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, who are 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 that 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 help her 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, who 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 saving the world... and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. (from inside flap)
I absolutely adored The Mortal Instruments trilogy, and it's probably one of my top favorite series of all time. When I heard that Cassandra Clare was going to keep writing about the Shadowhunter world, but this time set it in Victorian England, I was ecstatic. I love historical fiction, and the thought of this world brought to life in the past got me so excited.
I was a little worried that Clockwork Angel would be too much like City of Bones - and it was similiar. We have the protagonist who knows nothing of this secret world, a love interest who uses an unhealthy amount of sarcasm, the search for a family member, the list goes on. But I didn't mind too much because even though certain elements of the plot and characterizations were similar, the setting and time make the book a lot different. And even with these similarities, by the end I could see that Tessa was not Clary, Will was not Jace, Jem was definitely not Alec and so on, even if their characters play similar roles.
Regardless, I loved Clockwork Angel so much. I was so glad to be back in the Shadowhunter world, but this time with a new mystery, that of the creepy Magister. There were a lot of twists and turns, and by the end, everything I thought I knew was wrong. Cassandra Clare continues to amaze me with her flawless world-building, witty dialogue, interesting narration, and a healthy dose of action and suspense. The fact that all this was happening in Victorian London gave everything a gothic feel and I imagined all the characters fighting demons in tophats and fancy suits - which was pretty awesome.
As for the characters, Tessa was really interesting because she is not a Shadowhunter, but a Downworlder, even though technically the Clave has yet to discover exactly what she is. Throughout the novel, she struggles with the fact that she might not be human, but remains a strong and bright heroine regardless of her birth. I loved the fact that Tessa enjoyed reading, and would often quote famous literature or poetry. I also found myself drawn to Will, who gets more face time in the novel than Jem. Like Jace, he is the sarcastic and funny character, but he definitely seems to be hiding something very dark. And that cliffhanger! How will I be able to wait until September to find out what happens to everyone?
Clockwork Angel was an excellent debut to a hopeful new trilogy - one that combines fantasy with history in a splendid novel. I cannot wait to read more about Tessa and will be wistfully counting the days until Clockwork Prince is released.
Rating: 10 out of 10!
FTC: Christmas gift.
2010/Margaret K. McElderberry/479 pages.