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Review: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare coverTo follow from Tori’s previous review of Clockwork Angel, I have decided to review Clockwork Prince. I enjoy Cassandra Clare’s books as a whole, but The Infernal Devices have captivated me in a way decidedly different to The Mortal Instruments series. In a lot of ways, I find The Infernal Devices easier to relate to. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s very loosely based off Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, or because of the amazing steampunk elements that Cassandra Clare has included, or the connections that her characters have with one another…but whatever it is, it’s brilliant.

In the second book of the trilogy, Tessa remains at the Institute in London in the aftermath of her last encounter with the Magister. The challenges up ahead don’t look promising, with Charlotte and Henry’s position at the Institute placed in jeopardy and someone betraying them from the inside to the Magister, putting Tessa and those that she has grown to care for in danger. A distance has forced itself between her and Will after the events of Clockwork Angel, and she has slowly but surely grown much closer to Jem. Jem, incidentally, already charming and a favourite of mine, is absolutely wonderful in Clockwork Prince. Cassandra Clare really explores the shades of his character well, and some of his interactions with Tessa are absolutely breath-taking.

Tessa herself is really coming into her own and becoming far more sure of herself in terms of what she can say and do, growing into what she’s become and what she may yet grow to be. She is learning to wield her ability to Change into another person (shape-shifting), and she is also displaying willingness to fight against adversity. Tessa has lost her family and even parts of her own identity to get to where she is in Clockwork Prince. To possess the desire to fight against what besets her; despite her own uncertainty about her past and her future, combined with the tangle of her feelings for two very different boys is no mean feat. It’s a pleasure to behold her growth and spell-binding to read. I think Tessa is one of my favourite heroines of recent YA literature; because she is very unique in that she manages to think about what’s happening around her, without being utterly self-centred and considering only how it impacts her. Her exchanges with Jem are lovely and show something wonderful developing between them. Her scenes with Will are incredibly emotionally charged, because everything that he has done previously lies between them and still doesn’t manage to change how they very obviously feel towards one another.

There are some brilliant one-liners from Cassandra Clare as always, but my particular favourite is this one:

“Trains are great dirty smoky things,” said Will. “You won’t like it.”
Tessa was unmoved. “I won’t know if I like it until I try it, will I?”
“I’ve never swum naked in the Thames before, but I know I wouldn’t like it.”
“But think how entertaining for sightseers,” said Tessa, and she saw Jem duck his head to hide the quick flash of his grin.”

That little moment between those three really sums up what I love about their interactions as a whole. However, even taking Tessa’s indomitable nature into account and little gems like the above, the real star of this book is the scenes between Will Herondale and Magnus Bane. Not only does the reader get to see another side to Will, one that is broken and desperate and afraid, we also begin to get to know Magnus on a deeper level. Bearing in mind that Magnus is also in The Mortal Instruments series a century later, you really begin to get a grasp of how much loss Magnus has had to witness and experience, due to being a warlock. Whether it’s personal or watching someone else suffer, it isn’t easy for Magnus to observe and do nothing. Even when told that he can’t save everything and everyone, he responds, “One will do.” That really says a lot about Magnus as a character, and it’s a reason that he’s become one of my favourites in both series. Since warlocks are immortal, Magnus’ experiences also really give you a feel for what Tessa might be up against in the future. Additionally, I really liked seeing a more human side of Will, and this book fully explains his motivations and a lot of his general behaviour up until this point. It was a relief as a reader to have the explanation for that at last. I won’t spoil that part for anyone who hasn’t read, but let’s just say that if you don’t heave the same sigh of relief and sympathy? I’ll be very surprised.

Right, this next bit will contain spoilers. I’m placing it under a more tag, but if you come to this post direct, here is your warning! For those of you who close here, I will be waiting with breathless expectation for Clockwork Princess, though it makes me very sad to think that it will be the last book in this series. I can’t recommend this or Clockwork Angel enough.  Continue reading

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

This is less a review and more of an epic fangirl flail, because you guys, I have it bad. And not just for the snarky boy, Will, who is charming and beautiful but pushes everyone away. Of course, let’s face it, he had me at his line about how the person rescuing you is never wrong, “even if he says the sky is purple and made of hedgehogs”. HOLY BOOK CRUSH. But I love everyone, from Jem, to Jessie, from Henry to Tessa. 

Clockwork Angel is the first book in Clare’s Infernal Devices series, which takes place in the same Shadow Hunter world as her Mortal Instruments series. This is set a hundred or so years sooner and has some cool steampunk like elements, including an evil plot with clockwork automatons.

After Tessa Gray’s aunt dies, her brother sends her a steamer ship ticket across the Atlantic to join him in England. But when she arrives, she’s taken by two women called the Dark Sisters, who reveal to her that she has a very special power – she can shapeshift into anyone after holding something that belongs to them. Of course, they torture and abuse her and plan to marry her off to some mysterious Magister, at least until Will comes along to the rescue. Then she get caught up in the world of the Shadow Hunters, demon-fighters descended from angels, and a plot to destroy them.

The world building is immersive and vast, on par with people like Scott Lynch and Seanan McGuire. And that’s nothing compared to Clare’s detailed and incredible character creation. Everyone, even the minor characters, are fleshed out into real people, and it’s easy to imagine Clare could tell you their life stories if you asked. No one is one-dimensional. And even the most tragic of circumstances, like Jem’s, who is always sick, feel real and not forced.

Tessa herself is likable, smart, witty, and tough. She starts to rescue herself before Will interrupts and is perfectly capable of being clear-headed in sticky situations. And while she tries to determine her feelings for Will, who is hot and cold, she doesn’t spend pages and pages pining for him. It’s not annoying, is what I’m saying, when so often it can be in paranormal romance. Tessa is also fond of books but unlike, say, Bella Swan, she’s also constantly quoting from them, and trading snippets of poetry with Will, who pretends to think it’s all sentimental nonsense.

And let me declare right here, right now: Magnus Bane is basically amazing. He’s a flashy bastard but he rocks so hard.

Characters and world-building aside, the story is incredibly crafted. It barely has a dull moment. There’s action, mystery, and crazy plot twists that I didn’t see coming. I’ve already started the second book and I cannot get enough of it. So crap. I guess I’m a Shadow Hunter fan after all. My only complaint is that I wish I’d thought of it first.

Recommended for: People who like October Daye and Harry Dresden will find this similar but different enough that it’s still new.