Ok, so I have to be honest, I actually finished this last week. I haven’t written a review because I was so sucked into the Shadowhunter World that I wasn’t ready to come up for air until I finished all three books. Yes, I found them that good! The Infernal Devices series is definitely going on the ‘Favorites Shelf’ on my Goodreads page and will be purchased for future rereading purposes (the copies I had were all borrowed from a friend and I don’t think she’d let me keep them.). 😉 For those that have lived under a rock the past few years like me, here’s the description from Cassandra Clare’s page:
Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
I want to start by saying that this is the first novel I’ve read by Cassandra Clare. I know most start with her Mortal Instruments series but I figured I go the chronological route. I’m not sure if this will affect anything but we’ll see. So with that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff!
I didn’t know what to expect going in but I’ve heard the hype for years. As soon as I talked to people and mentioned my favorite genre of books (YA, Paranormal, Nephilim, Fallen Angels, Romance), they immediately told me about Cassandra Clare. After much procrastinating, I agreed to borrow a copy from a friend. Unfortunately the beginning didn’t grab my attention as I would’ve hoped. It opens with Tessa traveling to London from New York on her brother’s behest and she’s quickly kidnapped from the docks once she arrives. Tessa remains trapped with the Dark Sisters for months while they push her and test her, trying to get her to realize her power and learn to use it.
In my opinion, it drug on for too much of the beginning. While I’m not a quitter and usually force myself to finish any book I start, this slowness is not something that bodes well for me normally. I think I was about a third of the way through when it finally snagged me. I can only blame that rough start on Tessa and her situation. Something about that whole portion grated on my nerves. It wasn’t Tessa’s personality specifically; I just couldn’t bring myself to care about her predicament. Sure, she’s unique (we don’t know what she is – Downworlder or no) and somehow the key to whatever the Magister was planning (again, not many clues given except that it has to do with her shape shifting abilities) but beyond that, I felt no need to really discover her truth. I couldn’t feel bad over all that the Black Sisters were putting her through. I understood that we needed some backstory, a frame of reference to explain how Tessa came to London and by extension, The Institute, but still I found myself caring more about the other characters.
Which brings me to the boys – William “Will” Herondale and James “Jem” Carstairs. Two sides of the same coin, different yet complimentary. My heart was captured by Will almost immediately. Jem, I enjoyed and loved too, but he didn’t make me smile like Will. Yes, Will is a Class-A jerk to basically everybody but those moments of kindness pointed to a very different person underneath. He’s smart, daring, and a bit of a flirt. His past is also as much a mystery as why the Magister wants Tessa so bad. I found myself wanting to learn more about Will than Tessa because he was just such a well written character. Jem, Will’s Parabatai (a mystically bonded partner), is quite nearly the polar opposite. Jem is sweet, quiet, steady, and sensitive. He uses music instead of words like Will to express himself. Always the one that pulls Will back from his self destructive ways and blunts some of his sharp tongued retorts, Jem is integral part of their duo. In return, Will pushes his Jem to live each day to the fullest and watches out for him when his affliction becomes too much. They love each other as brothers and are a pretty kick-ass team; working in an effortless concert of movements that each backs the other up in battle.
I’d have to say that even the supporting cast (Charlotte, Sophie, Henry, and the others) were well written and likable. I just didn’t care for Tessa in the beginning. She grew on me towards the last couple chapters so that helped sway my opinion overall. She was taking some control of her circumstances, becoming more comfortable with her abilities, and learning to stand up for herself. A girl would almost have to when she’s participating in espionage to gain intel on the enemy! Tessa also found her voice which was highly amusing when pitted against Will’s caustic sarcasm. As this is the first in a three book series, it does more laying of groundwork than actually answering questions though. For example, in the end, Tessa still does not know her true parentage or why she has the powers that she does nor do we have a notion of the Magister’s ultimate goal (but we do discover his real identity). Clockwork Angel finishes as all great series books finish, with just enough wrapped up to satisfy but still that overarching theme left in question.
All in all, I gave Clockwork Angel 4 Stars on my Goodreads page. It totally would’ve been 5 had that first portion not annoyed me so.
Next Up: My review for Clockwork Prince!
What did you think? Have you read this book or any of the others in the Shadowhunter Universe?