Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)
By Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry Books

To Sum It Up:

In 1878, Tessa Gray leaves New York to join her brother in England. Little does she know that danger awaits her in the form of the Dark Sisters, who take Tessa captive and force her to use the shape-shifting power she had no idea she possessed. The sisters claim to be preparing her for her marriage to the mysterious Magister, the head of the equally mysterious Pandemonium Club. Fortunately, Tessa is rescued by the Shadowhunters, beings with extraordinary abilities that aid them in their primary purpose—to protect the world from demons. Tessa agrees to assist the Shadowhunters with their investigation into the Pandemonium Club in exchange for their help in locating her missing brother. She also hopes to discover why she is able to do what she can because not even the Shadowhunters have encountered someone with her power before.


I first read Clockwork Angel almost two years ago after reading books one through four of Cassandra Clare’s modern day Shadowhunter series, The Mortal Instruments. At the time, I preferred Clockwork Angel over the TMI books, and rereading it has only solidified that opinion. Many times over. I just love the combination of the Victorian London setting and the world of the Shadowhunters. Everything that I love about the latter—their angelic origin, their superhuman abilities, and their badass demon-killing skills—is seamlessly integrated into a time period that I’ve always found fascinating. With so many of my favorite bookish elements present here, Clockwork Angel really can't put a foot wrong in my eyes. And it doesn’t.

Reviewing this book following a reread feels a little weird to me, maybe because I already knew what was going to happen as well as what to expect from the sequel, Clockwork Prince. Plus, it’s a challenge for me to write about why I obsess over this series so much. It’s one of those things that simply is. So, I’ll try to keep my gushing to a minimum, but I guarantee nothing.

For me, one of the biggest differences between The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments is the heroines. I like Tessa much more than I like TMI’s Clary Fray, who makes rash decisions once too often for my liking. Tessa has a steadier head on her shoulders. Although she receives the worst welcome ever upon her arrival in England, she finds a way to survive yet another day in the horrible Dark Sisters’ house. If anybody had a reason to lose herself in her sorrows, it’d be Tessa, but she doesn’t. Once she’s freed from that nightmarish place, she’s wary of being used again for her shape-shifting power, this time by her rescuers, the Shadowhunters, and is reluctant to accept any charity from them. Clare gives her heroine a nice balance of character traits; Tessa is strong and independent yet not unrealistically so for a young woman of that time period.

Whereas I’m not all that interested in all of TMI’s secondary characters (the roster of which seems to expand with every installment), I’m quite attached to the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. They truly are like a family. I love how eccentric yet brilliant Henry is. I admire Charlotte for her courage and strength. In name, she and Henry co-head the London Institute, but while Henry spends all his time tinkering with his inventions, it’s really Charlotte who oversees the day-to-day operation of the Institute. Not everyone in the Clave likes the idea of a woman in a position of authority, but Charlotte is an excellent leader and also a kind mother figure to the underage Shadowhunters in the Institute’s care. These include Jessamine, who is the only member of the group I can’t stand. She despises everything about being a Shadowhunter and wants to find a mundane (human) husband so she can turn her back on the Nephilim forever. Jessie is so shallow and selfish, and I don’t understand why she doesn’t want to be a Shadowhunter. I’d gladly take her place if it were possible!

And then we have the boys. William Herondale and James Carstairs. Never, ever, have I loved two guys in the same YA book as much as I love these two. Will’s incessant sarcasm just slays me. His brand of wit may not be for everyone, but it’s exactly my thing. See, I have a weakness for snarky lads, even more of one for snarky lads with English accents. Mr. Herondale has cast quite a spell on me, but it’s not only because of his way with words and his dreamy looks. Will’s brother-like devotion to his best friend, Jem, is beyond superlatives. He would do anything for Jem, and vice versa. Jem is the perfect gentleman that Will often is not. Jem always seems to know the right thing to say, and he’s the only one who can occasionally talk some sense into Will. There’s this quiet intensity to Jem; his poor health makes him appear so fragile, yet when the Shadowhunters go into battle, he’s right there in the thick of the action. Will and Jem could not be more dissimilar in temperament, but that’s probably why they are the absolute best of friends. Their bond, which is infinite in depth, is, to me, what makes this book and this series so utterly, utterly mesmerizing to read.

I’d forgotten how dark the tone of Clockwork Angel could be. The clockwork automatons are super creepy, and the manner in which some of their parts have been obtained is downright chilling. There’s also a fancy soirĂ©e filled with vampires, and they’re not of the sparkly variety. They don’t have time for that because they’re too busy sizing up their next meal. In Clockwork Angel, you’ve got paranormal creatures of just about every sort, snappy dialogue that’s even more impressive because it still sounds in keeping with the times, not one but two swoon-worthy boys, and, for good measure, some steampunk. Really, there isn’t much more I could have asked for in a novel, except perhaps for this world to be real so I could travel back in time and be a part of it.

All in All:

Yeah, I loved this book. A lot.

• Melissa's Review of Clockwork Angel


  1. Brilliant review Lee! You weren't too gushy at all (believe me I've been guilty of that one before) and I was really eager to read your review of this one - since it's book 1 and I don't need to be caught up for that >.< Everything you described sounds RIGHT up my alley. I have a huge weakness for Victorian London, Steampunk & 2 stellar boy choices! I also loved your comparison of the heroines in TMI & I'm really looking forward to diving in myself :D

    1. I really, really, hope you love this as much as I do, Micheline! This series . . . it's everything I love about a book wrapped up like a Christmas present.

  2. This sounds so cool, I really haven't read that much of the series but the steampunk sound of this is neat!

    1. I love the world of the Shadowhunters, and the Victorian steampunk element of this series just makes it all the more fascinating.

  3. I think Cassandra Clare really nailed it with this series - much better than The Mortal Instruments, imo. I absolutely agree with what you said about Will, Tessa and Jem. Tessa was so independent and strong and brave and aghghsgf <3 I loved her! And Will and Jem were absolutely amazing! Will was the funny, careless one and Jem was this quiet, smart and gentlemanly guy who acted as Will's buffer most of the time. The rest of the characters (except for Jessie, because - EW!) were awesome, especially Henry; he was kinda cute in a sheepish way.

    And I totally agree the world should be real... or at least people should have some kind of access to a universe that is the exact replica of the world in Clockwork Angel. So we can get more Will <3 (I do have a soft-as-pillow spot for him)

    Great review. People who haven't read this series yet will probably want to start right away!

    1. I like TMI, but it just can't compare to TID. Will, Jem, and Tessa have become like best friends to me, and it's so hard saying goodbye to them. And if this world could somehow become real, I'd find a way to go there because do I ever love it!

  4. I'm reading this right now and I'm absolutely LOVING it! While I really liked the first three Mortal Instruments books (haven't read the others yet) and only loved the third one, this one drew me in from the start and overall, like you said, I can't really compare the two. But I'm so happy that I finally got to reading this, because it's just so so good :)

    1. I'm so happy to hear that you're enjoying this! What really hooked me about TMI was the world of the Shadowhunters and their lore, and that combined with the Victorian England setting of TID made it hands-down my favorite Clare series. I hope you love the rest of the TID books just as much! Have the tissues ready when you read Clockwork Princess!


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