Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

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, who are 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.

As a big fan of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, I was delighted to find out that not only is she continuing that series past the original trilogy but she's also writing a prequel trilogy too. Whoo-hoo! I loved Clary and Jace and Simon and Izzy; I gushed about them at the circulation desk at my library when I would check them out and I was always be the first on the request list, just as I was for Clockwork Angel. It was almost painful for me to leave it at home when we went to New York for the comic-con. (I was already toting enough books to give me flashbacks to college.) I was somehow able to make myself be patient and wait but have I ever mentioned here how much I hate to wait? We have been home for a week now and things were still be crazy enough to keep me away from Clockwork Angel a while longer was worth the wait. Oh yes it was.

I think I liked Clockwork Angel more than City of Bones and I think it was because of the setting. City of Bones is set in the present in New York and Clary seems like a fairly normal contemporary teenage girl but Tessa's story takes place during that Victorian time period that I love reading about; the car-wreck fascination of that unfamiliar lifestyle of living before electricity, the internet, and tampons that makes it so absorbing to me but I am completely sure that I would never want to live then. Clockwork Angel also has an steampunk element in the presence of the actual clockworks, used to create zombie-like automatons to be used as minions. They were actually a bit scary, these automatons, and seeing them be so relentless in their pursuit of Tessa that they would be injured and unconcerned was unnerving.

The parts that most caught my attention were, of course, the boys. Will and Jem, two young Shadowhunters who are as tight as brothers and are about to fight over a girl. Jem has a serious secret but Will is so much the jackass that no one tries to get close enough to find out what makes him...tick. Will's the one who rescues Tessa from the Dark Sisters and he's the one who she starts to fall for but will he let her? Predictably, it won't be easy for them. I don't think Clare will be attempting anything like the brush of incest that tortured Clary and Jace in TMI but Will's definitely got something standing in his way to Tessa and he's not about to share it with anyone anytime soon.

Cassandra Clare's pretty open about her publication schedule - which I love - but unfortunately the second Infernal Devices book, Clockwork Prince, won't be out until September 2011. Nooooo! However, we do get a taste of Clary and Jace again in April 2011 in City of Fallen Angels, book four in the Mortal Instruments series. I shall endeavor to distract myself so the hand wringing and garment rending symptoms of book withdrawal don't begin too soon.

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