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.
Discovery: I received an ARC of Clockwork Prince (Book 2) from Simon & Schuster so I (cautiously) decided to give The Infernal Devices a try.
+ Clear and concise writing. One of the things I found most difficult to get past with The Mortal Instruments was Clare’s tendency to go on and on with her sentences. Nothing against long sentences, but the paragraphs are chunks of text and it becomes tedious to read very quickly. Clockwork Angel still features plenty of drawn-out paragraphs, but the variety of structures makes reading much easier. Similes and metaphors aren’t used as often, as is only right, and I found that the story had more of a pleasant rhythm as I went on. The pacing itself wasn’t as great, but I’ll talk more about that below.
+ Interesting cast of supporting characters. One thing I’ve always felt Clare does well is flesh out great supporting characters. They may be tropes, but they’re fun tropes, ones that people enjoy reading about. I did notice similarities to City of Bones in the way that Tessa is introduced to the Shadowhunters, but I do genuinely like the characters she’s crafted for this prequel. Charlotte and Henry are delightful together and Jessamine makes my skin crawl a little. Don’t get me started on Jem Carstairs or we’ll be here all night. (Spoiler: I like him way more than I probably should.)
- Pacing. Cassandra Clare writes thick books, where a lot of things happen. I get it. But it took me three days to get through this book, two days more than what I usually need to read a 500-page novel, and a lot of that has to do with the pacing. There were chapters where the action moved so quickly, you could get whiplash, and others in which I had to force myself to keep reading. This is the fourth Cassandra Clare book I’ve read, and I’ve had this problem with every single one. I did see a lot of words and phrases that could have been left out without doing any damage to the story. It’s not so much the content, but how it’s written out that bothers me.
- Similarities to fanfiction. Those of you who adore her books: please don’t egg me for what I’m about to say. Before I read City of Bones, I knew about Clare’s past in fanfiction. That in itself doesn’t bother me. I believe I even mentioned it in my review of CoB. What grates on my nerves a little is how it seems as though she is simply recycling her old characters from HP fanfiction to fit into the molds she’s created for this story. I don’t see it so much with the supporting characters, but Will and Tessa aren’t anything new to me. I think it’s this parallelism that keeps me from liking either of them, which is disappointing.
Recommendations: As I read this book cautiously, so do I recommend it. Wide readers of YA fiction may not be as impressed as they’d like by the characters, but it was an interesting story and a vast improvement over The Mortal Instruments.
Next review: The Future of Us, Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler