by Cassandra Clare
Ages: 14 and up
Book 1 of the Infernal Devices, prequel series to the Mortal Instruments
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 gas-lit 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.
I loved this book. I picked it up because of the gorgeous cover and because I had heard that it was steampunk. Other than that, I had no idea what I was getting into. I blame this book for the fact that I now read the occasional vampire/werewolf/paranormal novel. By the time I realized that vampires were going to play an important role in the story, it was too late. I was caught. Doomed. I couldn't put it down and before I knew it I was addicted to the works of Cassandra Clare.
Tessa is an absolutely brilliant character. I love the mix of proper ladylike behavior and stubborn bravery. I love the way she loves classical literature and references it all the time. I also love the fact that Will knows all of her references and makes his own.
Will is an extremely dubious fellow. Darkly handsome and mysterious, plus the fact that he is British, well, Welsh anyway, he is an interesting character. The problem is, he also a total jerk. For some hidden reason, he won't let anyone close, and is horrible to anyone who tries. Still, there is hope for him, revealed in brief flashes of tenderness and humanity.
The secondary characters in Clockwork Angel are lovely. Jem, Sophie, and even the bratty Jessamine are all interesting and likable in their own ways. I loved Henry. I would have liked to see more of him, but there is always book two...
The plot is dark with a delightfully dreary, Victorian feel to it. Murders, disappearances, strange magical abilities, untrustworthy businessmen, equally untrustworthy Downworlders and some extremely irritating Shadowhunters combine to make an adventure that is part Charles Dickens, part Sherlock Holmes, part...actually, I can't think of any other paranormal author that can quite be compared to Cassandra Clare. Anyway, it is wonderful.
I recommend this book to lovers of dark fantasy, YA paranormal, Victorian mysteries and star-crossed lovers. My only real problem with this book is the fact that Clockwork Prince doesn't come out until December. (Grr.)
Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).
I give this book a 4.10 for some middle-level swearing and insults.
This book gets a 2.10 for some references and innuendos.
There are several scenes of violence and murder in this novel, so I rate it a 7.10.