I recently completed Clockwork Princess, which is the third and final book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series. All I can say is “Wow, what an ending!” Do you ever get that disappointed feeling when you end a series that you are in love with, and the ending just leaves you feeling empty and unsatisfied? This is so not the case with Clockwork Princess. I don’t know how she did it, but Cassandra Clare ended this series in the most epic way.
I don’t want to spend too much time on Clockwork Princess in case there are some of you out there who have yet to start the Infernal Devices series, so I’ll talk more about Clockwork Angel, the first book in the trilogy:
Taking place in Nineteenth Century London, the world of the Shadowhunters (Nephilim who use their better-than-human abilities to keep humans safe, fighting Downworlders—demons, werewolves, vampires, etc) is in grave danger. On one fateful night, Tessa Gray is rescued from her evil captors by the handsome (and insanely sardonic) Will Herondale.
Tessa isn’t a Mundane (human), but she is not a Shadowhunter either…she’s some kind of shape-changer, never before seen or heard of. Tessa can not only change into the form of another being by holding an individual’s personal possession, she can also locate their memories and desires. And a man named Mortmain has his eye on her, wanting to use Tessa as a weapon against the Nephilim that take her in and care for her.
Mortmain has been working to create an army of Automatons (clockwork creatures of mass destruction, built to vaguely resemble humans). His ultimate goal is to get his hands on Tessa, and somehow use her in his plot against the Nephilim…but exploit her how?
In the mean time, Tessa has been taken to the London Institute—a refuge for all stray Shadowhunters. Orphaned by her family in America, and unable to find her brother in London, Tessa begins to find a family within the stone walls of the institute: There is the Charlotte, the kind but firm head of the Institute; Charlotte’s quirky inventor husband, Henry; the kind maid, Sophie, who came from a brutal past; and lastly there are Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs.
Will and Jem were both arrived at the institute as young boys. Will ran away from his Welsh home (where his family lives in exile from the Nephilim community, because his father married a Mundane) in order to be trained as a Shadowhunter. Jem on the other hand, comes all the way from China. Both of Jem’s parents were murdered by a Greater Demon, leaving young Jem orphaned, and sick, relying on a silvery powdered drug called yin fin to keep him alive. This drug has the side effect of turning Jem’s hair and eyes silver, and he is just barely sustaining his fragile life.
Tessa finds herself inexplicably drawn to both boys. Where Will is cynical and volatile at most times, Tessa discovers the less guarded side of him. She sees the boy who is just as much in love with literature and literary heroes as she is. Jem, on the other hand, is the epitome of a gentleman. Extremely even tempered, and a prodigy violinist, Jem appeals to Tessa’s softer side.
Also while at the institute, she receives training, learning how to fight Downworlders using swords and knives. With the help of the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, Tessa vows to unhinge Mortmain’s plan of mass destruction using the Automatons, and find her missing brother in the process.
This entire series is full of epic combative fight scenes, squeal-inducing romance, superlative supernatural elements, and lessons on learning how not only to love others, but love to yourself as well.
While I highly recommend that you read Cassandra Clare’s “Mortal Instruments” series first, beginning with “The City of Bones,” this prequel series could also make a great stand alone read.
“On the stone floor, lined up in rows, were hundreds of automatons. They wore a motley assortment of military uniforms and were deadly still, their metal eyes closed. Tin soldiers, Cecy thought, grown to human size. The Infernal Devices. Mortmain’s great creation—an army bred to be unstoppable, to slaughter Shadowhunters and to move onward without remorse.”
“There are so many things worse than death,” he said. “Not to be loved or not to be able to love: that is worse. And to go down fighting as a Shadowhunter should, there is no dishonor in that. An honorable death—I have always wanted that.”