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Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn are far too young to have suffered through so much. Emma’s parents were brutally murdered when she was just twelve years old, and while the Clave believes it was the work of Sebastian Morgenstern, Emma knows with every fiber of her being that the killer was someone else. Julian is also an orphan, after being forced to kill his own father to protect his brothers and sisters. Emma and Julian fought side by side during the Dark War, and in the years since, they have fought to keep their little family safe and happy. But now, every day brings new threats, new problems to solve, and new opportunities to right the wrongs of the past. When bodies begin showing up with the same markings that were found on Emma’s parents, she knows that she is closer than she’s ever been to finding their killer. Soon, the impossible happens—Mark Blackthorn is temporarily released from the Wild Hunt to help with the investigation, with the promise that he can choose to stay in LA if he is successful. Negotiating with the faeries breaks the Cold Peace, so the hunt for a killer must be kept from the Clave. It’s just another secret, though, for Julian and Emma, who are desperately trying to hide the fact that they have fallen in love with each other, which is strictly forbidden for parabatai. With so much to lose, they throw themselves into the investigation, which leads right to their own front door. Before they know it, they have uncovered a plot to raise the dead . . . a plot that requires the spilling of Blackthorn blood.
1. Why does Emma push herself so hard during training? When did this recklessness start? Doesn’t she care about her safety? How does her attitude toward danger and pain affect those around her?
2. What does the Blackthorn motto, “A bad law is no law” mean? How does it compare to the Clave’s motto, “The law is hard, but it is the law?” Why are Emma and Julian so concerned with the laws of the Clave right now? Do you think the Shadowhunter laws are too harsh, or that they should be followed?
3. How has Mark been changed by his time with the faeries? How does this affect his behavior as he returns home? Can he be what the Blackthorns need him to be? Does he want to?
4. Why does the line of poetry that Arthur once recited, “Water washes, and tall ships founder, and deep death waits,” resonate with Emma? Is there anything that she likes about the sea?
5. When Mark finally accepts that he is home, and that it’s not just a faerie illusion, Julian “adjusted his heart to bear the new burden.” In what way is Mark a burden to Julian? Does Mark continue to be a burden as the story progresses? How does this compare to how Julian feels about the rest of his family? Do you think Julian will be able to keep holding his family together?
6. What is the significance of the chapter titles? Why do you think the author chose them? What clues do they give us to the story?
7. Why don’t the Blackthorns ever talk about the difference between Ty and the rest of the siblings? Why doesn’t Julian tell anyone about Arthur’s illness? How are such differences handled in the Shadowhunter world? How is that different than how our society deals with that sort of issue?
8. Do Emma and the Blackthorns have any adults on whom they can rely? How does this affect the way they deal with their problems? How do you think their lives would be different if there was a reliable adult presence? Did Jace and Clary have more adults to whom they could turn for help when they were fighting Valentine and Sebastian in the Mortal Instruments series?
9. Discuss the relationship between Mark and Kieran. What does each boy provide to the other? Do you think their membership in the Wild Hunt affected their relationship? Why can’t Mark forgive Kieran? Are any other characters dealing with this sort of betrayal?
10. When Emma flips through Ava’s wallet, she feels guilty about having taken a small amount of cash, but not about having taken evidence from a crime scene. Why do you think this is? What do you think would have happened if she’d left the crime for the mundane police to solve? Is there any point in the story where you think it would have been wise for her to turn the investigation over to the Clave?
11. Cristina worries about Emma’s feelings toward Julian because she says “There is a difference between having your heart break and having your soul shatter.” What do you think this difference is? Which happened to Cristina? Is Emma strong enough to have her soul shatter?
12. The Blackthorn children blame the Clave for taking Mark and Helen away from them, but are they the only ones responsible? Do the faeries share any of the blame?
13. After Emma is whipped by Iarlath, she says, “I think everyone is strong and weak in different ways,” and Mark says that he always thought of her as being delicate. What parts of Emma are strong enough to bear the faeries’ punishment? How does this differ from the strong and weak parts of Julian? Of Mark?
14. What does Emma hope to achieve by finding her parents’ killer? How does her version of revenge differ from Malcolm’s?
15. Why does it take Malcolm so long to attempt the resurrection of Annabel? Would there have been an easier way than going to the faeries to get the information he needed? What sources do the Blackthorn children use to figure out Malcolm’s plan?
16. Is Diana helpful in her role as the Blackthorn tutor? What prevents her from taking a more active role in their lives, and in the investigation? Why doesn’t Julian take her up on her offer to accept responsibility for the dark magic?
17. Why did Cristina leave Mexico and come to LA? Is “Perfect Diego” really perfect? How does his history with Cristina help—or hinder—the investigation?
18. Why does Emma decide to hurt Julian and end his love for her? Do you think she is making the right decision? How do you think Julian would like her to handle the situation?
1. Los Angeles is almost like another character in Lady Midnight. There are other teen books where LA plays a prominent role, such as Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, or Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci. Read one of these books and compare the LA that is presented in it to the LA that Clare portrays. After reading these books, make a list of the places in Los Angeles that you’d like to visit.
2. Cristina speaks Spanish, but nobody else at the LA Institute is very proficient in the language. Learn some Spanish phrases—particularly ones that would be helpful to a Shadowhunter.
3. The Blackthorn children are named for important figures in ancient Roman history, including emperors. Research the famous leaders who inspired the siblings’ names, and write a short essay about whether the historical figures share any personality traits with their namesakes.
4. Julian has to learn to cook simple dishes so that he can take care of his family. What do you know how to cook? Teach yourself to make a new dish, and then make it for your family.
5. Mark mentions that every faerie poem serves as a set of instructions for something, and that is certainly true in the case of the poem that Malcolm writes on the murder victims. Choose an activity that you are well versed in, and write a short poem that tells someone how to do it. Like a faerie, make your instructions as tricky as you would like!
6. Read Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” and draw a series of illustrations casting Annabel Blackthorn and Malcolm in the main roles.
7. Kieran and Mark are drawn together because each of them is bullied by the other members of the Wild Hunt. Help someone who is being bullied—stand up for them, work on anti-bullying initiatives at your school, etc.
Guide written by Cory Grimminck, Director of the Portland District Library in Michigan.
This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Cassandra Clare is the author of the #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Lady Midnight, as well as the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices trilogy. She is the coauthor of The Bane Chronicles with Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy with Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman, as well as The Shadowhunter’s Codex, which she cowrote with her husband, Joshua Lewis. Her books have more than 50 million copies in print worldwide and have been translated into more than thirty-five languages, a feature film, and a TV show, Shadowhunters, currently airing on Freeform. Cassandra lives in western Massachusetts. Visit her at CassandraClare.com. Learn more about the world of the Shadowhunters at Shadowhunters.com.