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…
How strange it is to have the power to literally transform yourself into other people and yet be unable to put yourself in their place. This is the problem that plagues shapeshifting heroine Tessa Gray in Cassandra Clare’s steampunk novel, Clockwork Angel. Part of a trilogy The Infernal Devices, this first book blends romance, sci-fi/fantasy, steampunk, and adventure all together churning out 400+ pages of entertainment.
One word…HOOKED! When I started reading the book, I knew it was more YA than adult fiction…so I was expecting Twilight with gears and steam. While some of the romance was a little Twilight-ish, it was more action, less ‘obsessive’, and the love story involves a shapeshifter and a shadowhunter (Nephilim) rather than a human and a vampire….not to mention all the great Steampunk elements.
The novel opens with a great action sequence with best friends and fighting partners, Will and Jem, pursuing a demon through the dark underbelly of Victorian London.
After giving the audience a little taste of what is to come, the novel formally opens with heroine Tessa fresh off the boat from New York in England. Tessa’s brother, Nate, has sent her a ticket to London to join him after the death of her Aunt (leaving them both orphans). She is snatched from the docks by a pair of evil sisters (the Dark Sisters) who hold her prisoner forcing her to learn how to use her supernatural ‘talent’.
Tessa has no idea that she possesses any special power but the Dark Sisters seem to know something she doesn’t….they plan to offer her as a bride to the evil Magister but just before the fateful meeting, Tessa is rescued by Will and taken to the shadow hunter institute for safekeeping.
Innocent and scared, Tessa meets the other shadow hunters with trepidation. They eventually earn her trust and take her in so they can protect her. She quickly grows infatuated with the moody and self-destructive Will….but when she finds a kindred spirit in Will’s best friend, Jem, she finds herself torn between the devoted Jem or the wild Will.
In the midst of all the YA romance, there is a richly mystifying mystery involving all kinds of sci-fi/fantasy creatures….lycanthropes, vampires, warlocks, demons, Nephilim, and mundanes (humans) add in the clockwork angels, automatons, and steam-powered inventions and you have one perfectly constructed Steampunk novel!
One thing which stood out to me as different in this book was Tessa as a heroine. As I said earlier, she is a shapeshifter (though new to the magic) she quickly puts her new power into perspective. She recognizes her power makes her different from others–special if you will–a talent that makes her feel more alone than ever before.
Since she can change into anyone, she can literally be them–mind, body, and spirit–but she finds it hard to really put herself in their place or in their shoes which I think is ironic. This is part of the reason that she doesn’t fully understand Will or Camille, or Jem, or anyone in the Institute. For example, when she changes into Camille she realizes she can sense all of Camille’s feelings and thoughts inside her but when she changed back, Tess struggles to understand Camille and see situations like she might. You will have to read the book if you want to find out exactly what I mean…..let’s just say we see Tess growing up and struggling to understand people and why they do things some times. I thought this journey and struggle that Tessa goes though really brought depth to her character and the story–a very intriguing angle.
What I liked best about the novel was it jumped right in and didn’t feel rushed. I liked that the book never really had low moments or chapters. It went along smoothly and I found it really had to put down.
I loved that Tessa was more of an introverted and self inspecting female…..philosophical I guess one might call her. She was strong and could be a warrior but not in the same way the shadow hunters were.
Overall it was a richly written novel and very intriguing….I literally could NOT put it down. I loved that it was still a YA romance/fantasy but without all the vampire love stuff that’s all the rage right now. Clockwork Angel is also such a well-written book with lots of vivid descriptions….it’s practically a sensory experience. I also liked the setting in old foggy Victorian London, it’s the perfect place for a book like this…..it’s grimy, dirty streets, the dark opium dens, the gloomy weather and air….it’s hard NOT to think that something sinister is afoot.
Both the vivid descriptions and the setting works so well with a tale like this…it’s a perfect setting for a tale of dark magic, dangerous games, and tortured love This book blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and Steampunk unbelievably well, much much more than I ever expected when I first picked it up, had I know it was going to be so good I would have read it first.
Full steam ahead!!! The novel keeps up constant action and moves forward without a break leading up to the brilliant conclusion, full of twists and shocking revelations that will leave readers longing for the next book in the series, Clockwork Prince. I am so glad I pre-ordered it
Slink off into the world of shadows and twisted machines….down into a world where you can literally be someone in body but still cannot ‘see’ them….escape into a world where we are all pulvis et umbra sumus (dust and shadows)….by the Angel you will not be disappointed in the least!