Clockwork Angel: Book Review

I am an unapologetic fan of young adult urban fantasy. I’m an even bigger fan of Cassandra Clare, who’s books I adore. Besides being a witty writer with fantastic plots, she always adds a mystery, a thread of angst, into her books that you never solve until the end of the series. And it drives you crazy! In a good way.

 Clockwork Angel starts off The Infernal Devices series—Did I mention that it’s also a historical fiction novel based in Victorian London with steampunk elements?—with the same type of world as she first introduced us to The Mortal Instruments series (of which The City of Bones is being made into a movie). The Infernal Devices starts a couple hundred of years before The Mortal Instruments with some familiar characters—yes, Magnus Bane!—some new characters, and some characters we heard mentioned in the previous series and always wondered about.

The primary characters are Tess, Will, and Jem. Tess is a shapeshifter from New York City who travels to London to find her brother, who has fallen in with some bad sorts. And this is not just normal bad. This is involved-with-evil bad. She only finds out in London that she’s can change shapes and that her pendent, a clockwork angel, has some peculiar powers. Meanwhile, she has to deal with an evil magician who wants to use her, a brother who has lost his way, and two shadowhunters who rescue her.

These two shadowhunters, Jem and Will, are not only best friends, but they also both like Tessa—like her in the no-holds-barred, passionate, irrepressible way of youth. And thus our love triangle is formed, and a series-arching plot element. This book has all the angst, passion, and adventure that I love in a good YA novel.

For all you poor souls who didn’t have the good judgement to read Clare’s first series and think I’m speaking gibberish, here is a quick rundown of the Shadowhunter world:

  • Shadowhunters – Nephilim (half angel) warriors who fight to keep demons out of the world
  • Downworlders – Supernatural beings (vampires and werewolves, etc.) that the Shadowhunters have a tentative truce with as long as they don’t interfere with Mundanes (you and I—boring humans)
  • The Clave – The Shadowhunter population
  • Idris – The Shadowhunter home country which is, mysteriously, impossible to breach by Mundanes
  • Demons – Really? Duh.

It’s a fun world and a fun series. And adding in the historical fiction and steampunk elements actually makes it all work. It seems like a strange combination of genres, but there you go. Love it.

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