A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cassandra Clare's Lord of Shadows is the second book in the Dark Artifices series and part of a much larger Shadowhunters franchise. It includes six books in the Mortal Instruments series that take place a few years before this series starts, three books in the Infernal Devices series that take place in the Victorian era, a movie (City of Bones), and a TV show (Shadowhunters). So most teen readers will already know quite a bit about this fantasy world full of Shadowhunters -- those with some angel blood who fight demons and sometimes faeries, warlocks, werewolves, and vampires. It helps to read the Mortal Instruments series before starting the Dark Artifices, but it isn't completely necessary. This series has always been for mature teen readers, because of both the level of violence and the sexual content. While Lord of Shadows isn't as gory as the first book, Lady Midnight, it still has its moments. Two shocking deaths by sword near the end will upset fans. There's much talk of gushing blood in general: A sword comes free in a "gout of blood" after a faerie is killed, a throat is slit in a voluntary sacrifice, a wrist is sheared off and thumps to ground still holding a sword, and a faerie is beheaded, with talk of another severed head put in a bag. Other mature content includes sex between older teens (which is barely described) and much passionate kissing among straight and LGBTQ couples. Older teens and adults drink wine. Author Clare is known for her diverse characters and adds more to this series. Ty is on the autism spectrum, and another character is transgender; both are treated with respect and understanding by those closest to them.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In LORD OF SHADOWS, Shadowhunters at the LA Institute -- the Blackthorn family, Emma Carstairs and her friend Cristina -- thought they would finally have some peace with the murderous warlock Malcolm Fade gone, but unwanted visitors just keep coming. First it's massive, tentacled ocean demons invading the Santa Monica Pier, snatching tourists. Next it's dozens of Centurions, secretive and bigoted Shadowhunter soldiers there to investigate Fade's death. And then it's Gwyn, a faerie from the Wild Hunt who implores Mark Blackthorn to come rescue his old boyfriend from the land of faerie. The Unseelie faerie king is about to kill him. As Mark, his brother Julian, Emma, and Cristina sneak to the land of faerie on a rescue mission, things go very wrong at home. Under the Centurions' watch, Malcolm Fade emerges from the sea, zombie-like, demanding Blackthorn blood to raise his love, Annabel, from the dead.
Is it any good?
As always, fans will eat up this extra-large helping of this Shadowhunter saga with parts lovelorn melodrama, demon and undead fighting, and political turmoil. It's a curious combo that usually works well enough for author Cassandra Clare, but Lord of Shadows seems to have more passionate kissing and more anguished couples than usual. There's Emma and Julian, of course, but also Mark and Kieran, Mark and Cristina, and Cristina and Diego. Adding to the anguish is lots of unnecessary lying that only seems to serve to keep the melodrama high. Why wouldn't Emma tell Jules that they'd be cursed if they were together? Her reasoning doesn't seem solid.
But in between forbidden lip locks, a lot goes down. A trip to the land of faerie sets up so many fascinating complications: promises that will be nearly impossible to keep, a deranged undead ancestor the Blackthorns are now desperate to find -- and under that, the whole current of political upheaval among the Shadowhunters. Who will win out? In one corner: the scheming ban-and-register-all-Downworlders crowd. In another: those like the Blackthorns who have part-faerie siblings and a warlock as their best ally. If you take out the fantasy element, does any of this sound familiar?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the transgender character in Lord of Shadows. What did you learn about her struggles? How often have you seen transgender characters represented in books you read?
How does this book address themes of intolerance and prejudice? Do they remind you of any current events?
Will you read the next Dark Artifices book? What do you think will happen to the Blackthorns? To Julian and Emma?
- Author: Cassandra Clare
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: McElderry Books
- Publication date: May 23, 2017
- Number of pages: 720
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fantasy
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.