In a kingdom by the sea…Moment of truth- I had this book preordered back in March, ripped off the box and tweeted in excitement like everyone else. However, reality being reality I had to focus on exams at the time and only got to crack open this 668 tome of beauty in July before I left for to work in summer camp. In that case, why am I writing this review now in December? Alas, shame.
In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.
A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.
Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.
Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?
To make up for this shame I actually reread it in the last few weeks so I could write my review with the book fresh in my memory. So with my notes from the summer and my thought from read #2, let's begin.
Ah, Emma and Julian. I remember how before reading City of Heavenly Fire (link to my review) I was debating reading on the Shadowhunter books but after the introduction of Emma and the Blackthornes I knew I was on the train already and would not get off. Julian is a truly exceptional character - choices like the kind he has to make are only usually found in Holocaust books. He got a lot of flack for being ruthless but I could never see him as anything but heroic, doing what needed to be done to save his family's lives. I wanted him to be with Emma because I wanted so badly for him to find solace with someone, for once have someone take care of him sometimes and take the burden off his shoulders a little bit.
And Emma. At first I loved her, but at second reading I find myself a little more critical of her. I wondered why she hadn't taken a more active role with raising the children, and was a little shocked at her treatment of Cameron Ashdown. I admired her talent and determination to hone it, and also how she never gave up- not in her belief that her parents' death was something else, despite what the Clave told her, not in saving Julian's life even when the iratzes weren't working, not in chasing Sterling or training herself. I think that she'll become ever more complex and fascinating in Lord of Shadows now that her parents' murder has been solved, and she has (temporarily if we know Cassie Clare😏 ) the presence of mind to do and be other things.
As for the kids- I loved how in the center of a mainstream book was a family with a lot of kids, and I really related to that. However, unlike the Weasleys for example, I found that the author lacked the ability to give each of the kids depth and complexity. It was almost as if she made the mistake real people make about real big families- see them as a pile of loud little people instead of each one being a world unto themselves. Each kid was given their thing - Ty his autism, Dru with weight issues, Tavvy being little and Livvy protective of Ty - and nothing more. Dreams for the future, awareness of their situation, rebelliousness, friends or crushes... I especially felt that we got little of Dru. Weight issues and liking of emo things is really all we know of her. I'm really hoping for more in the next book. Ty and Livvy are the same age as Jace and Clary in City of Bones!
Other things I found relatable were the driving through LA (suddenly you find yourself wondering just how the characters of TMI got around in NY), ordering pizza, and overall more description on the people's day-to-day lives. Sometimes I find that missing in YA fantasy so it was beautiful and refreshing to read it here.
Notable comments, especially spoilery:
Whipping scene was super intense and at the same time kinda pointless. If you gave away Gwyn's secret weakness, wouldn't the punishment be death? How is it helpful to whip people? And if you're already insisting on temporary punishment, why allow someone to take their place? And hello it's probably more sensible to let Mark take the whip anyway, he heals faster than you all.
So many almost kissing!!
OMG KIT LOST HERONDALE WTF DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING
Annabel Lee theme - brilliantly done and so gorgeous.
AHAHA FLYING MOTORCYCLE
Perfect Diego jokes got me. every. time.
Jem and Tessa- whyyyy don't you realize Jemma are in love and help them
BIRTH CONTROL RUNE AHAHAHA GENIUS CAN'T BELIEVE CLARY GREW UP TO DO THAT
Diana who are you?!?!
Did anybody else totally not predict Malcolm's betrayal?
ending NO OMG WHY EMMA THAT IS THE WORST IDEA EVER
Lots of well-placed childhood flashbacks
How did Julian not break and tell Helen things?? She could have been a lot of help even from afar.
Blackthorn motto be like we are too cool for you Clave