellings is still very much my vibe. I didn’t quite mash with this one as much. I think this is mainly due to three POV characters crammed into one story that is also about 30% full of short stories. We have three adolescent sisters who are discovering themselves, their abilities, and finding romance. There is just a lot going on in a short period of time. I do think this is a great novel for short story and fairy tale lovers, as the short stories are woven into the main novel, with many even being told by the 3 POV characters themselves to share their journey or their opinion to another. I also think this novel is very culturally driven as it is strongly woven into Jewish and Eastern European culture. I think readers who are of that descent or have more knowledge of those peoples will appreciate this novel for what it is. I do still really enjoy Ms. Rossner’s writing as well. Again, I just had a harder time becoming attached to each of the characters and rooting for them when there was just so much going on.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

See this review on Goodreads.

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In An Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) by Seanan McGuire

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

My Review
5 out of 5 stars

In each book of the Wayward Children series, readers are teleported into a new portal world. This 4th installment has probably the most intriguing and well crafted portal world. It’s loosely based off the poem “The Goblin Market” where inhabitants can visit various merchant stalls of a somewhat magical and enchanting market. Ms. McGuire’s magical goblin market, however, doesn’t operate per currency. Rather, the sellers and buyers agree to what constitutes fair value. The buyer must be careful as to what they trade, as debts in the world of the Goblin market have consequences. As an example, our heroine Lundy commonly offers a pencil in exchange for a year-long supply of meat pies– adults in the Goblin Market love being able to write things down, but pencils are not created in their world. A pencil thus has pretty high value, at least to those who want to write things down. The whole concept is commentary on today’s social and economic disparities; a $5 meatpie isn’t worth much to someone making 6-figures, but may be a lot to someone who only has $5 to their name.

The characters of the portal world also further build upon the atmosphere of the world. The two main market characters are Moon and the Archivist. Moon is a young girl who was abandoned at the market at a young age and as such is trapped as a citizen of the market. She doesn’t have a home to return to, so she is only a lost child subject to her childish whims and best efforts to follow the market’s rules and not incur debt. Moon becomes a dear friend to Lundy, who, as a child, Lundy is able to travel back and forth between her world and the goblin market as she wishes. But she cannot travel and and forth when she turns 18, so she must choose to stay and take an oath of citizenship prior to her 18th birthday. Moon is someone who needs Lundy’s support, so can she leave her friend behind when the time comes?

The Archivist is the responsible adult figure that Lundy frequently seeks for advice. The Archivist is knowledgeable of the market and its rules. She has answers to most problems that Lundy and Moon have and will help out in exchange for a fair price.

The novella itself is mainly about Lundy and the Market, so while important events happen within it, they take a backseat to focus on Lundy’s adventures.

All Wayward Children books are standalone, but I recommend reading the first book, Every Heart a Doorway, prior to this one.

See this review on Goodreads.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making, from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy.

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

My Review
4 out of 5 stars

A Promised Land is the first presidential memoir I have read, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect going in. I realized while reading it that presidential memoirs are not only books sold to the present-day public for leisure reading material, but also as a historical primary account to be referenced for all of time. Obama starts out this memoir with a sprinkling of his early life, but mainly focuses on the political career that leads to his eventual decision to run for president. From there, we get his account of his campaign trail onwards. He is incredibly self-reflective, and looks back at the reasons why he approached issues and made decisions the way he did. What he could have done better, and where he wished he was able to do this but couldn’t because of that. His account is pretty detailed, and while some of the issues (mainly those related to war efforts) go a bit over my head, I think it is digestible for casual readers. He lightens the mood throughout the book by incorporating his family life, more personal interactions among important political and foreign leaders as well as regular people, and some occasional jokes. It all helps remind you that he is a person just like you and me. 

While I am aware of the President’s Cabinet and White House staff, Obama’s inside account of all the people involved and the work that they do to help the president was interesting. It’s easy to forget there is a whole bundle of people behind the scenes helping the person who ends up addressing the public and getting the credit and/or criticisms.

I know Obama is writing a second book, and that this one is pretty long, but it does stop fairly abruptly. I was reading the ebook copy with about 50 pages left, only to find that the following pages were captioned photographs and the index. The moment where it stops is a big one in regards to his presidential career, but given his love of self-reflection, it would have felt much less jarring if there was a concluding chapter. I think it’s best going into this one that this is only a part 1 of 2.

See this review on Goodreads.

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.

Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.

Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.

With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.

My Review
4 out of 5 stars

This is a Norse mythology retelling in the same vain as Madeline Miller’s Greek mythology retelling of Circe. It is an approachable and humanistic view of a lesser-known mythic witch, Angrboda. She is only known as the mother of monsters Fenrir, Jörmungand, and Hel, who are involved in Ragnarök. She doesn’t always get the spotlight in Norse retellings, so here we are presented with her life as she would have lived it. It begins with her retreat to an old forest, the Ironwood, after refusing to teach Odin what he wanted to know. Here she is quickly found by Loki, the Trickster God who returns the heart that Odin and the Aesir tore from her body. Loki keeps returning to the Ironwood, and overtime they fall in love with one another. Through Angroboda’s eyes, you feel what it’s like to be in a relationship with the trickster and to birth and raise their children. Angrboda turns into a very devoted mother who struggles with a father who seems much less so. And as a seer-witch, Angrboda’s struggles with the future that her children are destined to bring.

I definitely recommend if you enjoy modern myth retellings, especially if you enjoy Madeline Miller’s books. If I have on qualm in my comparison to Miller, it’s that Miller’s writing is a little bit more poetic, but Gornichec here makes a strong debut nonetheless.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a free eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

See this review on Goodreads.

Shine (Shine #1) by Jessica Jung

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

A Korean American teen is thrust into the competitive, technicolor world of K-pop, from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Girls Generation.

What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?

For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right?

Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.

My Review
4 out 5 stars

I really enjoyed this! While I have been a casual k-pop fan for about a decade, I have really taken the plunge this past year with really stanning a few groups. I partially blame the fact that I was stuck inside most of 2020, but let’s face it, it was only a matter of time before I fell into being an ARMY, Blink, MOA, MooMoo, and others….

Anyway, did my current love of k-pop influence my enjoyment of this book? Yes, I think so. The fact that a previous SNSD member wrote this was already too good to pass up! Girls Generation is the OG group for me! Well, at least back when I was a more casual fan. Could you argue whether or not Ms. Jung wrote this book? Yes, I think you could, but that doesn’t make it better or worse. It really is just a fun and easy-to-read YA contemporary following a K-pop trainee. We get to see what it’s like on the inside and all of the pressure, expectations, standards, and sexism that female trainees and idols face.

The characters felt genuine to me– genuine as in how a k-pop trainee or idol may be in their regular day-to-day life. We follow Rachel Kim, a Korean American who has dreamed of becoming an idol since she was 11. She uprooted her entire family to move to Korea so she can follow her dream, but her time is running out. Soon she will be too old to debut. Her mother requires her to go to a “regular” school and living with her family rather than attending the trainee academy and living in the trainee dorms. (I put regular in quotes here because she school is some super high-end rich kid only school, where Simone Biles comes to teach students gymnastics in gym glass?!? Among other elite things…) She rushes to the record label every weekend to train and be evaluated by the execs. Naturally she faces some hate from other trainees since she is given such a special status– mainly Mina Choo whose rich dad’s connections allowed her to be a trainee in the first place. Things really heat up between them when the record label decides to use a female trainee to sing a duet with one of their most popular male idols, Jason Lee of the group NEXT BOYZ.

Honestly, it’s some good teenage drama set in a k-pop world. It’s well written and easy to follow. I am disappointed that this isn’t a standalone, though. I think we could’ve wrapped this all up in one book. Ah well, here’s to hoping book two is just as good.

See this review on Goodreads.

The Lost Book of the White (The Eldest Curses #2) by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

From #1 New York Times bestselling authors Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu comes the second book in the Eldest Curses series and a thrilling new adventure for High Warlock Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood, for whom a death-defying mission into the heart of evil is not just a job, it’s also a romantic getaway. The Lost Book of the White is a Shadowhunters novel.

Life is good for Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood. They’re living together in a fabulous loft, their warlock son, Max, has started learning to walk, and the streets of New York are peaceful and quiet—as peaceful and quiet as they ever are, anyway.

Until the night that two old acquaintances break into Magnus’s apartment and steal the powerful Book of the White. Now Magnus and Alec will have to drop everything to get it back. They need to follow the thieves to Shanghai, they need to call some backup to accompany them, and they need a babysitter.

Also, someone has stabbed Magnus with a strange magical weapon and the wound is glowing, so they have that to worry about too.

Fortunately, their backup consists of Clary, Jace, Isabelle, and newly minted Shadowhunter Simon. In Shanghai, they learn that a much darker threat awaits them. Magnus’s magic is growing unstable, and if they can’t stop the demons flooding into the city, they might have to follow them all the way back to the source—to the very realm of the dead. Can they stop the threat to the world? Will they make it back home before their kid completely wears out Alec’s mom?

My Review
4 out of 5 stars

*Spoilers for the Mortal Instruments series are mentioned in this review, but you shouldn’t be reading these books without having read the Mortal Instruments anyway*

The bonus chapter with Tessa and Jem was just beautiful. ;D Really, almost giving it 5 stars just for that, but the actual story is around 3-4 stars. The stakes for this trilogy so far haven’t been very high due to the fact that its happening in the past to characters whose futures you already know about. So the plot of Magnus Bane being stabbed by a mysterious demonic horn which affects his magic and body doesn’t seem very threatening in the end.

But the spark of the plot involves gathering the whole Mortal Instruments crew–Magnus has to go to Shanghai to retrieve the Lost Book of The White. Alec is concerned over the wound and must travel with his boyfriend. Alec’s parabatai Jace must come because powerful Shadowhunter fighting partners are always helpful. Jace has to bring his girlfriend Clary, so her parabatai Simon has to come, which then leaves Simon’s girlfriend Izzy needing to come. And heck, Izzy is Alec’s brother, so we come full circle! I just love the Mortal Instruments crew, so I am suckered in once again! This series very much seems like fanfiction since it involves throwing everybody in, but it’s just what I want. Simon and Izzy in particular are my favorite characters from all the Shadowhunter books, so any way to include them in the mix is a win for me.

The villain here is a powerful demon of hell who talks like a game show host, so he is funny, but definitely doesn’t feel threatening. But again, the stakes are so low it doesn’t matter! I just keep reading all of it for the characters.

I will say that the incorporation of Chinese folklore and mythology into the very Eurocentric and Christian-based Shadowhunters world was very cool in my opinion. In particular I liked the Chinese phoenix. What made it so cool is that Mrs. Clare has gone out of her way to include the globe into her Shadowhunters world, like how there are Institutes in every major city from Mexico City to Shanghai, and has all types of cultures serving as Shadowhunters. But if you sit any think about it, the Shadowhunter world itself is built around Christian mythology, and the whole world isn’t that. Here we get to see how Chinese mythology slides right into it, and I really appreciated it. I don’t know enough about the myths to say whether they were well done, but it is at least a good starting point for readers who don’t know Chinese myths to go read more about them.

See this review on Goodreads.

See my review for book one of the Eldest Curses series, The Red Scrolls of Magic.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: A Love Story . . . with Wings by Mark Bittner

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

Like a lot of young people in the 1970s, Mark Bittner took the path of the “dharma bum.” When the counterculture faded, Mark held on, seeking shelter in the nooks and crannies of San Francisco’s fabled bohemian neighborhood, North Beach. While living on the eastern slope of Telegraph Hill, he made a magical discovery: a flock of wild parrots. In this unforgettable story, Bittner recounts how he became fascinated by the birds and patiently developed friendships with them that would last more than six years. When a documentary filmmaker comes along to capture the phenomenon on film, the story takes a surprising turn, and Bittner’s life truly takes flight.

My Review
4 out of 5 stars

I watched the documentary about Mark Bittner and the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill around 8 years ago, and as an owner of a pet cherry head conure at the time, became so endeared with it that I bought a copy of the book. Eight years later I finally decided to pick it up. I don’t remember the documentary that well, but the book is better able to document Mr. Bittner’s interactions with the parrots from day one. The movie relied on the film footage and the parrots alive at the time of the movie’s filming. I’m sure the movie recalled some of the flock’s former members, but the book allows for Mr. Bittner to go into more personal detail. It’s not at all a scientific account of the wild parrots, it is much more a memoir of Mark observing them and his efforts to get the birds to warm up to him. Mr. Bittner does mention his struggles with anthropomorphism, as he knows it is frowned upon within the scientific community. As a parrot owner myself, I can recognize how easily it is to anthropomorphize parrots as they are incredibly intelligent animals. He learns to tell parrots apart from one another and starts to name the members of the flock. As he observes and interacts with them as they feed from his balcony and hand, he notices differences in behavior and personality among the birds. He also takes note of the mating couples and the babies that result from them. He has some favorite birds that he becomes more attached to, whether it is because the bird is a little braver and more willing to interact with him, or that the bird’s personality and demeanor stands out.

As more of the flock get to know him, he ends up becoming more involved with the birds as he starts to take a few in to care for them when they become injured or ill. Overtime, the people in the area recognize that he knows the most about the birds, and even bring sick or injured birds to him. He has a lot documented about those birds for obvious reasons.

It also goes into a little detail of Mr. Bittner’s life as he is a homeless person living in San Francisco. How he manages to wallow through life is somewhat fascinating, as he was incredibly lucky that he was able to stay in the cottage on Telegraph Hill free of charge for as long as he did. He does self proclaim himself as a “dharma bum” and a hippie, so his life philosophy is much different than mine.

As someone who is relatively familiar with parrot behavior, there wasn’t much that was very surprising in his book. Pet parrots of today are only a couple generations removed from the wild at most, so many of the wild animal instincts are present in a domesticated parrot, unlike a dog who is a very domesticated animal. The difference is that a pet parrot was hand raised as a baby by a human, so parrots learn to see humans as members of their flock rather than other parrots. That’s not to say I did not learn anything at all, I certainly laughed at a few things.

The book is very simply written, so the subject matter is what is carrying the book and moving it along. If you don’t think you’d be interested in a very personal diary about observations and interactions with wild parrots, I don’t think this would be a book for you.

See this review on Goodreads.

November 2020 Wrap-Up: A Clear Your Sh*t Readathon Check-In

I don’t normally include monthly wrap-ups, but I do like to include readathon wrap-ups. Since the Clear Your Sh*t Readathon is two months long, I felt a halfway check-in was a good motivator to keep me going.

For more information on the Clear Ur Sh*t Readathon, check out my original TBR post, which includes links to the creators and quests for this readathon.

The readathon twitter has been posting 3 quests on a weekly basis. I haven’t been completing the quests in order (which you do not have to), so my quest board is all over the place. I have good news to report that I have stuck to most of my initial prompts, and properly used my blanks for my mood reading. I think this method works really well to help me clear my TBR!

Quests and books completed this month are below. I link out to either my review posted here on my blog or to my Goodreads rating.

Found Family: These Violent Delights by Chole Gong

With an Animal: The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark Bittner

Free Choice!: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Fantasy: Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

Book with Blue or Water Theme: The Muse by Jesse Burton (my edition has the blue cover). I DNF’d this at 45% of the way through. It just wasn’t for me.

Book with Map: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse This one had two maps! Do I get bonus points?

Shiny Cover/Magical Object: Iron Heart by Nina Varela This one had both a magical object and a shiny cover, so that’s also bonus points, right?

Mini-Battle: Due to my weakness (reads new books before any of the ones already owned), I had to read a book I purchased this year, preferably the oldest. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare is one of the oldest, bought on its release day. (I had multiple books purchased that day…)

It’s a total of eight books! I am proud of myself. I’m currently in the middle of two other quests, The Rhythm of War and Cemetery Boys, so I had a lot of reading done in November.

Thanks for stopping by! How did your November reading go? Did you participate in any readathons? Comment below!

Black Sun (Between the Earth and Sky, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.

My Review
5 out of 5 stars

This fantasy novel is incredibly different from any others that I have read previously. It is inspired by the Pre-Columbian Americas and the mythology and magic in this book are much different than traditional high fantasy in the market today. The history to the narrative is that there used to be four clans who each honored a separate god, which were the Carrion Crow, the Water Strider, the Golden Eagle, and the Winged Serpent. However, many moons ago, the clans were united by the Priesthood. The Priesthood overtime has evolved into something very disconnected from the people they serve.

It has three main characters:

  • Xiala, a Teek and Ship Captain who can sing songs to calm ocean waters
  • Serapio, a mysterious, blind young man who has devoted his life to the Crow God
  • Naranpa, a sun priest who questions the Priesthood’s methods

Xiala and Serapio are on a ship traveling to Tova to celebrate the winter solstice, which is the city Naranpa resides and she herself is preparing for the celebration. The winter solstice is occurring during a solar eclipse this year .

Each of the characters are well developed. They each have their own agendas and motives, so it is hard to tell if they are all good guys. The book is told with some chapters occurring years in the past so you learn the background of the characters and see who they are and how they came to be, which then will switch to the present time, with a countdown to the day of the solstice. You know things are going to go down on the solstice, and it builds excellent anticipation up to the day.

I recommend to basically all lovers of high fantasy, but especially to any readers who wish to read a high fantasy of a different flavor.

See this review on Goodreads. There is also a spoiler tag in the Goodreads review with a summary of this book in case you would like a refresher before the 2nd book comes out. 🙂

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) by Cassandra Clare

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

Chain of Gold, a Shadowhunters novel, is the first novel in a brand-new trilogy where evil hides in plain sight and love cuts deeper than any blade. .

Cordelia Carstairs is a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained since childhood to battle demons. When her father is accused of a terrible crime, she and her brother travel to London in hopes of preventing the family’s ruin. Cordelia’s mother wants to marry her off, but Cordelia is determined to be a hero rather than a bride. Soon Cordelia encounters childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and is drawn into their world of glittering ballrooms, secret assignations, and supernatural salons, where vampires and warlocks mingle with mermaids and magicians. All the while, she must hide her secret love for James, who is sworn to marry someone else.

But Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London. These monsters are nothing like those Shadowhunters have fought before—these demons walk in daylight, strike down the unwary with incurable poison, and seem impossible to kill. London is immediately quarantined. Trapped in the city, Cordelia and her friends discover that their own connection to a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.

My Review
4 out of 5 stars

After the ending of the Dark Artifices trilogy, I thought that I may have finally outgrown Mrs. Clare. I was not a huge fan of how that particular series ended, and the sequel to the Dark Artifices does not sound promising to me given the implications. This book is not the sequel to the Dark Artifices, though; this is the sequel series to the Infernal Devices trilogy. It just so happens that she is writing this one first. The Infernal Devices trilogy is still my favorite of all the Shadowhunter Chronicles, so in the end I just had to give this one a try. It follows the children of the main characters in the previous trilogy. They, of course, are all aged to the sweet spot of YA literature to 16-17. In Edwardian times, this includes the age of when you start looking for spouses. Oh the drama.

It starts off incredibly promising, as the second chapter involves a ballroom scene. Your girl here is very much a sucker for ballroom scenes, and boy, did it get me invested with the main romantic ship, James Herondale and Cordelia Carstairs. But the book moves on to include a lot more of its plot– that demons are randomly spawning in the daytime to attack, kill, and also infect Shadowhunters with some sort of disease. It’s up to the London Institute Shadowhunter to stop this. (How many of these books have I read over the years and I somehow never noticed that demons only spawn at night? Boy, I am dumb.) It then also introduces some drama to my main ship, as James Herondale has a huge childhood crush on another Shadowhunter. You sort of know how this works out, as there is a family tree of the Shadowhunter families (though maybe it is not as all accurate as it should be?!?), so the drama just seems unnecessary(!?!). I lose a good portion of my interest due to the demon plot; I think after reading so many of these books set in this world, I am over most of the demons. I am certainly over this teenage drama. But somehow, someway, by the second part of the book, Mrs. Clare has got me back invested in truly caring about the outcome of James and Cordelia’s relationship. I get attached to the main characters and I just want them to be happy! It is honestly so frustrating at this point of how much of a sucker I am for these books. I want to be done with them, but I just can’t! I sincerely hope that the actual plot of this series holds out over the course of the trilogy. I am going to be so disappointed if it ends in a similar disappointing fashion as the Dark Artifices, which also had a very promising start that suckered me into the characters. Ah well, here is to another 3 books of being Shadowhunter trash.

I also would like to give a shoutout to Matthew Fairchild, who may be my favorite character of them all. We just don’t know quite everything about him yet, but he has great potential. Anna Lightwood is also a bohemian bomb. I only was confused over the other Lightwoods, Christopher and Thomas, as I simply could not keep them straight. There were also a few smaller characters like Charles where I could not remember which family he was a part of, and whether that was important or not. Mrs. Clare is able to throw so many characters in because she has developed so much Shadowhunter history over the years. If you jump right into this without having read ANY of the others, I think you’ll have a hard time keeping track of who is who and why it matters. If you want to become Shadowhunter trash like I am, then you’ll have to start with the Mortal Instruments (City of Bones is book one). It’s definitely a lot, I know. You could kind of get away with just reading the Infernal Devices trilogy, but I do not recommend this route. It’s amazing how this series still has a growing fanbase despite the first series not aging well (and thus being dull to read), and the time commitment to reading all the books out to get to the new releases. Are there any new fans out there who can tell me how they got into this delightful mess?

See this review on Goodreads.