Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare


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.


Richly developed characters, strong writing, and another whirlwind plot make The Clockwork Angel kick off this trilogy in a powerful way. It easily lives up to the expectations set by The Mortal Instruments series, and is written in a way that isn't boring for someone who's read those books to get the Shadowhunter lore again while still revealing everything in a way that wouldn't confuse someone who hasn't.

Tessa has a strong voice and a fantastic mindset to explore and get to know. Her American ways clash nicely with those of the everyone at the Institute, now used to living in London. Add in her her views on how servants should act and be treated and the overall ladylike air she maintains, and Tessa is a refreshing protagonist. Tessa goes through tremendous personal growth throughout this book and her struggles with not only learning the truth about what she is but also being plunged into the Shadowhunter world carry a strong arc. Despite the time period and nature of her struggles, Tessa is still facing her own terms of growing up and expanding her world view and beliefs and Clare easily nails the entire process. Also notable, since Tessa is not a Shadowhunter, she does help in the battles that come up and takes on the damsel in distress type of air. Despite her inherent weakness in this regard, Tessa is still a strong, bold, lively character that has a few punches of her own to throw when needed.

Will is egotistical, closed off, and seemingly self centered. He is straight forward and blunt and full of dry wit and flat humor. He has a quip for most everything and uses his words to keep everyone at a distance. On the surface, Will is a good looking boy and a fantastic fighter but holds little else of interest. Underneath that facade, however, lurks hints of something much deeper. With only glimpses into his past and a few sections centered on his mind, the air around Will stays thickly coated even at the close of this book. Despite this, however, his motivations in most things are still revealed and his camaraderie with Jem adds a fantastic element.

Jem is almost the completely opposite of Will. Though he can keep up with the banter and has a few quips of his own, he is quite, sweet, and has a certain intensity about him that stands out in a different way than the coiled, ready to spring intensity that surrounds Will. Also a well trained fighter and a great partner for Will in battle, Jem has his kick butt side but throughout much of this book, he holds a softer presence. The two have a strong, deep rooted relationship despite their differences

Jessamine holds a much smaller part despite being involved in many scenes. Her views on the Shadowhunter world contrast Will and Jem's and though she is a haughty air about her, as with many of her other immediately disliked characters, Clare has weaved in sympathy and understanding towards her mindset and views. In another setting, Jessamine could be a fantastic character and is simply dealing with everything in her own way. Henry and Charlotte also have a very strong presence throughout the book, and both characters are well developed and passionate about their own things. Henry is especially appealing, similar to a loyal, adoring puppy that is the runt of the litter and lost in the clouds. He is a typical inventor with so many things going on in his head at once he comes off as missing a few screws. His relationship with Charlotte is a beautiful one with a tenderness between them that is there only when looked at long enough. One of the most notable aspects of Clare's writing is the depth and development that goes into every character. Even in the servants Sophie, Agatha and Thomas, this comes through very strongly. Not to mention, the fantastic Magnus Bane makes his own appearance and is as sprightly as ever, simply in a new century.

Building on the fantastic characters is Clare's intense, action packed, and intricate plot. The story itself is refreshing and new even in light of being a prequel. Clare throws some powerful, unexpected turns with plenty of humor along the way. Some of the best humor in YA I've read comes from Cassandra Clare's books and this one is absolutely no different. The majority of the events of this book are tied up and explained, but there are a few loose ends and a final chapter that ratchets up the intrigue and craving for the next installment. The overall plot so far is astounding, in depth and pure brilliance and genius.

Clare's writing is strong and fluid. Despite the time period, it reads easily while still maintaining the London air. The descriptions are vivid and intense, showcasing Clare's mastery of language as well as a very strong inherent ability. The writing alone will draw in the reader but never is it stronger than what needs to be said nor does it distract from the overall story. Clare has nailed the blend between beautiful and enough.

Across the board, Clockwork Angel hits high on the rating charts. From the still defined small and side characters with an in depth view into the minds of Tessa, Will and the like despite the third person perspective to the brilliant plot and masterful playing out of it, Clare has another fantastic hit on her hands.

Source: ARC won from contest
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (August 31, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416975861
ISBN-13: 978-1416975861


  1. I absolutely adored this book---great review!

  2. I completely agree with everything you said! :D

  3. I can't wait to read this. Thanks for the great review!

  4. I'm glad you liked the book! It just makes me anticipate it's release that much more :) Oh, I can't wait to get started!

  5. I simply can't wait to have it, I hate waiting for it to be in Spanish... so... so... I can't finda the word T-T (even in Spanish! haha)

    Great review!

  6. I can't wait till I read this. Great review!

  7. I have heard mixed reviews on this one. I will need to see for my self. hehe. As always great review

  8. This would be one of the most comprehensive reviews I've read so far and has made me deliriously excited about the coming book:)

  9. Gosh, what a fantastic review. You're making me think that I have got to get this book and very, very soon too!

  10. Sounds amazing! I can't wait!