Published 2010 478 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Magic is dangerous - but love is more dangerous still...
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray arrives in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Friendless and hunted, Tessa seeks refuge with the Shadowhunters, a band of warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. Drawn ever deeper into their world, she finds herself fascinated by – and torn between – two best friends, and quickly realizes that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
Clockwork Angel is the first book in the new Infernal Devices series by YA fantasy author Cassandra Clare. The Infernal Devices books are set in Victorian London and are written as a prequel to Clare’s bestselling Mortal Instruments urban fantasy series.
Clockwork Angel gets this new series off to a good start, introducing a whole new world populated with all new characters. The story’s main protagonist is 16 year-old Tessa, a seemingly normal girl who after journeying from New York to London to be reunited with her brother, finds herself kidnapped upon her arrival. Held captive by the Dark Sisters, Tessa is forced to access hitherto unknown shapeshifting abilities by the Sisters, who threaten the life of her brother Nate. There are some obvious parallels to Clary from the Mortal Instruments here – once again we see a girl who thought she was completely normal suddenly exposed to a hidden supernatural world when she finds out that she’s got supernatural powers. Like Clary she ends up with no one to turn to except for the Shadowhunters, who offer her refuge and explanations for the world she’s suddenly found herself in.
As with the Mortal Instruments, the London Clave is inhabited by several other young Shadowhunters, who provide companionship, adventure and a romantic interest. The main character here is Will, the Shadowhunter who rescues Tessa from the Sisters, and although the author drops hints about a dark secret and a hidden torment, readers are left guessing to what it might be. There are clear similarities to Jace from the Mortal Instruments, he’s a confident fighter and brash young man who continually rubs Tessa the wrong way, right up to the point where she’s about to fall into his arms…
Unlike Clary and Jace I just didn’t feel that Tessa and Will worked that well together as a potential couple. Indeed the Shadowhunter group as a whole in Clockwork Angel seems more socially awkward and far less cohesive than Clary and Jace’s friends from the Mortal Instruments books. This maybe due to the social restrictions and customs of the era being reflected in the character’s relationships but, whatever the reason, the Clockwork Angel characters just didn’t seen to gel together too well for me.
There is more than a touch of Steampunk to Clockwork Angel. Henry, one of the adult Shadowhunters in charge of the Clave, has an absent-minded mad inventor vibe going on, with a laboratory in the crypt of the Institute and a constant stream of bizarre inventions that may, or may not, work as advertised. The mystery/adventure part of the plotline revolves around a nefarious plot to build an army of clockwork automatons (robots). Naturally because this is an urban fantasy story part of that plot involves stealing the skins of dead humans to clothe the machines and super-charging them with demon energies to give the automatons unnatural intelligence. It’s certainly chilling and fantastic enough to satisfy any urban fantasy fan – although any self-respecting mystery fan is probably going to see the plot-twists coming a mile off.
On the whole Clockwork Angel is a well-written and well-paced story. Vampire fans should enjoy the vampire arch-villain and there are some great nail-biting action scenes when the Shadowhunters clash with the vampires. Fans of the Mortal Instrument books may find Tessa and Will lacking protagonists by comparison to Clary and Jace. They are similar enough to Clary and Jace to be a constant reminder that they are not them, but there’s plenty of potential in Tessa and Will. They may surprise this reviewer even yet!
All-in-all there are more than enough intrigues and unanswered questions in Clockwork Angel in hold a reader’s interest in the Infernal Devices and the next part of Tessa and Will’s story. If that wasn’t enough the cliff-hanger ending is guaranteed to whet appetites further – it certainly did mine…
LoveVampires Review Rating: