The final adventure in the Dark Artifices trilogy follows immediately on from the shocking events of the last book. While still dealing with their grief, Julian and Emma go on their most dangerous missions yet.
My heart could hardly handle experiencing the characters’ grief after the loss of both Livvy Blackthorn and Robert Lightwood. Livvy’s death was so devasting not just because losing someone so young is always a tragedy but the effect it had on the Blackthorns, especially Ty. Seeing one of my favourite characters completely shut down was almost sadder then Livvy’s death. Being someone who feels so profoundly yet differently to everyone else is hard for Ty, now he can barely connect with Kit or Julian. Watching how her death affected everyone differently, all painful, was interesting and a great display of the real-life effect of grief.
As with all Shadowhunter books, the emotional highs and lows are paired with a heavy dose of action. Julian and Emma are more desperate than ever to protect their family and will try anything, no matter how crazy. After the death of Robert Lightwood, Horace Dearborn is elected Inquisitor, much to the characters (and my) frustration. To deal with the rebellious Blackthorns, Horace sends Julian and Emma on a suicidal mission to Faerie. After a dangerous turn, the two escape through a portal and land in another world, Thule a post-apocalyptic version of our own where Johnathan won the Dark War. There they meet not just a version of themselves but Livvy, a few years older and the head of the resistance. Seeing Livvy, even a version of her, was painful for Julian and Emma (and me) and made the idea of living without her abundantly clear. It was also intriguing to see how the loss of certain characters during the Mortal Instruments events would have affected the war. Added to this is what happened to the Blackthorn children in this world who was even more heartbreaking than Livvy’s death.
Unable to cope with his sister’s death and his still deep love for Emma, Julian begs Magnus to put a spell on him that will dampen his love for Emma. Magnus warns that changing how you feel about one thing will affect how you feel about others. But the risk of the curse is too high, and the spell is cast. Immediately, he’s an entirely different person, aloof to everyone and cold even to Ty’s devastation. It was fascinating to watch how emotional spells can affect such a wide array of things. Emma is agony about the ‘loss’ of her Jules, and his siblings suffer as well, though they don’t know the reason why. When Julian and Emma are in Thule the absence of angelic magic breaks the spell, returning Julian to normal. Now able to feel again, Julian is horrified by the version of himself under the spell and is determined to break it when they return.
Though Julian’s use of a dampening spell gave the pair some time, the curse still eats away at them. I loved the reveal of the curse over this series, in the previous Shadowhunter books they state that parabatai can never be in love, but they never expand on why. In this trilogy, we’ve had the curse so built up that I was a little anxious if it could live up to it. It did more than live up it, it blew away my concerns. We get to see Emma begin to fall under the madness which was sad (especially on top of everything else). The climax where the full extent of the curse’s power was displayed was terrific, well worth the wait. No wonder there was a law against parabatai falling in love!
Love triangles, the bane of many young adult books, are so frustrating and dull to me. But the attraction between Keiran, Cristina and Mark was something else. I couldn’t decide who I wanted to get together! Luckily, I didn’t have to. The trio realises their feelings for each other are just as strong, impossible to choose between one and another. It was an incredible relief to have the who-will-they-choose angst over and be able to enjoy their relationships. Honestly, I have no idea how multi couples work, especially without any jealousy, but their relationship was a great demonstration on how it can work. In some ways, it appears to be easier than a standard couple. I loved this three, and it was lovely to watch them get to enjoy their love without guilt or shame.
It was awkward for the Blackthorns when Helen and Aline came to live with them again. They’d longed for it for years, but when she was actually there, they realised that they hardly know her anymore, especially the young ones. It was a shame that with everything else going on, they struggle to connect with their own sister, no matter how hard each side tries. It was nice to see the family bond throughout the book.
I enjoyed experiencing more of the secondary characters like Helen and Drew. Drew has always intrigued me, a new teen with usual problems plus the struggles of the Shadowhunter lifestyle. Her personality and interests are so different from her family that she struggles to feel connected to them, even Ty seems to be more understood than her. Being the second youngest, Drew isn’t taken very seriously, merely slotted as a child even though she is a teenager now. After the death of her sister, Drew is struggling more than ever to feel a part of her family, longing more than anything to have a relationship with Ty. She may feel overlooked, but she sees more than most, noticing how poorly Ty is coping when others don’t realise the extent. Thanks to Kit, she is finally allowed to tag along to Ty’s adventures, and it was lovely to see the two, plus Kit, actually bond.
Overall, I really loved this book, as I do with most Shadowhunter books, and enjoyed the end to the most recent trilogy. The climax was particularly exciting! Though I have found each book in this series could have used some more editing or been divided into two separate books (my interest tends to wane if the book is over 500 pages). I give it 5/5, and I am dying for the next Shadowhunter series.