London’s Downworld isn’t always a safe place, especially for a human in 1878. Filled with its own magical brands of vice and iniquity and all manner of unexpected creatures from vampires to warlocks the Downworld is, in fact, almost never safe.
Only Shadowhunters, warriors trained to fight demons, stand between the human world and the Downworld’s myriad dangers.
Orphaned and penniless, sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray knows nothing of London’s Downworld or Shadowhunters. Newly arrived in England, she is eager to reunite with her brother. But Nathaniel never comes to collect her. Instead she is taken in by the mysterious Dark Sisters. Imprisoned and alone, Tessa learns more than she ever wanted to know about the Downworld, including her own strange ability.
Everyone seems to want something from Tessa. The Dark Sisters want her to use her power. A shadowy figure called the Magister seems to need her. The Shadowhunters want her help. All Tessa wants is to find her brother and to forget all about the Downworld and her own place in it . . . even if it would mean forgetting about William Herondale and James Carstairs, two Shadowhunters with their own inner demons to battle.
But Tessa can’t forget any of it.
Clockwork Angel is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s new Infernal Devices trilogy. The Infernal Devices is meant to be a companion/prequel to The Mortal Instruments (Clare’s bestselling trilogy that first introduced readers to the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders in modern times). The books are all meant to complement each other with references to family names and shared characters, but Clockwork Angel stands alone.
Clockwork Angel is also exceptional. A little fantasy, a little steampunk, and a lot of period atmosphere come together to create a full immersion reading experience. Clare evokes Tessa’s London as expertly as she brings her charming characters to life including memorable secondary characters with their own complexities and motivations.
Tessa is an utterly engaging heroine who is as fearless as she is guileless. Will* and Jem are the perfect foils to Tessa (and each other). Fans of The Mortal Instruments will find a world of new characters with a very familiar wit and verve. Gripping and rich, Clockwork Angel will hold readers’ attention from the first page to the very last leaving many eager for the next book in The Infernal Devices.
*Will is the character on the cover. It is one of my favorite covers. Ever. Which is why it’s huge in this post.
Possible Pairings: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey, Sabriel by Garth Nix, Mister Monday by Garth Nix, Snowfall by K. M. Peyton, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas, The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Exclusive Bonus Content: I was very lucky to be able to attend Simon and Schuster’s Fall 2010 preview thanks to one of my lovely professors from library school. At the preview I was fortunate to not only see Cassandra Clare talking about this book but also to receive a very advanced bound manuscript of Clockwork Angel (it’s like one step earlier than a regular advanced reader’s copy and is the coolest thing in the entire world because on top of that it’s signed!). I, of course, had to read it immediately since Clockwork Angel is the one 2010 title that I have literally been looking forward to since last year. So great was my excitement, dear readers, that I had to break the cardinal rule of reviewing and post this review right after I read it instead of waiting for the August 31 publication date so that you too could share in my excitement as soon as possible.
UPDATE 8/21/10: The official trailer for Clockwork Angel is finally out! You should go watch it. Right now. It’s one of my favorite book trailers. I love the symbols that appear. I love the scene with Jessamine and her parasol (straight from the book) and Will and Jem and Tessa. The ending is awesome too. I’ve already read the book and it makes me excited about it.