“When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray arrives in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gas lit streets. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters, a band of warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. Drawn even deeper into their world, she finds herself fascinated – and torn between- two best friends and quickly realizes that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.”
Clockwork Angel is the first novel in the Infernal Devices series and is the prequel to the highly successful Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare. Over the past few weeks I’ve been hearing reviews mostly to the tune of “ZOMG, SO GOOD”, in regards to this book. So, not that I needed much encouragement, having already been a die-hard fan of The Mortal Instruments, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
The story is set in Victorian London and centers on Tessa Gray who has just arrived from New York to join her brother Nate after the death of their Aunt. Tessa barely sets foot on English soil before she’s kidnapped by The Dark Sisters – a wicked pair of warlocks who have hidden Nate and taken him hostage. In return for her brother’s safety Tessa is tortured into uncovering a shape shifting ability she never knew she had.
The Magister knew of it though. He is the leader of the Pandemonium Club, a mysterious club where humans and Downworlders (vampires, warlocks, faeries, werewolves) mix and he wants control of Tessa’s unique ability.
While uncovering murders linked to the club, Tessa is discovered and rescued by the Shadowhunters – Nephilim who are the children of Angels and humans who have sworn to protect humans from demons. Taking refuge at the London Institute Tessa enlists the help of the Shadowhunters to find her brother while she helps them uncover the dark plan to wipe out their kind…
When Clockwork Angel arrived in the mail I did a bit of a dance, I was that excited. I was Shadowhunter starved! A year had passed since her last book release and I was missing the sarcasm that Cassandra Clare does so well, and she definitely delivered. It took a bit of time in the beginning to adjust to the new time period and things took a bit of time to get going because a whole lot of groundwork needed to be laid before the story was able to gain some speed.
There’s no shortage of action in this book and can be quite creepy at times thanks to the evil clockwork minions of the Magister, made from the bodies of the dead. That, plus London’s notoriously bleak weather give the book quite a dark quality.
For me, Cassandra Clare’s standout talent as a writer is her ability to create such loveable, dynamic characters. The new characters we meet in this story are no exception. We see a few familiar last names – Herondale, Lightwood, Wayland, all being the ancestors of the characters were knew and loved from The Mortal Instruments (including Magnus Bane!) We’re also presented with a bunch of new characters as well.
It probably wasn’t until Magnus showed up though that I realized just how much I had missed the Shdowhunter world. He was his charming self as always and even though in this book his appearance was briefer than I’d have preferred, he was still great. Plus, it’s Magnus that leaves us with a great cliffhanger right at the end.
Our main character, Tessa, definitely has spunk. She’s a lady with all the politeness and proper manners that go hand –in-hand with the time period, but when it comes down to it she puts up a hell of a fight and has a comeback for any snarky comment Will throws her way.
Speaking of Will; this guy is badass. His only downfall is that he’s also an a-hole. With his dark hair and blue eyes he’s beautifully sexy and has the kind of wit and classic one-liners that we’ve come to love from Jace in TMI. As Jace’s ancestor it’s clear that’s one of the character traits he’s passed down. Like most characters in this book, Will has a dark and mysterious past, which is apparently the reason he’s a jerk to most people and keeps them at arm’s length. Everyone except his best friend and parabatai, Jem.
Jem though, has dark secrets of his own, secrets which are destroying him from the inside out. He’s the only one who’s been able to get close to Will and balances out Will’s snark with his calm, soothing demeanor. With his silver hair and musical skills Jem’s a charmer simply by being a gentleman. He catches your attention with his subtleties.
The blurb hypes the three of them to be caught in a fierce love triangle but it’s not really the case – at least not in this book. It seems clear which of the two boys Tessa prefers (but if she was smart she wouldn’t…) but we’ll see how that’ll unfold in the next books.
There’s no denying there’s a well thought out plot here. Though it seems the plot moves Tessa rather than her driving the plot, it still twists, turns and weaves brilliantly, especially at the end – right when you think you know where everyone stands, it gets turned on its head which was really great. It was also great to see Shadowhunters from the perspective of a Downworlder, at times it made them appear very elitist and superior.
We also get to see the role of women during the period from different angles from each of the ladies we meet in the book. From Jessamine who wants a more traditional life, to Charlotte who is bending the rules and pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable for a lady to do (and without a corset too!)
By the end there are still so many questions left hanging you double check the last page to see if there’s even a sentence or two more to answer at least one, but no such luck.
This is a stunning novel and it’s going to be an agonizing wait for the next book but I know it’ll be worth it. It’s a fresh take on a period piece so expect action, many lines of great, quotable dialogue, a bit of romance and plenty of Shadowhunter mystery. A huuuuuuge thumbs up!
Publication Date: August 31st 2010
Teaser Quote: “That was enterprising,” Will sounded nearly impressed.
Nate smiled. Tessa shot him a furious look. “Don’t look pleased with yourself. When Will says ‘enterprising’ he means ‘morally deficient.'”
“No, I mean enterprising,” said Will. “When I mean morally deficient, I say, ‘Now, that’s something I would have done.”