Review Blog

Oct 14 2010

Clockwork angel by Cassandra Clare

cover image

The Infernal Devices. Book 1. Walker Books, 2010. ISBN 9781406328813.
(Age 13+) Recommended for lovers of fantasy and romance. Tessa Gray, only sixteen years old, arrives in England in search of her brother Nathaniel, who has gone to London seeking his fortune. Nathaniel isn't waiting for her at Southampton, instead two strange women, Mrs Dark and Mrs Black, persuade her to enter their carriage after assuring her that Nathaniel is in London. To her dismay Tess discovers that Victorian London is a strange and dangerous place, where Shadowhunters stalk demons and terrifying supernatural creatures are afoot. Can Tessa trust Will and Jem, two young and handsome Shadowhunters, and why did her mother have a clockwork angel clutched in her hand as she died?
Although Clockwork angel is a prequel to Clare's The Mortal Instruments series, it reads very well as a stand-alone. Fans of the latter will recognise a couple of the people but this series takes the reader into a very different time period with new and interesting characters. Victorian London, with its fog, gaslights and shadowy alleys is fascinating. Vividly described, the 1800's came alive for me as Tessa struggles with the Downworld and finds sanctuary in the Institute. The inclusion of Victorian automatons and Tessa's clockwork angel adds rich detail and suspense.
Tessa is, in many ways, a product of her times, but she is no wimp. She is fearless in her search of her brother and courageous as she comes to grips with her new talents. Charlotte Branwell runs the Institute where Tess takes refuge and she too is a strong young woman, doing a man's job. Clare's two attractive young Shadowhunters, Will and Jem, are more that adequate romantic heroes. I empathised with Will's haunted nature and Jem's cheerful stance about his mysterious illness and am looking forward to learning more about their backgrounds in future books in the series. Mrs Dark and Mrs Black live up to their names and the early scenes when Tess is kept captured in their house are truly terrifying.
I thoroughly enjoyed Clockwork angel and I believe that teenage girls will enjoy the romance, action and suspense. It has enough twists and turns to keep the reader going to the end and enough unanswered questions to ensure that the next book in the series is picked up as soon as it hits the shelves.
Pat Pledger

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