Reading Challenge 2017 · Reviews

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

And thus begins the reviews for the series that knocked Harry Potter out of the number one spot… that’s right, it sounds blasphemous but hey, it finally happened!

The first book in Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy is basically the explanatory book for the continuation of the series. In Clockwork Angel, Clare defines what a Shadowhunter is, why they exist, what their mandate is, and their relationship to the Downworld prior to the recently negotiated Accords. For those who have already read The Mortal Instruments, I understand how the plot points in this book could seem tired. We who have read the already established series may not need the crash course in Shadowhunting that Clare provides the readers who are starting their journey with the prequels.

The first character introduced to the readers is Tessa Gray, a girl from New York crossing the ocean to be with her brother in London following the death of her aunt. She is maybe the most relatable character that I’ve ever read, so much so that Tessa and I could possibly be twins. Her love of literature is what first made me start drawing the comparisons, which is one of the reasons I love The Infernal Devices so much; every chapter, there is a reference to Victorian literature, from Dickens to Tennyson. She is brave and proud, though trepidatious about moving to a different country across the sea from her own. She is received at the port by two women, who we come to know as the Dark Sisters, who will take her to her brother. And thus begins Tessa’s nightmare….

Held captive by the Dark Sister’s for weeks, Tessa is trained to change into the body of any other person, living or deceased, simply by holding something that belonged to that person. Tessa is told that she will be married to a man simply known as “The Magister”. After a failed attempt to free herself from their imprisonment, Tessa attempts to escape again, only to run into someone who has come to investigate the magic surrounding the estate…

Enter William Herondale! He quickly became one of my favourite characters in the entire Shadowhunters universe. He is quirky, cocky, sarcastic, and everything that I love in a character. He quotes poetry and literature, and is unfailing in his loyalty to others. As an ancestor of Jace Herondale’s, I’m not even shocked with any of his character traits; if anything it makes me love them both more. Will, after being hit by Tessa with a jug, helps her escape the Dark Sister’s captivity and takes her to the London Institute, after revealing to Tessa that he is a Shadowhunter, and she is not entirely human. It is later in the institute that Tessa meets Will’s parabatai…

Finally, the man who makes this trio a triangle makes an entrance after Tessa walks into his room. Jem (James) Carstairs is maybe the purest, loveliest soul in the entire Shadowhunters universe. It’s impossible to dislike him; he’s charming, kind, caring, devoted and loving. He cares for his parabatai more than anything else, and is the one person who can keep everyone at the London Institute grounded. Jem is confined to his room most of the time, too weak to go on missions for the Clave, as it is later revealed he relies on yin fen to live, following an attack by a demon at the ShangHai institute.

While all of the characters in this series (except Jessamine Lovelace, because ugh) are loveable, I understand why Clare absolutely had to write these three. The story that is woven around Tessa, Will and Jem is beautiful. Even in this, the first book of the series, you can tell that they are going to be a bumpy ride with a beautiful ending. From the outset, you can tell that Will is misunderstood. He lashes out when he’s afraid, as demonstrated by when Tessa goes to him asking for a serious relationship. By yelling at her and telling her he didn’t want to be with her because, as a warlock, she is believed to not be able to produce children, Will is pushing her away out of fear of hurting both Tessa and himself. Instead, he pushes her into the arms of his parabatai, Jem, who declares his feelings for Tessa, stating that the right man wouldn’t care if she could bear children or not.

I’ll be completely honest, Clockwork Angel is my least favourite book of the three. It wasn’t an easy read, it was slow moving until the last five chapters. I wasn’t sure that I’d like the love triangle dynamic, as we had already seen that in The Mortal Instruments between Clary, Simon and Jace. However, I was proven wrong. The love triangle at the centre of this story is the basis on which the plot moves forward. It is necessary for it to exist; without it, I doubt the series would have been as wonderful as it turned out. All in all, the book was a good read. While it wasn’t my favourite book, it set events in motion needed to complete the series and push the narrative forward. For that, I can give it praise.

Rating: 3.5/5

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