by: Cassandra Clare
As she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.
What? What. No, what. I just started this series around a week ago and I don't know what I'm going to do with my life now that it's over! ugh. Can it just, you know, not be over? please? I don't think I'm going to be able to do this book justice in this review. THERE IS NO LIMIT TO THE GOOD THINGS I CAN SAY ABOUT IT.
Wonderful and Clever Heroine: CHECK
I cannot get over how fantastic Tessa is as a character. She's so different than she was by the end of this series, but still so obviously herself. It's just wonderful. She's just as clever and funny and brave, but she's changed into someone who is even more compassionate and caring and SO freaking strong. This book didn't follow Tessa's point of view as closely until the end because she did spend a lot of time captured. But she was always present through Jem and Will. I love how Tessa found a way to understand Jem and Will both perfectly. Especially we saw this with Will in this book (when she explains to Cecily why Will was angry that she had come and when she understood what he needed to hear at the Christmas party). One of the best things about her character in this book is how she simultaneously was true to Jem and never wavered, but was still kind to Will. She managed their odd situation with grace and humility and love. That's all you can really ask of a character. I loved that she found her strength in the wonderful and brave people she had known, she found and used the goodness she saw in Charlotte, Sophie, Will, Jem, Henry, Cecily. She was who she became because of them and for them. (Never is that more evident than in this thought she had while facing down Mortmain),
"She thought of Jem again, the way he never railed against his fate but faced it down bravely; she thought of Charlotte, who wept over Jessamine's death, though Jessie had betrayed her; and she thought of Will, who had laid down his heart for her and Jem to walk upon because he loved them more than he loved himself."
Funny and Brave and Amazing Heroes: CHECKX100.
Jem: I'm going to start with Jem because WHAT. I love him so much in this book. He's so brave and selfless and just, you know, Jem. One of the most heartbreaking moments was when Jem was talking to Charlotte about not getting to see the baby. And, of course, all of the times that we thought were going to be Jem and Will's last conversation. I loved that losing your parabatai was quite literally heart-wrenching. Will's heart was actually pained when the connection was cut even if he was miles and miles away. I was so sure that he had died when the Silent Brothers drove away and the realization of what had really happened kind of, sort of, COMPLETELY rocked my world. It was in a way both more heartbreaking and harder to deal with for both the characters and for the reader. They had to try to reconcile yourself to the fact that their Jem wasn't their Jem anymore. But they did it because that meant accepting his decision out of their love for him. Even while glimpses of their Jem showed through, like when he played the violin as Will died and how he was touched when they Will and Tessa named their first child James after him.
Will: and now, William Herondale. Oh, my heart. His love for both Tessa and Jem is inspiring and endearing and just wonderful. He's still funny in this book but he's also heartbreaking and distressing and all of the emotions that so often surround Will Herondale. I teared up when he reached in with his bare hands to pull Jem's Yin Fen out of the fire. I love that he didn't even need to think about he, he just reacted. And all his interactions with Tessa completely broke me or left me grinning like an idiot (and often, both). I don't think I can adequately describe how well his character is written in these books, but I'll try anyway. The character development is always spot on, you know who he is as he learns who he is. He's endearing and wonderful and perfectly imperfect. I would, without a doubt, read book after book about him doing even the smallest of things with Jem and/or Tessa. Because it's so clear how much he cares for them both. Also, Will reading to Tessa to comfort them both was just perfect and wonderful and touching.
Now, because I don't think I can pull my thoughts together any more than that most likely rambling paragraph, here I'll just give you some touching and heartrendingly perfect Jem, Will, and Tessa quotes.
"And now I need you to do for me what I cannot do for myself. For you to be my eyes when I do not have them. For you to be my hands when I cannot use my own. For you to be my heart when mine is done beating."
"She did not know what anyone could say in the face of love like this--so much forbearance, so much endurance, so much hope."
"He had not told her then that he had read her letters, that he already loved the warrior soul in her, hidden behind those quiet gray eyes."
"And I am--I am catastrophically in love with you."
The Love Triangle in general:
Okay, so I am not the most avid hater of love triangles, but neither am I their biggest supporter. I believe that there IS a right way to do it that it can be both touching and effective, but that authors should be careful because they are far too easy to mess up. I hate when they're added in for drama or angst. BUT, this is by far the best and most thorough love triangle I've ever read. I think the key to that was that the problems never sprang from unrequited love. The problem was ALWAYS an overabundance of love. The three, Jem, Will, and Tessa, are bound by their love and admiration and respect for each other. The boys are best friends and I love that that never for a second wavers in the face of Tessa (not out of a lack of love for her, but out of such a strong love between the two of them). And Will would have preferred that Jem stay around even if he knew that it meant he couldn't have her because he knew that would have made them both happy. Once again, I don't have the words to correctly describe just how well done the romance aspect of this book is, but it is going down in my book as my favorite love stories of all time.
Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
I think Cassandra Clare was VERY clever in writing this book. She included a lot of side plot lines for the other characters that both provided entertainment, showed us the characters in a different light, and made sure the book wasn't overly angsty.
Charlotte: Equal parts kick-butt and kind. That's sounds to me like a fantastic character. I absolutely adore Charlotte in this book. I mean, the woman is PREGNANT and she goes off fighting all kinds of automatons and running the institute wonderfully despite the Consul's doubts AND being a mother figure to all of the characters and a wife to Henry. I think if more people were like Charlotte, the world would be a better place.
Sophie: Another fantastic female character. I am still a major fan of Sophie and Tessa's friendship and I loved seeing Charlotte and Sophie's relationship change gradually from servant/master to more of a friendship. And the adorable-ness that is Gideon and Sophie's engagement made me incredibly happy.
Henry: I was so scared for a few pages in this book because it was alluded to that Henry had died. I didn't know what to do with myself, because Henry is one of my favorites in this wonderful band of characters. Luckily he did not, in fact, die. And I loved the scene with Magnus looking at and complimenting Henry's inventions. It was so cute how he wasn't used to anyone being interested in what he was building mainly because they couldn't understand it. Then Magnus comes along and he CAN understand it and is marveling at Henry's genius and Henry just didn't know how to handle it! And can we just talk about how perfect Henry was to Charlotte? He treated her as she deserved to be treated and he defended her so vehemently. Example,
"He underestimated you, and that is not a tragedy. That you have been proven to be better, cleverer, and stronger than anyone could have expected, Charlotte--it is a triumph."
HENRY, I FREAKING LOVE YOU.
"...What it would be like to have someone look at her as Henry looked at Charlotte--as if she were a wonder on the earth."
Gabriel: So surprisingly, I grew to love him in this book! And I loved him for Cecily (how ironic is it that he fell in love with Will Herondale's sister? haha). I was proud of him when he confessed to Charlotte about the letter that he didn't send, because I wanted to wring his neck when he wrote it.
Cecily: I don't know what I expected from Will's sister, but she delivered. She was funny, sassy, brave, and caring. You could see the resemblance in how they acted. They had quick tempers and sharp wits, but good intentions. I laughed right out loud when she commanded everyone to get out of the dining room so that Gideon could talk to Sophie!
Magnus: If I thought I loved him in the last two books, it was nothing compared to how I loved him in this one. He was so lovely to Will and Henry and everyone. And I was so in love with the passing mention that Magnus comforted Tessa when she cried out for Will after he died. If I end up reading The Mortal Instruments series, it'll most likely because I heard Magnus is in them.
Mortmain: We don't see much of him again in this book (Not as much as you typically see the antagonist of a story). But he's still cringe-inducing. In the short time that we see him, we see that he's totally messed up. I mean, he burned and slaughtered an ENTIRE VILLAGE as a practice run! What kind of messed up psycho does that? And he literally created a living breathing human being, for solely evil purposes.
Consul Wayland: I loved that some of the evil was coming from the inside the Clave. That made it even more twisted. He wasn't aligned with Mortmain, and he wasn't particularly evil, he was just INCREDIBLY selfish. He prominently did evil by doing nothing and by fearing. He feared his legacy would be overshadowed by Charlotte, and in fearing it he ensured it would happen.
Incredible Writing: CHECK
It's true that Cassandra Clare goes into a LOT of detail in this book about clothes and hair and what rooms (even the unimportant ones) looked like, but it never felt like too much, at least to me. Because by the end of this series I could picture the Institute completely, It sometimes felt like the Institute was a very real place in my brain, like it could conceivably exist. I could picture everyone eating breakfast together or meeting in the library. By the end of this series I had a full view of what the character's lives were and what they consisted of and I LOVED that.
And I adored the tiniest details that Cassandra included such as when in a particular conversation someone used the person's Christian name as opposed to their full name (Mr. or Miss). Or the fact that violins were playing when Will proposed to Tessa (Jem's signature instrument). It felt like this story was woven together the way it was for a reason, to make you live it with the book, and I did. It felt like I had actually entered the world of nineteenth century London and lived with the Shadowhunters for a few days and it was magnificent. Truly great books make you feel like you lived them, and that's exactly how I feel with this series.
**side note: I loved the letters to and from people sprinkled throughout the book. To and from the Consul and the Inquisitor. To and from Charlotte. From the Lightwoods. From Cecily to her parents. It showed a sort of behind-the-scenes look and I absolutely loved it.
and she did a fantastic job describing Cadair Idris. I googled it because I was curious and it was nearly identical to what the description led me to believe. (Also, I want to go there because BEAUTIFUL).
And, once again, the humor in this book was completely perfect. Most of it was concentrated into the beginning of the book as it got more serious as it went on. I'm not going to ramble about it, but just give some examples of moments when I just laughed aloud.
"Gabriel Lightwood is downstairs, and I have two words for you. Two of your favorite words, at least when you put them together."
"'Utter simpleton?'" inquired Will. "'Worthless upstart'?"
Jem grinned. "'Demon Pox,'" he said."
"I don't think you can fight because you're wearing a wedding dress," said Jem. "For what it's worth, I don't think Will could fight in that dress either."
"Perhaps not," said Will..."But I would make a radiant bride."
And yet another piece of writing from Will about Demon pox, granted the last one was a song and this is a poem, but still hilarious.
"Forsooth, I no longer toil in vain,
To prove that demon pox warps the brain.
So though 'tis pity, it's not in vain
That the pox-ridden worm was slain:
For to believe in me, you all must deign."
"Henry, I have something I wish to speak to you about. Something important."
"More important that our child being rocked gently to sleep each night?"
"I imagine that it will not be easy to persuade Mortmain into a bonnet," Magnus observed. "Though the color would be fetching on him."
"I don't know," Will said, eyeing her. "I'm afraid to answer that. I've heard that when I speak, it makes American women wish to strike me with umbrellas."
Wonderful Plot and Action and Continuity: CHECK
There was a good amount of action in this book mixed in among the politics and the treachery. It felt like a really good mix of those aspects from the first two books. The plot kept moving forward and I thought that the different perspectives that Cassandra chose to show certain events through first were quite interesting and clever (example: showing Jem's "death" first through Cecily's mind and THEN Will's). They didn't always make sense in the present, but in hindsight (knowing what she had been keeping a secret) I loved it. And so many things were referenced from earlier books. And while I had just read them in a row, repeating the exact passages in this book in italics was a really innovative idea for those who had to wait a year in between each book. I loved the whole situation with what the clockwork angel really was and how it was Mortmain's way of bringing Tessa's into the world and ironically, Tessa's way of sending Mortmain out of the world.
Heartbreaking and Heart Mending Epilogue: CHECK. CHECK. and CHECK.
But really. I teared up completely when reading all about Will and Tessa's life together and how Will never stopped being his own hilarious self. And about all of their kids and grandkids. And how their kids and grandkids were friends with Sophie and Cecily and Charlotte's children and grandchildren and ughh. just everything. EVERYTHING, I SAY. I have a feeling I'll reread this epilogue just to feel all the things time after time. It was just so perfect and sad and wonderful and bittersweet.
All in all this has become one of my very favorite series of all time. I am so sad that it's over, but I have a feeling that it's one of the series that I'll reread over and over and still find new things to love about.
"Sometimes one must choose whether to be kind or honorable," he said. "Sometimes one cannot be both."
"You know that feeling...when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can fell the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing close around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage, and you cannot let go or turn the course aside."
"Heroes endure because we need them. Not for their own sakes."
"Our hearts, they need a mirror...We see our better selves in the eyes of those who love us. And there is a beauty that brevity alone provides."
"Hope is not illusion."
"You endure what is unbearable, and you bear it. That is all."
"There are all sorts of ways of being rescued."
"But all invention comes with risk!"
"It is not easy to be first, and it is not always rewarding, but it is important."
"Is loyalty still a commendable quality when it is misdirected?"
"To have someone to turn to like that, and not to worry constantly that one was looking to the wrong stars."
"There was human goodness in the world, she thought--all caught up with desires and dreams, regrets and bitterness, resentments and powers, but it was there..."
"Life was an uncertain thing, and there were some moments one wished to remember, to imprint upon one's mind that the memory might be taken out later, like a flower pressed between the pages of a book, and admired and recollected anew."
"Glory. Such and odd word, something women are not supposed to want, but is not our queen triumphant?"
"...to have chosen this life is very different thing from having born into it."
"All men thought of themselves as good in the end, surely. No one believed themselves a villain."
"I feel like you can look inside me and see all the places I am odd or unusual and fit your heart around them, for you are odd and unusual in just the same way."
"And one does not question miracles, or complain that they are not constructed perfectly to one's liking."
"Change is not loss, Will. Not always."
"You are not the last dream of my soul. You are the first dream, the only dream I ever was unable to stop myself from dreaming. You are the first dream of my sould, and from that dream I hope will come all other dreams, a lifetime's worth."
"It is not easy to be different, and even less so to be unique. But I begin to think I was never meant for an easy road."