Book Review: Clockwork Angel

Title/Author:  Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
(Infernal Devices #1)

Genre:  Young Adult, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal

Published:  January 1st, 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Hardcover, 496 pages

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?:  I really enjoyed The Mortal Instruments and I wanted to check out the prequel series, mostly because I heard it had a lot more of Magnus, who is my favorite character!

Book Jacket Blurb:  “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 gas-lit 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.”

My Review of the Work:

London, April 1878.  A Victorian world where demons were already running amuck, where there were already dark underplots to try and control the world.  Victorian England, where two Shadowhunter boys strike us with similarities of another world we know–William Herondale and James “Jem” Carstairs.  A group of people causing trouble in the downworld–The Pandemonium Club.  And a “normal” girl that gets thrown into an unfamiliar world, never guessing she could ever fit in–Tessa Gray.

This probably sounds similar to The Mortal Instruments series.  Well, it is supposed to, as it is the prequel series to our wonderful Jace and Clary and Simon party.  That is honestly why I loved this series so much!  From the beginning of Clockwork Angel, you are introduced to a world you are already familiar with in a completely different light.  And as you read The Infernal Devices you will pick up on the little connections between the two (and likewise, when reading the 2nd Mortal Instruments trilogy, you will pick up on the connections back to this series!).  Cassandra Clare showcases her thoughtfulness and attention to detail through these connections, and I find them to both elevate the level of writing and enhance my reading experience with both series.

Anyway, on to my review of Clockwork Angel.

As the book jacket blurb suggests, Tessa is not your normal teenage girl.  She has a secret, even unto herself, that makes her the most unique individual known to the Shadowhunter world–she can change into someone else at will.  What she knew of her life is all a lie.  Tessa is a Warlock of some kind, but she and the Silent Brothers have no idea how or why.  And because of her unique ability, Tessa finds herself at the center of a plot to change and control the world, centering around the elusive Pandemonium Club, who has taken her brother hostage.  Now, with the help of the Shadowhunters and a familiar Magnus Bane, Tessa sets out to find her brother and help stop the man known only as The Magister.

I found the characters in this series to be just a loveable as those in The Mortal Instruments.  First off, Jem and Will, though completely opposite men, are both equally as loveable.  Where Will is outspoken and defiant but secretly cares too much, Jem is reserved and calm and focused.  And then there is Charlotte, the young motherly figure who has taken it upon herself to protect everyone around her.  She is a respectable female figure in this novel, unlike the vicious Jessamine, who does not want to be a Shadowhunter.  On the one hand, I found Jessie to be rude and inexcusable; on the other, I felt sorry for her to be stuck in a world she only wanted to leave.  Her character really works in this historical fantasy setting, though, especially during a time where becoming a Lady in society is so very important.  Henry and Sophie are two of the supporting characters that are so endearing and loveable.  Henry, in all his quirkiness, becomes that character that you want to defend.  And Sophie, the maidservant, adds something so extraordinary to each and every character in this novel.

But the reason for picking this novel up in the first place was Magnus Bane.  He is my favorite character from The Mortal Instruments, so I was anxious to find out more about him!  And I was excited to discover that he plays a large role in this series, too!  To learn more about his past in this series was something that I really enjoyed.  We get little bits and pieces of his back story throughout TMI, but to “witness” it firsthand in this series is something that I really appreciated and enjoyed.  It was nice to see how (and why) he developed into the character he is in TMI, and Clockwork Angel gives you a pretty solid idea of why Magnus is the way he is.

What I really appreciated about this novel was the influence of literature and music on all of our main characters.  As this novel is set in Victorian London, as opposed to modern day, there is an appropriate influence of these forgotten leisures that I absolutely adored.  Tessa is a character who is all about literature–she freaks out when she has to leave her books behind in the Dark Sisters’ house, and she is ecstatic when she finds herself in the Institute’s library surrounded by hundreds of thousands of books!  And then there is Will, who secretly adores literature, and Jem, who plays the violin beautifully.  I just really appreciated Clare’s attribution to the fine arts in her novel.  I suppose that has something to do with the historical setting, but I still loved that aspect of this novel.

“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
“Only the weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.”
–page 87

Here is my one warning with this series:  Unlike in The Mortal Instruments, where the “Team Jace/Team Simon” debate is slightly immensely skewed in Jace’s favor, the “Team Will/Team Jem” debate in this series is a lot closer!  For the first time in a long time, I found myself struggling to pick one!  So be warned…you will like both of these fine men for Tessa!  And it’s hard to choose!

The excitement of this series begins from the very first page of the prologue and continues to form such a compelling and enduring story that you will enjoy from beginning to end.  A familiar story in a different time and place, Clockwork Angel is a unique fantasy/paranormal story, one that I think you will enjoy (and maybe even more than TMI)!  It is a solid beginning to The Infernal Devices series and novel that I can not really speak negatively about.  I just really loved it!

A Suggestion of Reading to Readers:

If you have not yet read any Cassandra Clare, or if you have only read the original Mortal Instruments trilogy, then I implore you to consider reading them in one of the following ways:

By date of original publicationCity of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, Clockwork Angel, City of Fallen Angels, Clockwork Prince, City of Lost Souls.

Or, if you do not want to jump between the two series, then read them in what I would call the way I wished I would have read them orderCity of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls.

These are the two ways to read the Clare books that are currently published where you will pick up on the most connections between the two.  I read City of Fallen Angels before Clockwork Angel, and after finishing Clockwork Angel I had to pick up CoFA again to skim over because I realized just how many connections I missed by not reading Clockwork Angel first.

So that is my suggestion to you readers who have not read any Cassie Clare and want to get the most out of your reading experience.  But that’s just my opinion 😉

Memorable Moments:

Books are for reading, not for turning oneself into livestock.
–page 88

She looked up at him with a smile.  The smile broke what was left of his resisitance–shattered it.
–page 450
My Bookshelf Rating:


A Fourth Shelf Book!

Wow!  I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy this series as much as I did, but wow Will gives Jace a run for his money!  Not gonna lie, I really love Tessa!  I think Clare really captures a great heroine for the Victorian England fantastical setting.  This book is packed with more Shadowhunting adventures of a different lifetime, making it a compelling read.  Warning:  have Clockwork Prince handy, because you will want to just dive right in!

Love and Old Books,
Jennifer

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Clockwork Angel

  1. Kelsey @ Slush Sleuth says:

    I completely agree with "the way I wish I read them" though I read them in publication order, as you did.Sad the pub sate for Clockwork Princess got pushed back… SIGH. I think it's kind of Clare blasphemy to say this, but I actually like the ID series better than MI, though I love them both… Thanks for the review!

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