I wish you, estimate readers, the most wonderful holidays. Have fun with loved ones, family, friends, relatives, and pets! Here is my Silent Night for you.
I have been praising Cassandra Clare for so long that it seems just right to finally write something about her latest endeavor, the highly anticipated Clockwork Angel, first installation in The Infernal Devices’ trilogy which is also a prequel for the Mortal Instruments’ series. Clockwork Angel is set in the Victorian London with some steampunk elements. Tessa Gray is a young lady who is forced to leave New York after the untimely death of her aunt, and comes to London to be reunited with her brother Nathaniel, who has sent for her. Much to her surprise, Tessa is welcomed in London by two unforgiving women, the Dark Sisters, who proclaim to be Nathaniel’s friend. Tessa’s fate takes a turn for the worse when she soon discovers that not only her brother is nowhere to be seen, but that the Dark Sisters have set their minds to teach her how to use a power she doesn’t know she has. Tessa endures the tortures and the painful lessons only because the Dark Sisters have threatened to kill Nathaniel. After several weeks of imprisonment, and at the eve of being given in marriage to an obscure entity called the Magister, Tessa is saved by Will Herondale, a young shadowhunter from the London’s Institute. Shadowhunters are Nephilims , a race of human-angel hybrids created by the angel Raziel with the purpose of defending humanity from the demons hordes. Will finds Tessa while investigating a series of murders committed by demons that has left a trail of human victims through London. Tessa is granted asylum at the Institute by Charlotte, a strong willed shadowhunter who is married to Henry, brilliant inventor unaware of the rest of the world, and with different degrees of complacency by the rest of the Institutes’ inhabitants. Tessa will grow attached to the pale sickness-ridden Jem and his kind soul, and she will also learn to tolerate beautiful and spoiled Jessamine who doesn’t want to be a warrior. But she will fall in love with Will, who has a dark reputation and a tormented soul and who seems to care for nobody, but Jem. Tessa is helped by the rest of the shadowhunters to find her brother Nathaniel, while at the same time helping them using her power to find the Magister. In the process of honing her unique skill to change her appearance at pleasure, Tessa comes to understand what entails to be a downworlder, half-human and half-demon. As usual in Cassandra Clare’s works, I enjoyed the character building and the witty dialogues, as much as the plot. Cassandra Clare has an uncanny ability to draw characters who are at the same time funny and tragic. When Tessa at the beginning of the story is being rescued by Will from the Dark Sisters, she corrects him on hell being cold, according to Dante’s Inferno, and not hot as Will has just stated. The whole scene is hilarious because it is inserted in the middle of fast paced action, and the timing is perfect. In another section of the novel, much later in the story, Jem reassures Tessa about her worries of being a monster, the spawn of human and demon. He says to her that she is what she feels she is. “If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. Whatever the color, the shape, the design of the shade that conceals it, the flame inside the lamp remains the same. You are that flame.” The setting of the Clockwork Angel, the prosperous Victorian London, shared by downworlders and nephilims who hide their presence from the humans, deserves a mention by itself. The city is another living character in the novel, it has a personality, and it shapes the story. The clockwork army unleashed by the Magister and roaming the streets of London adds the steampunk element that make the depiction of the city even more interesting. Since the Infernal Devices’ series is set in a complete different and earlier era than the Mortal Instruments’ one, they can be read independently. Although I didn’t do it, since the prequel got written and published after the Mortal Instruments’ series, I suggest to read the books in their chronological order just because there are characters who show up in both series. It also makes easier to understand the complex world Cassandra Clare invented . After having read Clockwork Angel, I am now waiting for the next two books in the series to come out with even greater anticipation. Unfortunately it is not going to be yesterday, as I fervently wished. Clockwork Prince will be released September 2011; and Clockwork Princess, November/December 2012. Meanwhile I still have the City of Fallen Angels, the fourth in the Mortal Instruments’ series, to look forward in exact 106 days.
Keep reading, it’s healthy!
Several hours of adding pixels and here it is. Because of its size, it is the most time consuming Art Rage project I have undertaken. I feel that there are dozens of details missing, but I had to end it at some point. This is it. The Point.
I am always excited to find a great author. As I said in my previous post, I liked a pep talk written by Holly Black for Nanowrimo, and I checked out several of her books. I am overjoyed to announce that White Cat, the first installment in The Curse Workers’ series, is getting a place of honor in my favorite books’ list. White Cat is narrated in the first person/present tense, which is a tough one to pull off, by Cassel Sharpe. He is a lonely teenager, coming from a family of curse workers and aspiring only to fix his sleepwalking problem to be reaccepted at his private school. Cassel refuses to have normal social relationships because he is hiding a terrible truth, and doesn’t think he deserves more from life than misery. Being the only non worker in his family he feels rejected by his own brothers, and would like more than anything else to be trusted by them. With his mother in prison, and a grandfather who doesn’t seem completely reliable, Cassel is left to fend for himself while he tries to make sense of how he could have killed Lila, the girl he loved. The whole story takes place in an alternate universe where curse workers, people born with magical powers, are outlawed and hunted. Everybody is forced to wear gloves, since the curses are worked by skin touching. I particularly like when an author is able to create a universe that is structured by specific socio-economic rules, and Holly Black has done an excellent job with the curse workers’ world. The scene where Cassel blushes at the sight of his sister in law’s naked hands is a perfect example of how deep is said world. White Cat has witty dialogues, a smart plot, and an incredible ending that will make you talk about it long after you have finished reading the book. Waiting impatiently for Red Glove to come out next April.
Every year accomplished authors write pep-talks for Nanowriters (Nanowrimo’s aficionados, slightly cuckoo in the head) like me. This year one of the pep-talk I liked the most was written by Holly Black. Driven by sudden inspiration I checked out few of her books and I found the Good Neighbors’ series. I have already read Kin and Kith without blinking my eyes once, and I can’t wait to read the third and final installment that just came out, Kind. I didn’t know that they were comic books, and I was pleasantly surprised by discovering Ted Naifeh, who is the illustrator. The Good Neighbors narrates the story of a teenage girl, Rue, who has always seen things out of the ordinary, but has never thought about it until tragedy wreaks havoc in her life. Rue’s mother disappears for several days after an altercation with her father. Her father is accused of having murdered his wife and another young woman who was one of his student. Rues discovers the truth behind her mother’s disappearance when, while trying to put together bits and pieces of her scattered life, the fairies reveal to her that she is one of them. Rues is forced to confront blood ties she would have never thought real, and a reality which is not a fairy tale. As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough by itself. I particularly liked Holly Black’s dark narration and the eerie qualities of Ted Naifeh’s art. I am now officially hooked on fairies’ stories. But only if they are bad, the fairies, not the stories.
I live in the most nurturing environment for an aspiring writer. Not only the Northwest is moody enough to evoke vampires and werewolves without having to wait for the darkness of the night. But when November comes even the King County Library System (my personal pusher when, as a self diagnosed ECReader, I need my book-fix) comes out to help nanowriters in distress. This year KCLS has organized seminars about the complex art of writing, editing, drawing cartoons, and even how to deal with zombies in your novel. I am ashamed to confess that I didn’t go to any of them. It wasn’t premeditated though. I did sign on a piece of paper all the dates I was most interested in. Then life, in the form of Thanksgiving’s dinner and adverse weather conditions, made me stay home. I know, it’s the adult equivalent of dog-ate-my-homework excuse, but what can I say? I am an adult, and I can’t use the same excuse twice. The moral of this tale is clear. I still don’t have zombies in my stories. Nevertheless they are all the rage right now, and I should have gone to at least that seminar. Next year I promise not to sleep during the whole month of November, so I can go to seminars during the day, and write at night. It sounds like a solid plan, especially if I get to sleep through October. Maybe I can even start now. Sleeping, I mean. Anyway, I did finish my 50,000 words’ novel, and I am proud to announce that as prequels go, I have to change names and facts in the sequel I am currently still writing. All in all, a big confusion inside my head. Maybe zombies didn’t make an apparition in my writing, but they ate my brain…food for thoughts?