Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.
Taking a George Lucas approach to her Mortal Instruments series, Cassandra Clare takes a step back, introducing us to the world of Shadowhunters and how it all began. Set in London during the Victorian era, we're introduced to Tessa Gray, an American overseas, on a quest to find her brother - her last known living relative - after the recent death of her Aunt.
While not a huge fan of historical fiction - mostly because of the damsel in distress personalities the female characters tend to have - I was happy to see our heroine provide some much needed attitude to what I had assumed was going to be a rather passive role at first. Tessa still demonstrated proper lady-like manners for the setting, but I loved that she was just as quick to the punch, to all of Will's quips - rightfully earning her own place in the story.
And as for Will - he's dark haired and blue eyed...a true weakness for me indeed. However, in typical Clare fashion, she's managed to run his personal dark side (aka A-holic tendencies) the entire length of the story, never quite allowing for he and Tessa to be together. Like in all of the Mortal Instrument books, there came a point where I was just frustrated with how many ways she could make Jace and Clary have yet another issue (well, it was usually always Jace that had the issue) - and you can see this stems from Will, considering his last name is Herondale...making him one of Jace's ancestors. I love the idea of the back and forth between relationships and characters - but to take several books to get them where they're ultimately headed, is almost too much for me.
While the first half of the story moved a little slow - Clare took her time building the world around Tessa and introducing us to many of the family names and places you've come to know from the MI series. However, if you haven't read the MI series first, I think you'd have a tough time putting everything together.
Things definitely picked up by the second half - a little more action, more of the Shadowhunter world unfolding around us, and my favorite, the introduction of Magnus Bane - one of my favorite characters from the MI series. I like how Clare is weaving the story lines together, while introducing us to new paths as well - and of course, ending it all with yet another cliff hanger.
Net/net: I'd still recommend reading the MI series first, before starting on this one. It did tend to be a bit slow in places - but I enjoyed how the connections were made to the characters we have grown to love in Clare's other books. Solid read.
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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare