Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Updated: Feb 20
“Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.”
It’s 1878, and the Shadowhunters are doing what they do best—killing demons. Meanwhile, Tessa Gray arrives on a boat from America to join her brother in London after their aunt dies. She becomes drawn into the world of the supernatural.
I am glad I delved into this trilogy long before I planned to. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare is the first book in The Infernal Devices trilogy, which is part of the larger Shadowhunters series.
I saw the synopsis of this book a long time ago and thought if I ever read Cassandra Clare, I’m going to start with Clockwork Angel. Visiting a 19th century London where vampires, warlocks and demon hunters lurk sounded like so much fun.
Unfortunately, it was lost in my never-ending to-be-read pile, until a good friend suggested I read The Mortal Instruments series (also part of the Shadowhunters). I was about to begin reading the final book in TMI, when I saw someone’s suggestion to read The Infernal Devices first (oh, that’s right—that other awesome looking series!) and so—here I am (Wow, I didn’t think my journey for this book would be that long).
I liked how at home I felt coming into this book. It’s set in a different era and country from The Mortal Instruments, but there are so many familiar names and places: The Institute, The Pandemonium Club, The Enclave. Also, names such as Lightwood and Herondale give homage to their future family members. It was fun to see Magnus Bane and Lady Camille Belcourt being their 19th-century selves.
Readers starting out, or even continuing on with the Shadowhunters series will appreciate the additional information given about the Shadowhunter’s law, which isn’t officially stated in (but is usually suggested) in TMI. Such as—why Shadowhunters choose to use blades rather than other weapons.
Cassandra Clare did a great job at describing the atmosphere of London during this time —it took me back to Sherlock Holmes etc.
“You know," Gabriel said, "there was a time I thought we could be friends, Will."
"There was a time I thought I was a ferret," Will said, "but that turned out to be the opium haze. Did you know it had that effect? Because I didn't.”
There was almost a steampunk vibe as well (I’d say more, but….no spoilers). I was a little disappointed not to see more of London, but am looking forward to expanding the locations with the other two books to come. There is a distinct difference in this series as Clare has kept accurate to the language and social interactions of the era, which provided some interesting moments.
I also liked the inclusion of the mundanes (normal humans) gravitation towards discovering the supernatural, which the Victorians were famous for studying.
The characters were unique, interesting and humorous, but it was harder to relate to Tessa, as compared to Clary Fray (from TMI). We didn’t get to see her immersed in her everyday life at the beginning (which I know wasn’t very possible as she had nothing to go back to). I’m looking forward to learning more about Will, Jem and Jessamine in the next book, as I felt similarly about them as I did with Tessa on less of a level.
It was lovely how books drew Tessa and Will together. It was refreshing to read their comments about books intertwining with the main plots.
“Sometimes, when I have to do something I don't want to do, I pretend I'm a character from a book. It's easier to know what they would do.”
There were plenty of twists and turns—a majority were in the final couple of chapters, but there were enough along the way to keep it interesting.
This series is a pleasant sidestep from TMI, with both new and familiar aspects. I hope that London will eventually give Tessa her New York summer day.
Read: March 2019