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YA, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, 476 pages, Margaret K. McElderry
- Series: First book in the Infernal Devices trilogy
- Pub date: August 31st 2010
- Disclosure: Got a copy for Christmas. My family is awesome. Thanks, guys!
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.The Long...
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.
Confession time: thus far, Clockwork Angel is only the second Cassandra Clare novel I have ever tried. I bought City of Bones two years ago, promptly devoured it, and then forgot about it just as promptly. If I'd bought the Mortal Instruments series together, if I'd tried to be a grown-up uber-reviewer less, if I'd simply paid more attention, I'd probably be just as sucked into the series as everyone else in the book blogging world seems to be. But, alas: I am not.
Still, I am a Cassandra Clare swimfan on Twitter and Tumblr, so I thought it was about time I gave The Infernal Devices--prequel to The Mortal Instruments--at try. And in the interest of pure, popcorny, delicious entertainment, I'm glad I did.
I can't say Clare's worldbuilding is particularly engaging. With the exception of Magnus Bane and his vampiric, vindictive lover, I can't say her characters are anything special, either, and her prose is so long-winded it borders on purple. Where she succeeds with flying colors, however, is in crafting a simple plot that's a delight to get sucked into. My difficulties with so much amateur paranormal romance and fantasy almost always arise from a contrived, overwrought plot--but Clockwork Angel doesn't bother with that. It gets straight to the action, the intrigue, the betrayals, the love triangle, and after reading so many high-concept novels that failed utterly last year, that kind of straightforwardness is a welcome break.
It bears saying again: easily the best character and most intriguing subplot of this novel was Magnus Bane and his general snark and meddling. I would read a spin-off series based entirely around Magnus Bane and his various escapades in a heartbeat. He's one of the most honest and nuanced bisexual characters I've ever read, especially in YA, and I can't give enough kudos to Clare for that.
In the end, I guess I don't have much to say about this book. It was great fun. I laughed, I bit my nails, I stayed up late to finish it. It didn't impart any life lessons, and it didn't leave me gasping for the next book. I'm sure I'll pick up Clockwork Prince at some point, but I'm in no hurry, and that's okay. This series will always be there when I need a good escape from the world, and sometimes, that's all I ask for.
...and the Short:
A deliciously escapist read that didn't set my heart racing, but certainly made for a great night curled up under the covers with a flashlight.
The Final Word: Liked it.