Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) by Cassandra Clare

I know there are a lot of mixed feelings concerning Cassandra Claire’s writing, but I must admit that I found Clockwork Angel to be an engaging read. It had a bit of a rough start and it took awhile to get used to the writing, but I soon found that I couldn’t put the book down. At nearly five hundred pages, Clockwork Angel ended up taking me several days to finish, but with each day that passed I eagerly looked forward to the time when I could settle down and delve back into a world filled with Shadow Hunters, demons and automatons. Admittedly, the book ended up being too long and there were entire passages where characters would ramble on about their intentions and motivations to the point that I thought my eyeballs would bleed out, but I absolutely loved the world building, the interesting assortment of characters, and the Victorian England setting.

The story focuses for the most part on Tessa Gray, an American who sails to England to live with her brother after her Aunt Harriet dies from a sudden fever. Upon arriving, she is abducted by two nefarious characters referred to as the Dark Sisters who give her a crash course in what it means to be a Downworlder. Tessa grew up believing that the most excitement to be had could only be found in the pages of her beloved novels. Tessa, however, is a powerful shape shifter with the ability to retain the thoughts and memories of those whose form she has replicated. She learns that her brother has been abducted and that she was lured to England because a mysterious creature often referred to as the Magister covets her abilities. Tessa must cooperate with the Dark Sisters or she is sure to lose the only living relative she has left.

Will, a Shadow Hunter investigating the murder of a young girl, finds Tessa by chance when all evidence of foul play leads him to where she is being held captive. She is then brought back to the London Institute for Shadow Hunters where she discovers that there is an ongoing war between the Nephlim and the Downworlders who are determined to disturb the peace and endanger the lives of mundanes (humans). At the institute Tessa works along side the enclave in hope that they can help her save her brother and destroy the creature who will stop at nothing to posses her.

What I found most appealing about this book was the eccentric group of characters. Charlotte, the head of the London Institute and her husband Henry whose peculiar inventions always go awry are the surrogate parents of orphaned Will, Jem and Jessamine. This dysfunctional family can barely function as a unit, but it is clear that despite their vast differences in character they have a great deal of affection for one another. There is a love triangle of sorts between Will, Jem, and Tessa, but the real romance, or should I say bromance, is between the two young men.

I honestly really enjoyed this book and was sad to see it end. This is the first in a trilogy of prequels, so many of the questions raised in this book have yet to be answered. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy in a Victorian England setting, or who doesn’t mind that romance isn’t the primary focus of this tale. Rather, this story explores the idea of what it means to be human and the importance of family, even if those you surround yourself with aren’t bound to you by blood. Clockwork Angel also shows how destructive secrets can be and the damage it can wreak on your relationships and mental health. This book may have its fair share of flaws, but I think the good outweighs the bad and I’m happy to have read it.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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