The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still. Discover the riveting first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.
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....
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
I tried to access the sample of this book on the Amazon site, but it wouldn't load on my computer. I don't know if others would find it there if they tried, so I gave up and bought the book on Audible, intending to write an entire review. I got the audio book because the ebook was $10.99 and I could get it on audible, with our monthly account for one $13 token. Since I have much more time to listen than I do to sit down and read a book, I knew I was more likely to finish it this way. I might point out that the paperback book is listed for less than $8 which doesn't make sense to me, unless you are trying to encourage people to buy physical books.
So here is the first chapter, which is actually a prolog. I know. Don't get me started. I'll talk about that later.
(Read the prolog)
The prolog doesn't prepare us for the story or answer any questions for us. In fact it leaves us with a number of questions that we will later cause us to exclaim, or sigh, and say, Oh, that who that is, That's what Will meant, or So, this was an important point.
In the prolog we don't meet Tessa. The first chapter introduces us to her and introduces her to the Dark Sisters. I won't give anything away that the books own blurb didn't when I say that living with the dark sisters was a negative experience. Tessa displays her intelligence and her drive when she escapes from these two evil women and falls in with the Shadowhunters.
As I was working on this review my editor-alter-ego tried to take over and looked for as many things wrong as I could find. I don't care who you are, things can be found that are wrong with any book--so much of right and wrong in literature is based on personal likes and dislikes. So, before any of my potentially negative comments can be taken wrong, I want to go over the things that I really liked about this book.
Cassandra Claire is an excellent story teller. She well deserves the many New York Times best sellers she has earned. I was immediately in the story with Tessa on the docks in England feeling out of place and anxious. I listened to an audio version, which has its benefits and its drawbacks. On the plus side, the narrator was talented and helped to bring the story to life. For the most part, she held my attention. There were occasions where I was so into the story that I wonder if I missed some salient points, which I will come to later. When I'm listening, I can't always rewind and see if I heard correctly or if I missed something, not like you can flip back to a paragraph and reread, when you have a book in your hands.
I liked the characters, though in the beginning I was a bit confused about who was who as the many characters of the Shadowhunters seemed to all come at once. I'm still not sure who all of them were. The main characters were pretty clearly rounded out, even if they didn't act they way I would have wanted them to. I never really got to like Will. I'm not sure if we were supposed to feel sorry for him or admire his independent aloofness. By the end of the book I had him rating more as a jerk than as a hero.
The plot was solid with numerous satisfying twists which I didn't see coming. I did see one of them which allowed Tessa to make a mistake. Of course, the mistake propelled the conflict forward and with it, a major action scene. Sometimes it seems like our otherwise intelligent and competent characters have to make dumb choices for the sake of the plot.
We are warned in the synopsis that this is the first book of a trilogy. As such, many questions are left unanswered. Tessa has a full character arc in coming to grips with who she is and what her magical abilities might be, but much of the balance of the story is still up in the air.
One aspect of both of the blurbs that I read states, "Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still." It makes it appear that this is the theme of the book. If it is, I am left unconvinced. I think the story makes the point that trust in, or dedication to, someone you love can be dangerous, but love is not what causes the danger.
I thought Tessa was a little passive. She starts out showing some real gumption as she defies the Dark Sisters and fights for her freedom. Leaving that prison she's reluctant to join in with the Shadow Hunters for fear that they are going to use her like the sisters tried to, and then she is suddenly doing exactly what the Hunters ask her to do without any of her former resistance. She pretty much goes with the flow until the end of the story when she finally pulls up her socks and takes charge. I could accept more of her passivity if she had some internal dialog or conflict explaining why she was going along with the hunters.
If you find vampires alluring, you may be disappointed as those who appeared in the Clockwork Angel seemed weak and unusually fragile.
My other major concern with the plot was what the clockwork angel had to do with anything. It was on a necklace that Tessa wore. I think she got it from her parents and had some emotional attachment. At times the small device came to life and fluttered its wings. How it did that, or what brought on the action was never clear to me. I would think that the name sake of the entire book would have received some resolution.
I don't know if I'll go on to listen to the rest of the books in the series and trilogy, but I recommend this book to any lover of YA Steampunk as this book brings that mythological period of time to life with all its clockwork attackers, foggy London streets, and sword slashing, magic casting, battles.