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!