Release Date: August 31, 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Margaret K. McElderry
In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.
The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them.... (courtesy of Goodreads.)
I began Clockwork Angel with some trepidation. Could Cassandra Clare pull off a new series set in the same world as The Mortal Instruments? Would The Infernal Devices just be The Mortal Instruments set one hundred years earlier or would the series distinguish itself? I'm pleased to say that I had no reason to be concerned. The Infernal Devices is an entirely separate plot from The Mortal Instruments with fully fledged characters. Clockwork Angel and The Infernal Devices series is as good, perhaps better, than The Mortal Instruments books.
Clockwork Angel features three main characters: Tessa, Will, and Jem. Actually, it's more accurate to say four main characters. Magnus Bane, the warlock I came to know and love in The Mortal Instruments, plays a more significant role in these books than he did in TMI (at least he stood out more to me).
Tessa is somewhat like a 19th century Clary. She's kind, extremely devoted to her family, clever, stubborn, and a good judge of character. The biggest difference between Tessa and Clary is cultural. Tessa grew up in a world with strict views of politeness (using Mr. and Miss instead of first names), propriety (servants v. gentlemen), and gender roles. Tessa lives within a small box of societal expectations. She steps out of it as the plot develops and as she becomes more comfortable in the Shadowhunter world, but she seemed less direct and more hesitant than Clary. I don't mean that as a criticism or compliment to Tessa or Clary, but merely a difference of worldviews and personality.
Clockwork Angel introduces us to two handsome, lovable leading men, Will and Jem. On the surface, these characters are as different as can be. Will is like a raging river. He'll take you to your highest highs and your lowest lows. He's capable of heart-stopping passion but also heart-wrenching barbs and cruel sarcasm. Jem is like a calm lake on a warm day. Comfortable, reliable, kind. He's the nice guy that a girl should want - although it's the bad boys like Will that tends to grab me.
The secondary characters are numerous and well developed. Magnus is definitely my favorite. He was introduced to us as a devil may care party thrower in City of Bones. I could never shake the image of him as being merely lighthearted and quick with a joke, even though we saw more sides of him in The Mortal Instruments. He is still funny and easygoing, but strikes me as far more passionate, serious, and knowledgeable in Clockwork Angel.
I was initially concerned that Jessamine was simply a copy of Isabelle but she distinguishes herself as having very different priorities and strength of character. Charlotte is the capable mother figure/Institute head and Henry is her absentminded inventor husband.. Charlotte's role as head of the London Institute and the drama that caused shows us that Shadowhunter's ideas of women's roles was both ahead of its time and trapped by its time.
Like all of Clare's books, Clockwork Angel has plenty of action. In one chapter, the characters are fighting warlocks. A few chapters later, it's a vampire battle. Then comes war with metal automatons. There is perhaps less action in this book than in The Mortal Instruments. Much time is spent introducing the characters and developing their relationship. That's not a bad thing. It's action in a different way. The plot steadily progresses.
If I have a criticism for Clockwork Angel, it would be confusion. I'm writing this review after having read all three books. Now the world and characters make a lot more sense. When I first read Clockwork Angel, I had trouble understanding characters' actions - especially Will's. The mystery unraveled over the trilogy, but sometimes it felt like plot elements or character development were just thrown in there without context. For example, the prologue featuring Will and Jem fighting a demon. Looking back, it establishes their closeness and the parabatai relationship that is just as important as the series' romance. At the time though I didn't know these characters and the scene had only a slight relationship to the plot.
Looking back on Clockwork Angel after reading the whole series, I think it's wonderful. It gives a good basis to the characters and starts the plot off right. When I first finished it, I was unsure. The Infernal Devices is an incredible series. Clockwork Angel is a good start, although it didn't draw me in as much as the second book did.
Rating: 4 / 5
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