by Cassandra Clare
1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. Her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters, Will and Jem. They find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club: secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans with an unstoppable army of clockwork creatures who look to control the British Empire.
So, Clockwork Angel. I must say, Cassandra has outdone herself here. Though I started out with modest expectations, I love everything about it. The writing so perfectly reflects nineteenth century London, everything about the dialogue is so quirky and real of that time. While I didn’t finish City of Bones to the end, you could say I’m somewhat informed on the world of Mortal Instruments. Therefore I had familiarization with the world of the Shadowhunters. But even without that prior knowledge, I think it’s still possible to breeze through the book. Cassandra writes clearly and her prose is alluring. Whereas with some writers it is easy to lose the flow along the lines and you find yourself having to reread a sentence, I did not encounter this problem with Clare’s writing.
Victorian London is delivered well. Cassandra materializes for us a dark city with cobblestone streets home to the clap of hooves and carriages in crawling fog overseen by the heaving Thames. Shades of romance and hints of humour are dotted throughout the story. I also like that the book does not solely focus on the romance of the lead male and lead female which dominates everything, but that characters supplement each other and highlight aspects of one another’s personalities, and the differing romantic possibilities are always there. Never does the universe center on the lead roles. It feels character-driven as well as plot-led. Bonds and interactions became exciting for me, and I really grew to care for the characters which felt authentic. Themes of companionship and rivalry have become common in Clare’s world, but City of Bones is not repeated, and this is a new take on these themes, no regurgitated characters or plot, just a cleverly interlaced series of twists, turns and emotion.
One thing I loved about the book was the heroine, Tessa. She is not immediately a badass or professional. She starts out courteous, polite, as women of Victorian London were expected to be, but she transforms and is enveloped by character development, something I love to see in action. By the end of the book she is strong and courageous and I look forward to seeing her develop further in the Infernal Devices series. It’s good to see a refreshing female character playing her role well, fleshed out with a distinct personality, having potential for growth.
Will and Jem make for comedic gold at times. Their dialogue makes the book a laughing pleasure to read. While Will is great and all, tormented handsome fellow that he is, it is Jem’s wit that keeps the humour on point. I loved the interaction between the two and Tessa. Each character has their intricacies and backstories, but the supporting cast of characters are equally as rich and developed as our main trio, which really gives substance to the content.
I’m open to both third and first person, but I always favour the third if pulled off well. Cassandra does not disappoint. Her take on third is great and her handling of three main characters is also executed brilliantly. Sometimes it is easy to get lost with a cast of three main characters, however this did not happen in Clockwork Angel. I followed each of their stories enthusiastically and was attached to all three by the end, feeling that everything about their interactions and portrayal was natural and real.
“Remember when you tried to convince me to feed a poultry pie to the mallards in the park to see if you could breed a race of cannibal ducks?”
“They ate it too,” Will reminisced. “Bloodthirsty little beasts. Never trust a duck.”
Naturally, with the book ending on a colossal cliffhanger, I am eager to read the next installment. I never thought I’d be a fan of Clare’s, never much taking to her earlier books nor finishing any of them, but perhaps her writing style has developed or she has taken on another approach, I’m not sure. Either way, Clockwork Angel is certainly working for me. Cassandra Clare has successfully gained a new fan!