Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: McElderry Books
Release Date: August 31st, 2010
Pages: 479
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.
Plot: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Impact: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

What do you get when you combine steampunkery; kick-ass, otherworldly characters; and a gripping love triangle? Why, you get Clockwork Angel.

Set in victorian London, Clockwork Angel is the prequel to The Mortal Instruments series by best-selling author Cassandra Clare. Good as both a companion and a standalone, Clockwork Angel features an urban fantasy storyline set in early England, and traces back to the early days of Shadowhunters.

I adored The Mortal Instruments series, so I had high hopes for this novel. Truth be told, though, I didn't know what to expect. In a way, I knew I'd be getting a dose of Shadowhunter mythology, but other than that, I came up blank in the expectations area. I had no idea how Clare would execute the story.

Of course, Clare does so with flourish. Not only does she create a world so enchanting and believable it could rival the one of her first series, she weaves together a story so filled with action, adventure and love with standout characters and a suspenseful plot.

I'm a sucker for period pieces, so I loved the setting of the novel. From the very beginning, I enjoyed drinking in Clare's depiction of London where Shadowhunters exist, and the human world unknowingly collides with the demon world constantly. In a way, reading the novel was like a cultural experience for me.

I also particularly enjoyed the characters. Each one shines in his or her own way, and all of them are well-developed yet ambiguous at the same time- which works just fine, considering this is the first novel of a trilogy. The foundations set for each character in the novel is strong, but there's still a lot of room for possibility in the coming books. I was honestly more swept away by the story and the characters of The Mortal Instruments series, but that does not take away from the fact that the characterization in Clockwork Angel is brilliant. Tessa is a headstrong protagonist, one who's likable and easy to identify with, and Will and Jem are two boys who are so different from one another yet share this undeniable bond. Despite their disagreements, they bring out the best in each other, and their friendship is admirable- one of the best, most sincere ones I've read of.

Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed was the love triangle. In The Mortal Instruments, there was never really any competition- I knew the couple I supported from the very beginning. But that wasn't the case for Clockwork Angel. I honestly did not, and still do not, know who I wanted Tessa to be with, Will or Jem. Both males bring out different sides of her, either one of them could work. That's the best kind of love triangle, though, I think- one where the reader is so torn between two possibilities, it's almost impossible to decide. sure, I can't choose, but it makes me even more excited to read the succeeding book!

If you liked Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series, you're guaranteed to like this novel. It's thrilling and romantic and packs a punch, but its setting and characters add something new and different to it. And if you haven't read The Mortal Instruments series yet, fear not- Clockwork Angel is just as good on its own, and is still understandable. So if you're fond of Shadowhunter mythology, steampunkery, thrilling fantasy stories, period pieces, YA romance, or all of the above, give this novel a try. It won't disappoint.


  1. Great review, Erika! I enjoyed this book, though I thought it was a bit too much like TMI for my tastes. I was hoping it would be a legitimate prequel...definitely still entertaining though :)

  2. I'm reading this right now, and so far loving it! I'm a huge fan of the Mortal Instruments series and my only complaint thus far is that Will seems *a lot* like Jace. Great review, and I'm glad to hear there's more steampunkery involved. :)

  3. I still have to start the Mortal Instruments. This one does sound good, though!

  4. Wonderful Review! I enjoyed TMI series. I'm just getting into steampunk right now, so I'll have to check this one out!

  5. I read this one and I loved it! I'm glad you liked it too. Great review.