Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices Series book 1)~ by Cassandra Clare
476 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy
2015~ Simon & Schuster Teen
My Rating: 4.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Goodreads Description:The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them.
As a fan of YA Fantasy I have wanted to read Cassandra Clare’s work for a while now. Although I have heard tons of recommendations on the order in which her books should be read, I decided to go with my gut and start with The Infernal Devices series. I started with this series because I adore the Victorian Era – its literature, ideology, and aesthetic. I just find it fascinating. Knowing that Clare was going to mix up this era with magic, demons, and angel warriors? I was completely on board. I didn’t know what to expect with Clare’s writing, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I loved her use of metaphor, and her gorgeous descriptions of London. She really did justice to the Victorian era in every possible way!
Below were some high points and low points for me:
- Connection to Victorian Literature and Poetry- I loved the way that Clare wove Victorian Literature in to the narrative. Every chapter starts with a sample of poetry from this era and they all tied so beautifully to the narrative. Also, since Tessa is a bookworm, so much of the way she sees the world in connected to the books of this era and it was really cool to see how all of these great works of literature colored her outlook on life. The connection to the literature was also double sided because it was used to show a connection between Tessa and Will, and it also works as a connection between the reader and the writer. Overall- this was just brilliantly done!
“Are there any bleak moors in it, shrouded in mysterious mists? Ghostly brides wandering the halls of ruined castles? A handsome fellow rushing to the rescue of a beauteous yet penniless maiden?”
“No,” Magnus said.
“Then Tessa won’t have read it, either.”
- Victorian aesthetic & historical accuracy -wow, this book was just so….Victorian! Everything felt so on point. From Tessa’s outlook on women and there lack of “blood lust,” Jessamine’s desire to be a “lady,” the illusion to Darwin via the clockwork creatures, Jem’s illness and “opium” addiction, people’s fascination with Jem and his “foreignness,” and the wonderful descriptions of Victorian London, and its fashion. Clare did such a great job of capturing all of this!
“He was staring out at the city, a black outline against the reddened sky. The dome of St. Paul’s shone through the mucky air, and the thames ran like dark strong tea below it, bracketed here and there with the black lines of bridges.”
- Wit/Humor- The banter between Will, Jem, and Tessa was lovely. Their wit reminded me so much of Oscar Wilde and it seemed to fit so well with this time period.
“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
“I’m not sure a book has ever changed me,” said Will. “Well, there is one volume that promised to teach one how to turn oneself into an entire flock of sheep-”
- Magic and The Occult- Since the Victorians were obsessed with Spiritualism and the Occult, I thought that Clare’s decision to make Mortmain and the other members of the Pandemonium Club “mundanes” added another layer to the Victorian aesthetic of the book- seances, ouija boards, spirit cabinets, ect, but also to their desire to become more powerful via dark magic.
- The only thing that I didn’t love was the foreshadowing of the love triangle. It was glaringly obvious that we can expect a love triangle between Jem, Will, and Tessa. While I am not normally a fan of the love triangle, I do understand how Tessa could eventually fall in love with both Will and Jem. They are both such complex, haunted, and intriguing characters. I am a little apprehensive going forward with this love triangle, but I have a feeling that Clare will make it work.
Overall, this made my Victorian-lovin’ heart very happy! It had all the elements of a great YA Fantasy, plus, an author who clearly set out to pay homage to this era and its literature. I am starting book 2 immediately! Happy reading, everyone!