Reviews

Review: The Black Coats ~ by Colleen Oakes

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Review: The Black Coats ~ by Colleen Oakes  

376 pages (Hardbound) ~ YA Fiction  

2019~ Harper Teen

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Goodreads Description:

The deeply secretive Black Coats have been exacting vengeance on men who hurt girls and women for years. And Thea has just received an invitation to join them. This is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to finally get justice for her cousin Natalie, whose killer went free.

Thea dives head first into the group, training every day with other girls whose stories rival hers. Together they carry out Balancings—acts of revenge guaranteed to teach a lesson. With every predator threatened, every blackmailer exposed, and every date rapist punished, Thea can feel herself getting closer to avenging Natalie’s death.

But then the Balancings begin to escalate in brutality, and Thea discovers that the Black Coats are not all they seem to be. Thea must confront just how far she’s willing to go for justice—and what kind of justice Natalie, and Thea herself, deserve. Because when the line between justice and revenge is razor thin, it’s hard not to get cut.

“Soulevez-vous, femmes de la vengeance”

“Raise up, women of revenge”

My Thoughts:  

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Even though the synopsis was really intriguing, The Black Coats is not typically the type of YA a book that I would ever pick up. I generally stick to fantasy and dystopian when I venture into YA territory. But isn’t that the point of a reading challenge- encouraging you to read things that you would never have picked up otherwise? I think so, and I am actually really glad that I picked this up. It has a really interesting and unique concept, one that I have heard many people call “unrealistic,” but I am definitely not looking for reality in my books, so I was ok with that. The Black Coats are a vigilante group of women who hold various positions of power in their Community. The community, in this case, is Austin, TX. They’re sworn to right the wrongs done to women. In other words- they take matters into their own hands when the law fails to punish men for their crimes against women. They also have a long history that reaches back generations and influence that reaches beyond Austin. They reminded me of ninja-witches (minus the magic). Instead of using magic to achieve their goals, they use their physical prowess and the numerous skills of the women in their secret organization- lawyers, policewomen, politicians, etc. However, they are not a perfect organization. I loved that the reader was meant to question this from the start. Our main character, Thea, who is a funny, endearing, and typical 17-year-old, quickly starts to see the issues within the organization, but she grapples with the notion that they are also administering “justice.” The book brings up a lot of interesting questions – The most valuable bring – vengeance vs justice. Can revenge ever really buy true justice or bring peace? Will revenge lessen the grief of losing someone you love? These are all questions that the characters have to figure out for themselves which was something I felt we could all relate to. Despite the seriousness of these issues, Thea is still able to find real purpose, friendship, and clarity as a member. Ultimately, the book has a very hopeful message about what women, and men, can accomplish through true friendship and understanding.

What I didn’t love:

  • One complaint was that certain plot points were a little predictable- there was a lot of foreshadowing and certain elements just seemed inevitable. 
  • I also would have liked more history on The Black Coat National organization- I get that there is only so much room in a book for Oakes to explore all of this, but I had a lot of questions about the organization outside of Austen and I felt like that would have been a really fascinating connection.

Possible trigger warnings here: rape, domestic violence

Overall, I really enjoyed it- It was a quick read with a really interesting message and I would definitely recommend it to other YA readers.

For more information on Colleen Oakes and her books, check her out on Goodreads and Instagram

Note: I received a copy of The Black Coats from BookSparks in exchange for an honest review and as a #YAWRC2019 ambassador. Thank you so much BookSparks.

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

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Reviews

Review: ARC of The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

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Review: The Beast’s Heart ~ by Leife Shallcross

Paperback 416 pages ~ YA fantasy

Paperback February 2019 ~ Ace Publishing

My Rating: 3.5/5 ★★★

Goodreads Description:

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined château with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.

Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the château. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse. _____________________________________________________________________________

Note: I was provided with an ARC of The Beast’s Heart through NetGalley and Berkley/Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:  

I have always loved classic fairy tale retellings, Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites, and The Beast’s Heart definitely did justice to the amazing story. There was so much to love here so I will start with what I loved most.

img_1529What I loved:

  • The POV of the Beast was, of course, my favorite part of this book. It added a really fresh take on a story that has been told so many times. I really liked the connection to the Beast’s family and his legacy/heritage through the portrait of his Grandmother. Also, the legacy of his father that he desperately wanted to escape. This made the Beast a really well rounded, fully fleshed-out, human character rather than just a mythical fairy tale figure.
  • The magic, the land/house, and invisible servants- I really loved that the magic of the land and the house was connected to Isabeau’s arrival. However, I loved that in this version, Isabeau stays of her own accord. The Beast never wants her to stay with him because of her potential to break the curse. He is not even aware of this possibility until at least halfway into the book. Instead, he is interested in her as a person, and their conversations reflect this mutual interest. I also appreciated that Shallcross didn’t attempt to recreate the servants as enchanted tea-cups, and teapots, etc. Instead, they are invisible forces tied to the house and land that seem to be orchestrating things the best they can.
  • Writing Style- the writing was reminiscent of an old fashion classic – think Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters- I really liked this style and thought that it added another interesting layer to the story.

What I didn’t love:

  • My biggest complaint with the book was that there wasn’t much in the way of conflict between the Beast and Isabeau. While I loved that Isabeau was given a choice in whether she stayed with the Beast or not, this really caused a lack of tension in their relationship. This story is typically one of unlikely friendship/love, but there was nothing really unlikely here. They share mutual respect and admiration right from the beginning. They are considerate and polite to each other and Isabeau never once seems frightened of the Beast. They seem to really like each other, if not love, pretty early on. Therefore, there is no conflict or suspense. 
  • While there is no tension between the Beast and Isabeau, there is tension between the sisters and their father/the Beast and Isabeau’s father. However, this tension is also very simply resolved. I never felt like the book reached any point of tension or suspense. When it did, it was resolved rather quickly. 
  • As much as I loved the connection to the Beast’s family legacy, I really wanted more. I would have loved some flashbacks that showed the relationship between him and his Grandmother/him and his father, rather than just being told what their relationships were like. It’s called the Beast’s Heart, and I really wanted details and experiences that showed what shaped his heart other than Isabeau. All the time spend watching Isabeau’s family would have been better spent diving deeper into the Beast’s character because he was really the most interesting part of the novel. 

For more information on Leife Shallcross and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: The Gilded Wolves ~ by Roshani Chokshi

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Review: The Gilded Wolves ~ by Roshani Chokshi

384 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2019 – Wednesday Books

My Rating: 5/5 ✰✰✰✰✰

Goodreads Description:

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

My Thoughts:

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In the author’s notes, Chokshi states that she has always had a hard time reconciling the glamour of 1889 Paris- “courtesans and the Moulin Rouge, glittering parties and champagne” with the horrors of the Exposition Universelle, and rapid colonization and anti-Semitism that was also spreading at this time. She states “I wanted to understand how an era called La Belle Epoque, literally The Beautiful Era, could possess that name with that stain.” One of my favorite elements of this book is Chokshi’s ability to explore this question in such an artful and thought-provoking way. She has done exactly what she set out to do in this book. We still get the glitz and the glamour that you would expect of this era, but there is always an underlining push to question history, ownership, and who has the right to tell our stories. As she states, “I wanted to write this trilogy not to instruct or to condemn, but to question….Question what is gold and what glitters.” And she has done exactly that. Besides this artful juxtaposition of the La Belle Epoque Era, we also get an amazing cast of characters who I challenge anyone not to fall in love with, plus an adventure full of magic, myth, and suspense. Below are a few more of the high points for me:

The Characters • So many people have been comparing this to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, but I honestly found myself relating even more to these characters than I did in SoC. I saw little parts of myself in each one of them. They all have to overcome injustices and their own insecurities, while still staying true to themselves and going after what they want.

  • Severin- “That boy looks like every dark corner of a fairy tale. The wolf in bed. The apple in a witch’s palm.” He is the dark, mysterious, brooding, mastermind that I always seem to fall in love with. He is really interesting because he has found a way to use his troubled past (his 7 fathers, named after the 7 deadly sins) to his advantage. He has an intense love for his friends, but his desire to protect them also causes him to close himself off.
  • Laila- “A way to move through a world that tried to keep her to the sidelines = Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It’s far more useful.” L’Enigma- The Mystery. This name is so fitting for Laila because the nature of her life is the only part of her that is the mystery. She has yet to discover how and why she was spared from death as a child. But Laila herself is not a mystery- she is open and loving, smart and determined. She carries great pride in her Indian heritage while trying to understand her future.
  • Enrique- “When he realized he didn’t have the talent, he chose to study the subjects that felt closest to Forging: history and language. He could still change the world….maybe not with something as dramatic or grand as Forging, but in more intimate ways. Writing. Speaking. Human Connection.” Enrique is our brilliant Historian who longs to be part of the change and reform of Paris. Like Hypnos, he is also super witty- his batter between Zofia and Hypnos was definitely a highlight for me.
  • Tristan- “His landscape artistry looked like the fever dream of a nature spirit. It was unsettling and beautiful, and Paris couldn’t get enough of it.” Tristan wants nothing more than to protect his friends, mainly Severin and Goliath (his tarantula), and create his magical plant worlds. But unlike Severin, he is not able to let go of the trauma of his past and he is haunted and broken in ways that are not always apparent.
  • Zofia- “She’d said the wrong thing. She wanted to take it back, but then she remembered Laila’s advice. To perform. To own whatever illusion one cast of themselves.” Zofia’s social anxiety is one of the reasons that I relate to her the most. She is constantly evaluating and questioning herself, and unfortunately, always sells herself short. Everything is a numbers game to Zofia, so she has to work harder than most to live outside of her analytical world. 
  • Hypnos-”I shall keep your identity a secret, L’Enigma. And before I forget, I must tell you I adored your costume. So shiny. I’m rather tempted to see if it will fit me.” Wit beyond measure! He reminded me so much for Lord Henry Wotton from The Picture of Dorian Gray. He is constantly teasing and egging people on, trying to get to the core of what makes people tick, but at the same time, his desire to be loved and accepted by the group is so apparent that you can’t help but love him.

Magic/Heists/Codes/Puzzles •  The magical heist in The Gilded Wolves definitely has Six of Crows vibes but while the characters in SoC rely heavily on stealth and sleight of hand, these characters have to rely on their knowledge of math, history, science, mythology, and religion in order to solve complicated puzzles and codes. It’s one of the elements of the book that puts you right in the action and it’s really exciting to read.

Obviously, I’m a huge fan. This book is thoughtfully written by an author who has clearly set out to pay homage to an era in its entirety- and not just the “beautiful” parts- but the darker, ugly side as well. She wants to show that both of these sides can and did exist simultaneously. But she also manages to give us one hell of an adventure while doing it. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series and to see where these characters go next!

Happy reading!

A HUGE thank you to BookSparks for allowing me to be part of their YA Winter Reading Challange 2019 and for sending a copy of this my way. It has really been a pleasure partnering with this amazing group.

For more information on Roshani Chokshi and her books, check her out on Goodreads & Instagram

I am super excited to be attending Roshani’s signing in Phoenix tonight- I’ll be posting picture and videos over on my Instagram if you’re interested!

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: Escaping From Houdini ~ by Kerri Maniscalco

Review: Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) ~ by Kerri Maniscalco

416 pages ~ Young Adult, Historical Fiction

2018~ Jimmy Patterson

My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description: Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

My Thoughts:

Both Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula are two of my favorite YA historical fiction novels. Kerri Maniscalco does an amazing job of capturing the Victorian aesthetic. All her books have a very “vintage detective” feel (for lack of a better word)- kind of Agatha Christie meets Nancy Drew. It was so much fun being back with my favorite sleuthing Victorian lovebirds. Everything we love about them is still there, but we also get to see them grow as individuals too. This crime was as unpredictable and fascinating as the other two books, and I loved following along with all of the clues- though they didn’t do me much good in figuring out the murderer. It was a great ride from start to finish.

Below were some highlights for me:

  • The whole set up of the Moonlight Carnival was amazing! The performers all had interesting backstories that connected so well with their talents. Their talents were also so unique to Victorian carnivals. They were all mysterious, and a little creepy, but they all still felt really likable to me. Methosopholes was the perfect mysterious, master of ceremony.
  • Like the other two books in the series, this book was full of lovely, rich description- every detail of the ship was covered in detail, the clothing that every character and performer wore, even the food that was served was described in detail.
  • The connection between the tarot cards/playing cards and the murders was next level creepy. I loved getting these clues at each new murder.
  • The murder was completely unpredictable- maybe this is a result of my poor sleuthing skills, but I had absolutely no idea who the killer was. I would like to go back and read some key moments to see if there were any clues that I might have missed.
  • The humor and banter between Thomas and Audrey Rose continued to elicit laughs and smiles from me. Though I would have liked more of it, their relationship/partnership continues to be my favorite part of the series.

Spoiler below:

-The only aspect that I didn’t love was the love triangle. I really appreciate what Maniscalco was doing by adding in another potential love interest for Audrey Rose, and I think it worked in some ways. It was nice to see that Audrey Rose would never settle and that she would continue to question what it is she really wants. I liked that she considered another life and another option for herself. I also liked that Thomas never tried to force Audrey Rose or demand that she choose. He was willing to set her free and support her no matter what she decided. My only issue with the love triangle was that I felt like her interest in Mephistopheles was half-hearted. It was so obvious to me that she was never going to pick him over Thomas, so the whole angst of it all just felt unnecessary and a little forced.

-I actually really like Mephistopheles and I would have liked him more if he had been working with Thomas and Audrey Rose to solve the murders, rather then just trying to seduce Audrey Rose and get her to agree to bargains that were so obviously ploys to get her alone.

-Also, so many of the romantic/flittery moments between Audrey Rose and Mephistopheles felt so similar to some moments between her and Thomas. So it was a little awkward to read.

Overall, this series will forever be one of my favorites. The Victorian world that Maniscalco has created is perfect- I love the aesthetic and feel of each destination. From the Gothic streets of London to Bran Castle, and now to a deadly floating carnival. Thomas and Audrey Rose are so endearing and I love how they work as a team. Both Audrey Rose and Thomas don’t subscribe to typical Victorian beliefs and I love that about them. I have heard the criticism that this makes them unrealistic characters, but I find it really refreshing. It is great to read about a strong confident Victorian girl who refuses to accept society’s role for her. And a Victorian boy who sees the girl he loves as an equal and a partner. I’m so excited that there is another book coming! Hopefully next year. I Can’t wait for another adventure with these two.

As always, I would love to hear from you! Happy reading, everyone!  

For more information on Kerri Maniscalco and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: Siege and Storm ~ by Leigh Bardugo

Review: Siege and Storm ~ by Leigh Bardugo

358 pages ~ Genre: YA Fantasy

2013 ~ Henry Holt and Company

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Description: Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

My Thoughts:

I really loved Shadow and Bone, but Siege and Storm had so much more action, humor, intrigue, plus- Nikolai! This series just got even better!

Here’s were some highlights for me:

  • Alina’s draw to the Darkling in this book was the most fascinating element for me- her subconscious need to understand him and the hidden truth that he is the only one that will ever be able to understand her- added such a great underlying tension to the plot.

“Like calls to like.” “There are no others like us, Alina. And there never will be.”

  • Alina’s own shadows – I loved how this book played with the difference between the Darklings ‘merzost’ and the Grisha’s small science. It felt like Alina’s fascination with the Darkling and his nivhevo’ya were foreshadowing her own eventual battle with her own “shadows.” I loved how this played with the idea of light and dark existing in all of us.
  • The addition of Nikolai (aka Sturmhond)- The “too clever fox” was seriously a perfect addition to this series. His witty retorts made this book so much fun and brought a lightheartedness that was missing in the first book.
  • Alina as the leader of the Grisha Army was another amazing element in this book- watching her assert her authority and command a room was inspiring. The “war room” scenes were giving me major Daenerys vibes.
  • The imperfect relationship between Alina and Mal- It’s obvious Mal and Alina love each other, but I thought that it was really refreshing that we didn’t get a “love conquers all” scenario between them. Both Alina and Mal have personal demons that they have to work through and I really liked that these weren’t easily swept aside. They actually had to overcome a lot together and separately in this book, and I’m sure they will have to overcome more as the series continues.
  • Court intrigue – the cat and mouse game between Nikolai and his brother; Alina’s interactions with the King and other members of the court; and we also get the conflict between the Grisha Army and the First Army- all of the intrigue just built this story up so well.

The ending was stress-inducing, so I immediately jumping into Ruin and Rising!

For more information on Leigh Bardugo and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: Clockwork Princess ~ by Cassandra Clare

Review: Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices Series book 3)~ by Cassandra Clare

567 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2013~ Simon & Schuster Teen

My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

“Sometimes when you cannot decide what to do, you pretend you are a character in a book, because it is easier to decide what they would do”

My Thoughts:

Ok, now that I have finally finished the whole series, I can reflect back on how I felt going into it. I was honestly not expecting to love it this much. I had watched a few episodes of the Shadowhunter series on Freeform with my daughter and I honestly thought it looked super cheesy. However, I was complete attracted to the Victorian aesthetic and so many people had recommended it. So, I thought at the most it would be a fun fantasy. It was fun, there is tons of action, humor, and romance, but I did not expect to be so moved by these characters and to fall so in love with Cassandra Clare’s writing. She has not only managed to craft a beautiful love story between these characters, but she has thoroughly paid homage to the Victorian era and its literature. Below were some high points for me:

  • My favorite thing about the final book in the series was way that Clare was able to clearly express the bond between Will, Jem, and Tessa, and the love they have for each other.

“They say you cannot love two people equally at once,” she said. “And perhaps for others that is so. But you and Will—you are not like two ordinary people, two people who might have been jealous of each other, or who would have imagined my love for one of them diminished by my love of the other. You merged your souls when you were both children. I could not have loved Will so much if I had not loved you as well. And I could not love you as I do if I had not loved Will as I did.”

  • Clare is also so good with plot! Sometimes with fantasy the epicness of the plot can overshadow what is going on with the characters. Here, the dangers which the characters were up against (Mormain, the automatons, ect), mirrored their own internal struggles, questions, and shortcomings. Everything just melded together so well.
  • I know I mentioned this in my Clockwork Angel review, but I just love the way Clare was able to make the novels feel so Victorian. This consistently kept me immersed in that era as I read.
  • The parabatai connection between Will and Jem was so beautiful described in this book- the rune, the knife, glimpses of the ritual- I loved this element of their bond and the way Clare made it feel so scared and otherworldly.
  • There are so many great minor characters here:

Magnus Bane – his need to protect Will and his desire to find true love despite his impossibly long and tedious existence

Woolsey Scott – the aesthete-werewolf – his snarky loathing of everything

Henry – his inability to make anything that works, but still be completely charming

Sophie- who is finally able to fight for herself and what she wants 

  • Lastly- I loved that the final message of the book was connected to human goodness and redemption. That although we are such flawed creatures, there is always the potential for goodness.

“There was human goodness in the world, she thought- all caught up with desires and dreams, regrets and bitterness, resentments and power, but it was there.”

There was so much tragic beauty in these novels and I won’t soon forget these characters.  Ok, I’m obviously complete trash for these books and should probably end my rant now.

For more information on Cassandra Clare and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: Clockwork Prince ~ by Cassandra Clare

Review: Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices Series book 2)~ by Cassandra Clare

498 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2015~ Simon & Schuster Teen

My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

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.

The human heart has hidden treasures,

In secret kept, in silence sealed;

The Thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,

Whose charms were broken if revealed

Charlotte Bronte, “Evening Solace”

My Thoughts: I loved so much about Book 1- The use of Victorian Literature and Poetry, the descriptions of Victorian London, the humor, the inclusion of the Occult, and characters….ahhhh! So much to love! And Book 2 was even better. This book had a much faster pace, the plot held my interest even more than book 1, and although I do not normally like love triangles, this one was so beautifully done that it made this book my favorite in the series so far.

Below were some of my favorite scenes and elements from Book 2:

  • The opening scene of Will in the Cross Bones Graveyard buying ingredients from Ol’ Molly – the ghost who is hunting for her lost wedding ring. This scene was so creepy and gothic!
  • Tessa and Jem visiting the Poet’s corner in Westminster Abbey- this was a special nod to book worms everywhere
  • The Irish Cook, Bridget, who only sings sad Irish ballads all day- this was such a funny addition to normal, trivial parts of the plot and was something that all the characters bonded over
  • I loved how the Shadowhunter world expanded in this book – we get to see the workings of the Clave, the other Institutes, the Silent Brothers, the Mortal Sword, information on Parabatai, and the backstory of other well-known Shadowhunter families like The Herondales.
  • The backstory on Mortmain plus Tessa’s sympathy for him – this added an interesting layer to the “villain” role that Mortmain inhabits especially because he wasn’t actually in this book
  • Victorian outlook on women’s issues was more of a focus in this book. We see Charlotte fighting to keep her position as head of the London Institute against Lightwood, who claims: “women cannot run an Institute; women do not think with logic and discretion but with the emotions of the heart.” We also see Tessa’s own views about women’s sexuality and her belief that women are supposed to be more restrained and sexually chased than men. It was great to see women in this time period challenge these stereotypes and realize their own desires, authority, and power.
  • One of my absolute favorite characters was Woolsey Scott- I loved that he represented the “aesthetes” of Victorian London, he reminded me of Oscar Wilde with his “velvet jacket, knee breeches, and a trailing scarf with paisley print,” and his wit, and humor. He even lives in Chelsea, the artistic, literary area of Victorian London.
  • We also get to see Tessa and Sophie train to fight as Shadowhunters- I loved this element because it showed both girls becoming stronger, more determined, more self aware, and more confident. Tessa especially grows into her role as “Boadicea” in book 2.
  • There is so many different types of love in this book. We have the brotherhood between Jem and Will- these two are two of the best male characters and their devotion to each other was so so lovely; we have restrained, reserved love between Charlotte and Henry; the sweet, protective love between Jem and Tessa; the all consuming, burning-up type of love between Will and Tessa – I thought it was so great to see all of these different types of love represented in a time period that frowned on anything other than “traditional” love.
  • I found Tessa’s love for both Will and Jem to be so authentic and sweet. Her love for each boy was so different, but both felt very real to me. In turn, each boy loves her in such a different way.

“She could not stop herself from comparing the two- Jem with his odd combination of delicacy and strength, and Will like a storm at sea, slate blue and black with brilliant flashes of temper like heat lightning.”

  • I was so nervous going into Book 2 for the love triangle that I felt sure was coming, but Clare really did an amazing job of making this part of the plot feel genuine- it was heartbreaking, but at the end of the book I understood why each character felt the way they did and why they made the choices they did.

I will definitely be moving to my list of favorite YA Fantasy Series, EVER!  As always, I would love to hear from you! Happy reading, everyone!  

Read my review of book 1 of this series, Clockwork Angel – HERE 

For more information on Cassandra Clare and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi