A Very Spoilery Chat: Queen of Air and Darkness Review

  • Post last modified:October 11, 2022

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This post is specifically about Queen of Air and Darkness, and it is very spoilery (hence the title). If you by chance want an introduction post to the Shadowhunter world and an overview of all the books in the series, read my article on the Shadowhunter books here.

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare Summary

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare sitting open on a table with a hand and mug of coffee beside it.

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. Their society now teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find there is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of the Shadowhunters before a deadly curse destroys them and everyone they love.

So, I finally finished this beast a few days ago (and it was a beast, in more ways than just size), and Queen of Air and Darkness is just such a hyped book that its pointless to do a proper “review,” I think! And y’all, do I have a lot of thoughts — as I’m sure literally everyone else who has read it does.

I knew I was going to have a lot of thoughts and I wasn’t going to be able to keep track of them, so I started scrawling my thoughts in my journal, but that didn’t last long. I had thoughts way too often, and if I had kept that up, I would still be reading this. So, this post definitely doesn’t cover everything I thought along the way — far from it, and I’m probably going to suddenly remember a million upsetting/confusing/joyous things later on. But, here we go!

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare
Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare open to the Other Books page

Predictions I Had (Okay, One Prediction)

  • Clary needs to finally die.
    • Boom, I said it. I know that’s a bold way to jump into this post, but I want something to wrench my heart out. Something else.
    • Obviously, it didn’t happen. Clary does not die in Queen of Air and Darkness, y’all. It was a BLUFF (I see you, Cassandra). But maybe in the future. There are still six more books for Clare to pull the trigger. (Ha. Ha.)

Things I Loved About Queen of Air and Darkness

  • Political commentary and symbolism.
    • Okay, this one maybe should fall in between “Loved” and “Disliked” because sometimes it was a little too overt for my liking. But as always, and especially so in this trilogy, Clare addressed some issues that are incredibly important in today’s political climate, mirroring some events and people so closely that it is often eerily uncomfortable. That’s why this just has to go in the “Love” column — because regardless of how uppity I am about original plotting, I also believe in stories that make us better humans. And personally, I have loved seeing the Clave grow more and more corrupt as I have followed these books. I love a good shadowy organization! (No pun intended.)
  • Tessa is pregnant!
    • Yay! Also weird! I was always a fan of Jem over Will and love ignoring the fact that Will was her husband first, but it’s just so weird, man. Plus, this baby’s siblings are DEAD now???
  • Cristina! Mark! Kieran!
    • You know what’s up.
  • The Multiverse?
    • Getting very Dark Matter on us, Clare.

Things I Disliked About Queen of Air and Darkness

  • So. Long.
    • I love a good long immersive experience, but the critical side of me did think Queen of Air and Darkness was way too indulgent. This was a LONG book! Now, as a fan, I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy the detail Clare went into . . . which is why I’ll stick with “indulgent.” I suppose she’s earned the right at this point . . .
  • The epigraphs.
    • I don’t think I will ever be a fan of epigraphs and poems being used as inspiration for a book, and that’s a personal preference, I know. I just feel like it’s too easy! Specific to this trilogy, however, I am quite tired of Edgar Allen Poe at this point — I feel like it’s a cliche to begin with! (You can probably tell how I feel about a Charles Dickens quote being the backbone of The Last Hours.)
  • Julian being described as a father.
    • Still not okay with it. It makes me feel weird. Always has. (Sorry.)
  • The cast is just so dang large.
    • There are some characters that seem so superfluous or thrown in there for a single purpose yet still given an entire background that just ends up being extra and confusing. Like, sorry, but Divya and Rayan? (Full disclaimer: I haven’t read any of the companion books like Tales from Shadowhunter Academy, so if they are more fleshed-out there, my bad. But also, Queen of Air and Darkness is part of a different series that is supposedly stand-alone sooo . . . ) I feel as if Divya was just there to make sure readers didn’t feel sorry for Diego there at the end. Which leads me to . . .
  • Neat and tidy endings. (AKA, the Queen of Air and Darkness epilogue.)
    • Once upon a time, I think the younger me who first read the Mortal Instruments would have loved seeing what has happened to her favorite characters. (Okay, most of them. Sorry, Raphael. Cannot believe he was killed again, good lord.) In other words, it feels like the fan fiction we all want to be canon — and that’s why this aspect is going in the dislike column. It just doesn’t feel rewarding at this point. Alec and Magnus’s wedding? Beautiful! Did it need to be the end scene for a book (nay, trilogy) that was totally not about them? Nah. Blog it instead or something. I don’t know. Write another book about them. I want to be surprised.
    • The ending altogether was a bit unsatisfying for me. Like, I’m sorry? Julian and Emma go through this tortuous existence and make all kinds of life-changing decisions and then Jem is just like, “Oh, my bad, this whole parabatai thing was a RUMOR. You’re fine! Carry on!” I know I’m simplifying here. But so did Clare, so!

Leftovers (Varying in Importance and Completion)

  • At one point (page 17) someone says locking runes are more common than keys? That doesn’t sound secure considering all Shadowhunters can do them?
  • This needed a better copyeditor! I noticed so many tiny continuity errors along the way, and I’m a stickler for that stuff.
  • When characters notice something then “put it from their mind”. Lmao. Don’t do that.
  • The conversation on Diana and Jia on page 167.
  • “SEBASTIAN MORGENSTEWRNS BRAT” (Actual text in my notes app.)
  • Why didn’t Julian show alternate Livvy his Voyance rune when she questioned their identity? Seems easier than one showing through his ripped shirt. (She didn’t ask who his parabatai is, either.)
  • Why was Alec being in love with Jace in City of Bones okay?
    • Maybe this is one someone can explain to me, because I have wondered about it for this entire trilogy. I mean, I know Alec never acted on it and it was never a serious possibility, but it still seems like someone as loyal to Shadowhunter law as Alec was there at the end
A hardback copy of Queen of Air and Darkness sitting on a table edge, spine facing the camera.

A Few Favorite Quotes from Queen of Air and Darkness

“The tread of his feet was like music she had always known, so familiar it had almost stopped being music.” (19)

“Perhaps you outgrew your dreams, too, as your world expanded.” (98)

“None of us owe every piece of our soul’s history to another.” (101)

“We all stumble around in the dark and we cause each other pain and we try to make up for it best we can. We are all confused.” (288)

A Final Note

Remember when Clare told us the Mortal Instruments would end with City of Glass? Remember when she said “No, Sebastian is definitely dead and I’m not going to pull some resurrection B.S. He’s not coming back.” Uh huh. All I’m sayin’ is, going forward, I have both every expectation and no expectation. Make of that what you will.

A hardback copy of Queen of Air and Darkness, Book Three of the Dark Artifices sitting on a pillow in front of an open window.

In Conclusion

Overall, I still miss the old days. Don’t get me wrong, the Dark Artifices are fantastic, genius, praise-worthy books all on their own, but there’s really nothing like the original trilogy. (Yeah, I said “trilogy.”) I think maybe a reread is in order.

If you are equally stressed/confused/outraged/thrilled as me about this book, comment or DM me on Instagram! Let’s have a talk! Or a friendly argument! I’m ready to engage over this one, and as I said before, I’m positive there are a million other points I missed out on that will probably come to mind!

All the love,

Other Spoilery Chats

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Isaura

    Ok, have to stop and give my take regarding Alec’s crush on Jace as not equal with mutual eros enhancing the parabatai curse of Julian and Emma, just saying. Interesting review though, I’ll reread it later on.

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