Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Angel
Series: The Infernal Devices #1
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Supernatural Fiction
Elements: Nephilim, Demons, Vampires, Warlocks, Fae
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, Simon and Schuster Inc.
Format: Paperback, 496 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-4169-7587-8
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Source: Wentworth Library
Rating: 4.5/5

Tagline(s): Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

Summary: When Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother in Victorian England, something terrible is waiting for her in London's Downworld. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she has the power to transform into another person. 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, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James and Will. As Tessa is drawn deep into a plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, she 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.


Clockwork Angel takes place in Victorian England's city of London. Cassandra Clare does and amazing job in making the world of the book feel real. It's almost as if she's really in 1878 London telling us what's going on around her and taking us along for the ride.

Cassandra tells the story using the era's speech patterns; with all it's formality and respect. She meticulously describes the clothing, furniture, buildings, landscape, and atmosphere of London at that time. This all combines to give us a clear picture of the setting and story.

When Tessa travels from New York to London to meet her brother she ends up being kidnapped and imprisoned by the Dark Sisters. They practically torture her in training her to use an ability she never even knew she had. After hearing that she's to be married to someone called the Magister, Tessa tries to escape but is easily recaptured. Later that night she's saved by a boy calling himself William Herondale.

The investigation into the young girl found dead in an alley leads Will to the Dark House. While searching the house Will meets Tessa after the hits him with a jug and demands to know if he's the Magister. After assuring her that he's no the Magister they take their leave of the Dark House, although not without a fight.

Tessa finds refuge and safety with Will and the Shadowhunters at the Institute. Though it's become clear that her imprisonment, her rare ability, and the dead girl from the alley, are all part of a much bigger plot. As the investigation continues, secrets are revealed and loyalties are tested.

Tessa is a young woman in need of help in the beginning of Clockwork Angel. That isn't to say that she's weak, though. Underneath it all, she's got a spine of steel that she's just afraid to show; though we see more of her strength as things play out. After observing the female Shadowhunters and hearing Will's story of Queen Boadicea, Tessa realizes that it's all right for women to be fighters; to be brave and fierce. As she learns more about herself and her ability to Change, she feels more and more inhuman and set apart from everyone and everything. She fears that every time she Changes she loses a small piece of herself that makes her Tessa Gray. Tessa is fiercely loyal and has a great capacity to love. She's well-versed in literature and is very opinionated (though she tries to hide it).

It's apparent in the very beginning that arrogance and sarcasm run in the Herondale family. But behind all that arrogance and those sharp words is something breakable in Will. He doesn't allow anyone to get too close, not even Jem, his best friend and parabatai. But on the rare occasion when someone does manage to get past his barriers, he lashes out and can be quite cruel in his words and actions. Something about Tessa leaves Will unbalanced, and she's usually the one who gets hit the worst by Will's "moods." Though he doesn't allow himself to show it, he cares a lot about those who live in the Institute with him (with possibly the exception of Jessamine). No one knows anything about his life before he came to the Institute. He's well-versed in literature and loves books, almost, if not more so, than Tessa.

Jem is the opposite of Will in both looks and personality. He has a calm and almost gentle atmosphere about him. He's very philosophical and always seems to be pondering about something. Jem has had his own share of darkness in his life. He was tortured and his parents murdered by a demon out for revenge. The lasting result of his torture is an addiction that he can't shake off and is slowly killing him. The drug he must take has leached all color from his hair, eyes, and skin; leaving this hair and eyes a silvery color, and his skin very pale. Jem is very talented in playing the violin and his words and presence bring much comfort to Tessa.

One of the things I enjoyed the most in Clockwork Angel is all the references to literature. Every chapter has a line or verse that acts as a sort of preface for the chapter. There are also many references made by the characters that help them bring a little something extra to the points they're trying to make (this is mostly done by Will and Tessa). All the literature is something that would be familiar to Tessa and everyone else in that time period. For instance: Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and William Blake; also quite a few passages from Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

I love the cover. Everything from the clockwork cogs, cams, and pistons in the far background, the backdrop of London in the near background, and Tessa's little clockwork angel, all show pieces of the story. The model on the cover who is portraying Will has the Marks of a Shadowhunter and is wearing the clothing of the time. The only thing that bothers my is the hat. It's said in the book that Will never wears a hat, so why is the model lifting a hat off his head?

Magnus's Vow, which is an original bonus story at the end of Clockwork Angel, takes place during City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments series. It's after the party, the first time he met Jace, Clary, Alec, Isabelle, and Simon; and that meeting brought back memories of Tessa, Will, Jem, Jessamine, Charlotte, and Henry. He can't help making comparisons between the two groups. It was Will who changed Magnus's life and introduced his to the idea that Downworlders and Shadowhunters could be friends. Then he thinks of Tessa who will never die, just like he will never die, and how she loved a mortal who was destined to die and leave her behind.
"Knowing Will and his friends had made Magnus swear to himself that he would never again get involved in Shadowhunters' personal business. Because when you got to know them, you got to care about them. And when you got to care about mortals, they broke your heart."
Magnus's Vow makes you contemplate how lonely an immortal life must be. As you meet people and come to care and love them, you only get to be with them for such a short time before you watch them begin to age and eventually die, while you stay the same and continue on without them. It's just so heartbreaking to even think about, much less experience. It's easy to see why Magnus wouldn't have wanted to get involved with another group of Shadowhunters so much like the group before them.

About this Author:

Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.

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