Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young adult – Urban fantasy/supernatural
Published by: Walker Books Ltd in 2010
Synopsis on Goodreads:
“London, 1878. 16-year-old Tessa Gray’s priority should be finding her brother, not falling in love with two boys. She is soon caught in a dangerous love triangle where a wrong decision could prove fatal. Tessa will need all her strength to save her brother & stay alive as she learns about what really lurks on London’s streets after dark.”
I had quite mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, as always, I loved the Shadowhunter world but on the other, I was really not that fond of our protagonist, Tessa and the rather notorious love interest, William Herondale.
I’m not sure why, but for some reason, I can never seem to connect to the leading ladies of Clare’s novels. Whilst I’m not too fond of Tessa, I really disliked Clary and it is such a shame. Espcially since it really effects the entire enjoyment of a novel for me and brings my ratings hurtling down.
But back to The Infernal Devices, I’m just not too sure who Tessa really is. She didn’t feel like a fully-fleshed-out character and thus felt quite flat and deeply fictiousess. Tessa wasn’t complex at all and, although she did develop as a character as the book progressed, I still wasn’t completely sold on her feeling like a three-dimensional person.
I particularly disliked her views of women and girls and their roles in society (and don’t even get me started on Jessamine! Although I’m sure she’ll have a redeeming character arc throughout the series). For example, towards the beginning of the novel, Tessa is practically appalled that there are female Shadowhunters that fight just the same as their male counterparts. I mean, I understand that even women were indoctrinated into having these anochronistic patriarchical views in these times but Tessa was an avid reader and, surely, if she was reading about people having all these adventures, she’d perhaps take some initiative and not allow herself to be manipulated by mainstream societal views. Thankfully, though, Tessa did manage to grow out of such horrific views as the book progressed and managed to atone to an extent.
There were a few redeeming qualities about Tessa, however. I enjoyed the way she handled Will (and Will, being the immature child that he is, most certainly needed to be handled) and when she was more or less telling him off; those were some of her best moments. I like that she didn’t always put up with his bullshit (although it does annoy me that she had any feelings for him at all the way he is with her).
But, I think, the moment where Tessa was meant to have shown the depth of her strength (chapter 19) is where, finally, she stood out for me. Her actions showed that she had courage and great potential for strategic thinking. Hopefully we’ll see more of this version of Tessa in the future instalments. I’ll definitely warm to her then.
The supporting cast of characters definitely felt far more complex to me than our MC did.
Will, irritating as he is, definitely has the whole tragically complicated backstory going on for him which automatically makes him an intersting character to read about. Although, having a haunted past in no way excuses Will’s poor behaviour. I really wanted to like Will and sometimes I did; he was quick-witted and had a great, compelling relationship with Jem. But he had such a mean streak and that really put me off of him. Maybe he’ll get better at not being such an arsehole as the series goes on?
And then there is Jem. Oh, my sweet, kind, adorbale Jem. He is the imbodiment of everything I could ever want in a partner. And the complete opposite, in some ways, to Will. Jem also has had a difficult life and has been through a lot (and continues to do so) but he doesn’t feel entitled to treat everyone else like crap. He is thoughtful, calm and precise with his words and has a wonderful way of getting the most from people by making them feel at ease. Take this dialogue, for example:
“Whatever you are physically, male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy – all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. Whatever the colour, the shape, the design of the shade that conceals it, the flame inside the lamp remains the same. You are that flame.”
Jem, also, is so respectful of Tessa and genuinely cares for her and he really does give the best advice/words of wisdom: “It is a great thing to love as it is to be loved. Love is not something that can be wasted.” I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from Jem from reading this!
Charlotte is another one of my favourites. I admire how tough she is and how strong she is for always having to prove herself, that she is just as capable as any male Shadowhunter: “As a woman, she must fight to be heard, and even then her decisions are second-guessed. […] She feels she has no freedom to make a mistake.” I felt like I could very easily relate to Charlotte and she was a much needed inspiration to Tessa to help her change her views.
In relation to the setting, I really enjoyed the Victorian London backdrop (as I enjoy reading anything from this era) but it did feel at times as though Clare was simply mentioning a particular building or street of interest in passing, rather than really describing what Victorian London felt like. Her descriptions did leave for something to be desired.
Finally, the plot itself, whilst relatively fast-paced with quite a fair amount of action, was actually kind of predictable. Particularly concerning one of the major plot twists – it was pretty darn obvious. But the Shadowhunter world, as always, was very intriguing and a lot of fun and I enjoyed the new aspects of the world we got to learn about in this book.
Overall, I would still recommend this, especially for all Shadowhunter fans. It was a fun, enjoyable read with a few flaws that didn’t really distract from the story too much. I will definitely be carrying on with this series and I have a sneaking suspicion that I will end up loving this series more and more as it goes on.