Clockwork AngelWhen 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. 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.
I have no idea why I waited so long to jump into Cassandra Clare's shadowhunter world. Maybe it was because I'm not typically a fan of paranormal books (or at least the typical paranormal books, which this is not). Maybe it was because I heard a lot of mixed reviews on The Mortal Instruments series and I thought I needed to read those first. but then I heard that you could start with these (which I've heard nothing but great things about). But regardless, I decided to jump in. And I am so glad that I did! This book and this world were both incredible.
Brave and Clever Heroine: CHECK
Tessa: Tessa is more than a little naïve, but understandably so. She just discovered this whole new world within the one she's always known. And despite that she's pretty brave and very clever. I love how she can handle Will and Jem so easily. She learns so quickly how to converse with them by being witty and always finds a way to surprise them. I love that she was okay with admitting that she still loved Nate even when she knew what he had done and she still claimed him as her brother even when she was ashamed of it. I enjoyed the quiet irony that even while Tessa can physically become other people, she often has trouble reading them and their intentions. She's straightforward and a lady, but she's also very strong. I loved the details that Cassandra Clare put in about her finding it strange that women were fighting or that a servant was addressing them in such plain ways or that everyone was going by their "Christian name". These details really added to the world building and made the historical aspect more apparent. Tessa didn't annoy me at all (which after reading The Elite, I can appreciate even more in a heroine). I'm very excited to keep reading about her.
Witty and Courageous and Interesting Heroes: CHECKX2
I'll start out by saying that Will and Jem's bromance is one of the cutest things about this book. They respected and understood each other. Their relationship had just as much depth and nearly as much page-time as either of their relationships with Tessa did, which was really refreshing to read. I loved their banter. For example,
“Well, she's not responding to my advances," he observed more brightly than he felt, "so she must be dead." "Or she's a woman of good taste and sense"
“How rude. Many who have gazed upon me have compared the experience to gazing at the radiance of the sun." Jem still had his eyes closed. "If they mean it gives you a headache, they aren't wrong.”
Will: He is mischievous and sarcastic but with very dark undertones. He's infuriating and amusing. and it's sometimes hard to tell what's the real him and what is his façade. But he's witty and he makes you laugh. It must take a lot of talent and work to invent a character that so simultaneously is so endearing and so frustrating. Who both makes you want to hug him and slap him. I can't say that he was good to or for Tessa, but I know he was staying away on purpose, though I don't quite know why yet. You could tell it pained him to hurt her, but that for some reason he thought it was necessary. Nearly any time he opened his mouth you knew you were in for a laugh or an eye-roll and you got excited to hear what he would say next. I love the view we have at Will's character when he is talking to Thomas as he is dying. We see sadness, but also his repression of sadness. And we see his view on how others often view him (and how he, in turn, views himself), as a nuisance. It's beautiful.
Also when he walks in and thinks that Tessa is dead and when he is carrying her while still thinking she's dead...what a darling. It's there that we see the depth of his character and his overwhelming attempt to veil it.
Jem: I do so love Jem. He's very gentlemanly and polite to everyone and not just for show. You can see his true affection for Will and Tessa and Charlotte and everyone else. In contrast to Tessa, Jem so perfectly understands those around him. He's spot on in describing everyone that Tessa has trouble reading. Especially when he says toward the end,
"And though Jessamine pretends to hate everything and Will would never admit to needing anything..."
When he said that I just sat there for a moment thinking, "that was absolutely perfect." But even while he is understanding and honest he's still very witty. He made me laugh nearly as often as Will did, but in a quieter and more subtle way.
Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
I really enjoyed how Will, Jem, and Tessa weren't the only complex and genuinely interesting characters in this book. There wasn't a single flat or one-dimensional character. They all had purpose and some even had heart.
Charlotte: She can be tough and a kick butt fighter, yet she's still motherly and caring to the others. I think we all want to be a bit more like Charlotte. She has to make the tough decisions and, goodness knows, anyone in charge of Will and Jem has a lot on their hands. But she manages everything with grace and wisdom (despite her young age).
Henry: I just love Henry. He's great. Someone else in their review likened him to Mr. Weasley and that was so accurate that I had to include it here. He's often forgetful or silly, but he's loveable.
De Quincey: He might not be the Magister, but that doesn't mean I have to like him any more. He was really creepy and vampire-y (I know, I'm great at adjectives... ;) ).
Camille: Another very interesting, albeit minor, character. Her speech to De Quincey about why she was betraying them that she delivered through Tessa gave me goosebumps with how frightening it was. I feel bad for anyone on her bad side.
Mortmain: We don't actually know that much truth about him yet, but he makes you want to know more. I want to find out what he has against Nephilim and the Clave and what he has planned. I'm sure it'll be just as bone-chilling as I'm assuming.
Sophie: Another small character who was very interesting. She was a very strong character and unexpectedly wise.
Jessamine: Selfish, but an intriguing character. You think she's going to have some decency, but she always finds a way to exceed herself in selfishness. But also very consistent when it comes to goals. Her motive always made sense.
Nate: He is sick and twisted, but in a very human way. He fails to grasp that immortal life means nothing if you live it in dishonor and without love. That's what made him so horrible to read, I think. Because his struggle was so basic to the human mindset, because we see non-paranormal humans living this way just with less access to the supernatural power that Nate had been tempted with.
Fantastic World-building: CHECK
There was a lot of description in this book, but it gave it an air of the past. It set the stage up for its historical setting quite well. The world was both intriguing and engaging. You were presented with enough understanding to grasp the world that was being built, but also just the right amount to keep surprises coming. I'm interested in seeing more of the workings of the Clave. And the dynamic of all of the members of the institute was very interesting, like how Charlotte felt very much like a mother/older sister to Will, Jem, and Jessamine, but they weren't sure how they felt of her.
Wonderful Writing: CHECK
I actually quite enjoyed the third-person past-tense writing style. It worked with the story and it never felt dull (which can sometimes happen with this type of writing). Beautiful world and development and wonderful characters. The world drew me in completely. I appreciated that the romance wasn't overwhelming to the story, but was still pleasantly there. And I adored the pieces of poetry at the beginnings of the chapters. It gave it a very distinct feeling of both whimsy and a haunting kind of danger simultaneously.
For the record, I listened to the audio book version and loved it. The accents were really well done and each character was discernible from the others.
“Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.”
"Sometimes when I have to do something I don't want to do, I pretend I'm a character from a book. It's easier to know what they would do."
"Goodness, real goodness, has its own sort of cruelty to it."
"It was so odd...what brought out tenderness in people. It was never what you would have expected."
"It is as great a thing to love as to be loved. Love is not something that can be wasted."
“There's plenty of sense in nonsense sometimes, if you wish to look for it.”
“Whatever you are physically...male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy--all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.”
"Pulvis et umbra sumus," said Will, not looking at her as he spoke. "I believe we are dust and shadows. What else is there?”
“Sometimes," Jem said, "our lives can change so fast that the change outpaces our minds and hearts. It's those times, I think, when our lives have altered but we still long for the time before everything was altered-- that is when we feel the greatest pain. I can tell you, though, from experience, you grow accustomed to it. You learn to live your new life, and you can't imagine, or even really remember, how things were before.”
“Whoever loves you now—and you must also love yourself—will love the truth of you.”
“And I think that you do not understand that sometimes the only choice is between acceptance and madness.”
“Inanimate objects are harmless indeed, Mr. Mortmain. But one cannot always say the same of the men who use them.”
"That though he is weak, he can still burn.”
"...as he found everything in the world both infinitely funny and infinitely tragic all at the same time.”