Book Review: Clockwork Angel [Infernal Devices 1]



Title: Clockwork Angel [The Infernal Devices 1]

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk, Paranormal, Romance, Historical

Rating: 5 Stars




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.


As an avid fan of Ms. Clare’s series The Mortal Instruments, it will come as little surprise to my usual review readers that after having finished the 5th book the series, I set about obtaining the author’s other series–set in the same world I might add–The Infernal Devices. This series comes as a bit of a prequel to the other, setting it’s time period in the Victorian era of England, rather than present-day New York.

I wasn’t sure when I started this series if I was going to like it as much as the Mortal Instruments, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m also very glad that I picked up this series second, because if I hadn’t, I’d probably have ruined myself for the other series. Honestly, I liked Clockwork Angel almost more than half the books in the other series.

I found the characters in Clockwork Angel a lot more compelling, and a lot less annoying, than those of The Mortal Instruments. Yes, there were plenty of brooding teenagers and a couple of secondary characters that weren’t my favorite, but overall I found the characters in this book a lot less taxing.

Tessa, in my opinion, though perhaps a lot more demure than Clary, and certainly less forward-thinking, is in my opinion, a much stronger character. She doesn’t jump into the fray making rash and immature decisions. When she jumps in it’s to save others, even if it means sacrificing herself, but she always thinks before she leaps. Despite her lack of shadow hunter blood, I admire her tenacity given the situation she’s found herself in.

Unfortunately (and maybe not so much so), Will Herondale is broody in a very similar fashion to his descendant, Jace. Though less whiney (so far), he’s dark, mysterious and grumpy (with just a tinge of endearing humor)–their archetypes seem to be very similar, and that’s both a pleasant, and unpleasant surprise. Look, I get it. Broody can be sexy, but there comes a point where it’s just tiring. Will and Jace both very closely straddle that line. I will say though that I did appreciate Will’s penchant for literature and his softer side, which we occasionally got to see in this first book. I only wish he didn’t resort to being cruel and standoffish when he feels the need to push people away.

Jem, on the other hand, was a real gem. (haha see what I did there?) I really enjoyed his character. He was polite, friendly, and endearing in a way that Will wasn’t. He seemed to fully embrace Tessa as an addition to the institute and their ragtag family, even crossing over into that muddy area of romance in some small ways. I honestly don’t know who I’m rooting for the most. Brilliantly played Ms. Clare.

Jessamine was tragic. I wanted to dislike her at first–much like I first disliked Isabelle in the other series. But where Isabelle was simply standoffish, Jessamine had a complexity to her character that made my heart break. She was very well-written, and I can’t wait to see how her character progresses through the series.

There were other characters I truly enjoyed (Sophie, Charlotte… etc.) and some not so much (Agatha… who I barely remember, and Henry… weakest male character I’ve read in awhile), but overall, I really liked the cast of characters presented in Clockwork Angel.

As for the writing itself, the narrative was clean, error-free, and grammatically correct. The pace jumped along at a jaunty speed and I never felt rushed or bogged down with flowery prose. I quickly became absorbed in the world-building, narrative, and dialogue, and never found myself rolling my eyes. Though, I did burst into laughter for several minutes during a particularly hilarious quip from Tess. Bravo.

Overall I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. I’ll certainly read it again, and I’d love to recommend it to anyone who likes Fantasy, Paranormal, YA, or Steampunk. It was a great read and I will definitely be delving more into the series.


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