Saturday, November 30, 2013

Review: Clockwork Angel

Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
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.
My Review:
The wait for the next book in the Mortal Instruments seems to be endless so I decided to try Cassandra Clare's prequel series, The Infernal Devices.  I must say... I loved it.  I am completely hooked and plan to grab the next book in the series immediately to see what happens next.

The history/background I got from the Mortal Instruments series made starting this set easier.  I already knew what The Institute was, that Shadowhunters feel themselves to be superior to Downworlders, and that each group dislikes the other.  Familiar characters emerged almost immediately and it was fun to see a younger version of them and how different their life was.  The main characters, Tessa, Will, Jem, Jessamine, Sophia, Thomas, Charlotte, and Henry, all live at the Institute and all have engaging back stories.

Tessa and Will are the central focus.  Tessa was taken captive by the Dark sisters at the beginning of the story and finds out what she can do.  Once rescued and taken to the Institute, she tries desperately to figure out how she became what she is, and how she fits into this new, dark world.  As for Will, well, except for a few brief glimpses of emotion, Will is a closed book.  We learn a bit about how he came to live at the Institute but there are still many unanswered questions.  Will and Tessa come close to being together but Will shuts her out each time a moment presents itself.  Even at the end of the book, we still don't know his secrets or why he keeps pushing Tessa away.  Inquiring minds want to know! Which is why I will be starting the next book this evening even though it is way past my bedtime.  I have a hunch....

I found it refreshing and a bit humorous how Tessa reacts to the Shadowhunter way of life.  Since the story is set in the 1800's, she believes that women do not engage in such activities as fighting, that they should not be wearing trousers, and that they are basically the weaker sex.  She is amazed that Charlotte and Jessamine (when forced) are able to use weapons and protect themselves.  As Tessa is repeatedly thrown into dangerous situations, she must act like a fighter in order to survive and finds herself appalled at first, but then almost elated that she is able to contribute and survive the perils around her and her new family.   At the conclusion of story, she is so courageous and clever that you almost wouldn't recognize her anymore.

No spoilers so I am going to stop there.  Clockwork Angel had a good deal of action.  At one point, I thought for sure Tessa would be captured a second time, but I was wrong.  I also really liked the twist in the story.  It didn't come until I got closer to the end but it was a good one!  I wasn't expecting things to happen the way they did but the events will allow the story to meander down a few different paths as it continues.

If I had an official rating system, Clockwork Angel would get 5 stars.  It was THAT good.  :)

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