Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Date Published: August 31, 2010
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.
I always get a thrill when I start a brand new story for the first time. Whether it be a new series or just a stand-alone story, I always find myself caught in a state of wonder before turning to page one. The feeling multiplies when I get my hands on a new Cassandra Clare novel. Granted, it took me a while to get to this one because at the time of its release, I had still not yet finished City of Glass.
After it's release and subsequent shelving, I found myself drifting away into other stories, other worlds, but awaiting the day when I could come back to the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders. I was especially excited for this one because, while it contained the same beings, the characters and settings were all new. Victorian England. The time of over the top style and no electricity. So basically hell for us modern internet-centric humans.
I finally got around to reading this a few weeks ago when Mundie Moms hosted a Clockwork Angel Readathon. The rules were to read one chapter per night that way the next day we could discuss in the comments the previous chapter. While I stuck with the plan for a while, I viewed these more as guidelines as the story progressed. I just couldn't stop reading at points and would find myself three or four chapters ahead of the readathon. By then, I didn't care, I had to keep on going. And it was such a satisfying read.
In my ignorant pre-Infernal Devices mind, I was thinking it would bear many similarities to the Mortal Instruments series. Basically the same characters with new identities. Which is true in a sense, but far off from my small mindedness. Yes, there is a strong lead female that is a teenager. Yes, there are two worthy boys pining after her. Yes, one of them is very Jace-like in his personality (at first). But that was just my mind connecting the dots between the two series. Within the first chapter, I was totally convinced that I was wrong in thinking that.
I love Tessa as a lead, though the mystery of what she is is so mysterious. Her falling for two boys is understandable given the nature of the two. Will, the strong, forward, boast of a boy with a heart lined with steel. Jem, the compassionate, soft-spoken boy who is always a friend first and everything else second. Another thing I loved was the connection of the London Institute. Especially compared to the New York Institute from TMI series.
The London Institute valued the family. Even though none of them were related by blood, their familial ties ran deeper. They worked together, ate together, and were generally more open to conversation than I found with TMI. The Lightwoods were in Idris for most of the first book and even when they were there they were locked up in the library or elsewhere. Hodge was the main adult presence there and we all know how well that turned out.
I liked the fact that, though in Victorian England, the Shadowhunters don't follow the cultural "norm". Yes, they sometimes wear poofy dresses and attend fancy parties, but the ideology was shifted. Women could hold the positions of men, as shown by Charlotte running the Institute. There was less segregation when it came to Shadowhunter ideals, which was nice to read. Even though it was fiction, it was nice to think some people back then could've been so open-minded.
I loved the plot progression in this and the climax was brilliant. Great action, great characters-- This is a new standard for Cassie Clare books. She continues to raise the bar for herself.