Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Having worked her magic in producing The Mortal Instruments series, Cassandra Clare wrote The Infernal Devices Trilogy. Clockwork Angel is the first in the prequel series set in the world of Shadowhunters, warlocks, vampires and other supernatural creatures.

Set in 1878, 16-year-old New Yorker Tessa travels to London to find her brother but is instead kidnapped by the dangerous Dark Sisters. Discovering that she has supernatural powers that she never knew she existed, the Dark Sisters intend to use her powers and give her to a mysterious figure known only as The Magister.  Rescued by two Shadowhunters, Will and Jem, and having to take refuge at the Institute, Tessa must learn about her own powers and rescue her missing brother.

Transporting the action to Victorian London helps give Clockwork Angel a fresh take on Clare’s Shadowhunter world. The role of women in this era and the sexism they encounter provides the characters with additional elements to work through. It’s interesting to see how the women themselves develop throughout the novel as they have grown up seeing themselves as fulfilling a certain stereotypical role and then having to cope with the knowledge of being different. It was good seeing how both Tessa and Shadowhunter Jessamine try to deal with this new side of them (or in Jessamine’s case attempt to ignore it completely). I also liked how we were shown that the Head of the Institute Charlotte faces obstacles purely due to her gender.

The story is quick paced, full of action and plot twists, while also sparing plenty of time for themes on identity and for romantic developments as Tessa is drawn to both Will and Jem (I think the confident and womanising Will is meant to be the main romantic love interest but personally I prefer the more sensitive Jem).  Having Tessa as a Downworlder rather than a Shadowhunter also gives the novel a different perspective as it separates her from both Shadowhunter and humans (or mundanes as the Shadowhunters patronisingly refers to us as) alike. It was also great having characters like fan favourite Bane from The Mortal Instrument series turn up.

Sometimes the characters can still feel too similar to their counterparts in The Mortal Instrument series. Tessa has a mysterious heritage just like Clary and had no idea of her abilities or the supernatural before the novel took place. Will is also a bit too similar to Jace for my liking. Hopefully though the characters will develop further and have more distinct personalities of their own as the trilogy progresses.

Overall this is a book series that should appeal to those who enjoyed The Mortal Instrument Series and newcomers to the Shadowhunters realm.  I for one look forward to reading the next instalment.

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