Title: Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Goodreads Synopsis: 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…
I have been putting off reading the Mortal Instruments and the Infernal Devices series since I started hearing about them in middle school. All of my friends had read them and loved them, but I just wasn’t interested. (I also have never read A Series of Unfortunate Events… please dispose of all pitchforks and torches at the door.) After spending way too much time on BookTube and hearing over and over and over again how these are everyone’s favorite books, I finally decided to see what the hype was about. Unfortunately, the books were really expensive on Kindle and I ended up putting them on my “wishlist” for months. A few weeks ago, I checked the prices and Clockwork Angel had gone down to $1.99. And so my watch began.
I sincerely apologize to the Shadowhunter fandom for blowing off this series for so long because this book was AMAZING. I was so impressed with the storytelling, but the background left a little to be desired. I learned that Cassandra Clare actually spent some time in England before writing this book, and even studied maps of London from the 1870’s. Some liberties are taken with the characters being Shadowhunters and operating in a version of London dominated by downworlders as well as humans, but I thought that they were believable as being product of the late 1800’s. However, I could have found a lot of the stuff she parroted in the story by spending 5 minutes on Wikipedia. It really didn’t feel like she put a ton of effort into researching the time period, and I felt that the story suffered as a result.
That plot twist at the end though… I usually know when a plot twist is coming before it even happens. I’m that annoying girl at the movies who points out the character that no one suspects and pegs him/her for the evil mastermind. Not this book. I was so thrown off by the big Magister reveal that I actually went back and re-read part of the book. I wasn’t completely convinced that it was De Quincy though. I thought that the real Magister was going to be someone more powerful, maybe even a Shadowhunter. I never suspected the underdog once!
I really liked all of the characters, I don’t think there was one that I thought needed some work or a more distinctive personality. Of course I fell in love with Will Herondale, resident bad boy and sarcastic asshole extraordinaire. He provided most of the comic relief in the book, which usually makes up the anatomy of my favorite characters. I actually found myself laughing out loud at this book at times, which is something I don’t usually do.
I know that there’s supposed to be some sort of love triangle between Jem, Will, and Tessa, but I didn’t feel like it was really a love triangle. It was more like Tessa pining after Will, Will pining after Tessa and being angry about it, and Jem pining after Tessa from the deepest darkest depths of the friend-zone. I really didn’t get any romantic vibe between Tessa and Jem at all. (I know that some people were all about Team Jem, but I just think there isn’t a contest here.) Jem is sweet, amicable, and everything everyone should want in a boyfriend (minus the addiction to demon drugs). But there wasn’t any spark! I hope that Jem ends up with Sophie, because she truly seems to love him and she deserves a good man in her life after being disfigured by the hash-slinging slasher. (#fuckboys Amiright)
We have Charlotte, a woman in the 1870’s (not the most powerful position to be in) who is running the Shadowhunter Institute at the ripe old age of 23. She is young and unsure, but she is kicking ass at her job. This accomplishment is undermined by Jessamine. Jessamine was the ultimate anti-feminist. Jessamine doesn’t even want to be a Shadowhunter, part of which I can understand because its really dangerous. But it’s in her blood! What frustrated me most about her was that she just refused to do anything. When everyone needed her help she was just like “Ladies don’t do that.” (Oh OK, you sit tight then.) She asks Tessa to move out of the academy with her so she can find a husband and get married. Then Tessa’s idiot brother shows up and she swoons over him like she’s never seen a boy before. Anyone else reminded of Anna from Frozen? (You can’t marry a man you just met!) All this ranting makes it sound like I hated her, which I didn’t. She was a product of her upbringing and the time period, so its not like she did anything particularly out of character. (Except when she Buffy the Vampire Slayer-ed that troll in the park. Ladies definitely don’t do that.)
Final thoughts: I have so many unanswered questions from reading this book! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series plays out. Next stop, Clockwork Prince!