Lord of Shadows: The Dark Artifices, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Lord of Shadows: The Dark Artifices, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Faeries, demons, kissing, with thoughtful look at prejudice.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Characters spend some time in LA, London, and Cornwall with some talk of the Santa Monica Pier, London Bridge, and the ravens at the Tower of London, among other place details. Careful investigative research using diaries, libraries, and even Wikipedia leads teens to tracking down someone they are desperate to find. The book starts with the poem "Dream-Land" by Edgar Allan Poe.

Positive Messages

As in the first book, loyalty and love of family and friends are key here. And as an extension of that, standing up for and protecting those who face discrimination, either because of having mixed blood (faerie and human), of being LGBTQ, or for not being neurotypical (being on the autism spectrum). Also, unjust laws are questioned and not followed often. The Clave's philosophy: The law is hard, but it is the law. The Blackthorn family philosophy: A bad law is no law.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Julian continues to be the rock of his family, but he's often sidetracked by love. Emma is selflessly brave and the strongest warrior in the story. A transgender character emerges, explaining her struggles to be herself. Readers may realize that Tiberius (Ty), Julian's younger brother, is autistic in the first book, with his friend Kit supplying the label in this book. He's fully drawn as an individual with sensitivities as well as strengths. Kit is the kind of friend and ally people with differences need: He defends Ty and the way he moves through the world and tries to find ways to make challenges more manageable for him.


Two shocking deaths near the end, killed by swords. 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 the ground still holding a sword, a faerie is beheaded, talk of another severed head put in a bag. Shadowhunter injuries -- and there are many -- are usually healed with marks (ruins) etched on the skin, but the poisoning and bleeding of one teen and a painful, bleeding binding spell need more time and the help of a warlock to heal. A flashback to the torture of a girl and talk of the eventual killing of her by her own family because of their prejudice. Much talk of the violent deaths of other close family members -- parents and a sister -- and the loss characters feel. Mention that a faerie king would kill any daughters he had because he found them useless.


Characters in their late teens have sex; heavy kissing and groping described with barely a mention that clothing is removed, and no description after that. Much more passionate kissing, straight and LGBTQ. Joke about a threesome, and a character has an erection.


Infrequently, "bitch," "ass," "asshole," "hell," "goddamned."


A character adores Sherlock Holmes, and quick mentions of Wikipedia and X-Men.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Older teens and adults drink wine.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15-year-old Written byPrincess Consuela B. July 29, 2019

Series gets better each book

LoS, the second book in TDA series, is sublime. It handles some heavier topics like being transgender, and having autism, but it handles them in a positive way,... Continue reading
Adult Written byLia C. December 19, 2017

The Shadowhunter Chronicles gets better with each book!

This book broke my heart repeatedly but I adored it! LoS adds more to Clare's brilliantly crafted and ever expanding world by including political tension a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byClaryFray July 13, 2017

A true masterpiece

This book was absolutely AMAZING! This book made me laugh and cry, and is a great sequel to Lady Midnight! Definitely one of Clare's best works, and fans o... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byThalia Grace May 3, 2021

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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