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.
CHARACTERS: Okay, I have to get this out of the way so all the haters can comment on how stupid I am and how much I suck and how I don’t “get” romance. Okay, here goes: I am neither TeamJem nor TeamWill. I am TeamIhopetheresanotherloveinterestinthesecondbookorTessastayssingle. Seriously both of these boys annoyed the piss out of me, for very different reasons. Let me break it down.
Will is just a plain old douche. I’m sorry I so don’t understand the appeal of the rude, bad boy. And don’t give me that “He’s just misunderstood” crap. He’s flippant, self-absorbed and cruel at times. He’s just a big meanie. Seriouisly, I don’t care how dashingly handsome he is. He’s so beyond high maintenance that even if he grew up to look like David Boreanaz, it wouldn’t be worth it.
But for all his faults, at least Will is interesting. Jem, dear God this guy is a walking, talking snooze-fest. I know, I know he’s the “sensitive” one. Old soul and all that shit. But he was totally vanilla pudding bland. He wanders around all big soulful eyes, playing his violin and trying to help people understand Will better. I’m all for guys being in touch with their emotions and stuff, but he just seemed like he’d be a major cry-baby.
I’d like to think that Tessa is such a smart, book reading chick that she’ll eventually tell the two of them to bugger off and go live with Jessamine. Ah, Jessamine. Now her I like. Yeah, she’s a bitch, but she’s kinda cool, too. Oh, I like Tessa, also. In fact, I like her a lot. But I totally dig Jessamine. Smart, snotty and pretentious she knows what she wants and she sticks to her guns. She’s all kinds of cool.
Because this is a prequel to Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, we some of the same characters and family names. Sure, Clockwork Angel takes place a zillion years before MI, but, hey, these folks are supernatural. Meaning they live a loooong time.
PLOT: Clockwork Angel is my first foray into steampunk, and I gotta say I like it! The mix of Victorian England, paranormal and technology was interesting and not really confusing, though I thought it was going to be.
The basic normal-girl-finds-out-she-isn’t-normal-is torn-between-two-boys plot-line is almost identical to that in the MI series, but really, why mess with a good thing, right? AND, it’s kinda the basic plot for most paranormal YA. Despite the similarities to the MI series, I wasn’t bored and never once felt cheated. Plus, the mysteries surround Tessa and who she is are different enough from Clary’s issue in MI that I never once felt like I was reading the same book only with different characters.
WRITING: I don’t even want to guess at the hours of research Clare did before writing Clockwork Angel. But you can certainly tell she did enough from not only her descriptions of Victorian England, but her dialogue. She did a bang up job of making it seem like period speech without it being so stuffy I dozed off (except for when Jem talked, but that’s not the writing as much as the character. :P) The thing about Clare’s writing is that even though I basically despised the two romantic leads, I loved the book. Loved it. She starts the book off right in the story, without a lot of preamble and flowery stuff. I was engaged the whole time I read.
WHO I WOULD RECOMMEND CLOCKWORK ANGEL TO: Of course fans of Clare’s Mortal Instruments series will love this prequel and get a charge out of seeing some of the same characters and family names. But if you haven’t read the series and enjoy steampunk or YA paranormal urban fantasy reads, then I suggest picking this one up.