If you’ve been reading these book reviews, you may have noticed that I jumped over from The Mortal Instruments series to The Infernal Devices series. What can I say? I’m capricious. Actually, I’ve heard from several sources that City of Fallen Angles isn’t actually that great, and that was my next book in The Mortal Instruments. It didn’t give me a big incentive to run right out and read that. Eventually, I’ll get to it though, I promise. However, word on the street is that Clockwork Angel from The Infernal Devices is really good, and I’d have to agree.
Leaving modern day New York and heading back to Victorian London made for a nice change of pace, and while Ms. Clare admits that some of her locations don’t actually exist, it doesn’t detract from the story. Clockwork Angel finds Tessa Gray embroiled in…adventures. Like, Clary in The Mortal Instruments, Tessa doesn’t go looking for excitement, but it certainly found her. As the series name implies, The Infernal Devices has a darker feel than The Mortal Instruments, and focuses more heavily on those outside the Shadowhunter society. Warlocks, Vampire and Mundanes all play heavily in the story, and I like it. There is a bit of mystery surrounding Tessa. Mangus Bane also makes a reappearance, and I enjoy his character. Although, he hasn’t quite developed the flamboyancy that is his hallmark when he gets to modern day New York.
This is a good, fast-paced read. Interesting plot lines with some great twists and turns along the way. Clare’s characters have depth and purpose. As soon as the cover closed on The Clockwork Angel I was cracking The Clockwork Prince open to find out what happens next. As with The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices moves quickly and expertly though the story arc. Clare has added much needed depth to the characters at the beginning that was lacking before, but has the pendulum swung too far in the other direction?
Enough comparisons however, let’s get into what makes this book tick. (I know! I couldn’t resist!) Let’s tackle the characters, in order of appearance…well, more or less, anyway. Tessa Gray, she’s resourceful and solid. She’s also American, and as a character she reflects that whole pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps vibe that is associated with the American Dream. Tessa’s perseverance in the face of adversity and determination to keep her emotional turmoil private is something that resonates. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still broken, and willfully blind to certain things, but that gives her humanity. The dark past gives her mystery.
William Herondale is the swoop-in-dashingly-to-save-the-day sort of guy, maybe. Uncovering the many layers of Will Herondale will take some work…and a shovel. Seriously, this guy has it piled on so thick that the only obvious truth is that the reader has no idea what the truth actually is about Mr. Herondale. He’s a broken man with secrets. It gives him mystery. (Are you beginning to see a pattern?)
James (Jem) Carstairs takes on the role of the strong silent type. The perfect foil to our young Herondale. Fair where Will is dark, quiet when Herondale is outspoken, thoughtful instead of brash, and with a mysterious illness that weakens him in opposition to William’s strength and health. The pattern emerges, and I begin to wonder if Jem is a bit too likable. Will he turn on us, or is his fatal flaw only the illness he bears with grace.
Then we have Jessamine. This poor girl hates everything about her life…with the exception of the wealth and privilege. She hates the role that has been thrust upon her and does everything in her power to ignore her duties and be the spoiled mundane she wishes she could be. In a cast of broken characters, she may be the most broken of them all. It is hidden beneath disdain and an air of entitlement, but there are glimpses of desperation. It is all very mysterious.
All these main character have so many hidden layers that it is like playing clue. The reader has no idea who actually plays which role. Hero? Villiain? Cannon fodder? Now, I’m all about leaving a bit to be uncovered later. There are another two books to come after all. However, everybody in this book has a secret or a dark past or unknown origins. All these hints but no revelations. Really? Does everyone you know have a big dark secret that everybody knows is there but no one talks about? Get real. Of course people hide things, but everybody from the main character to the maid has a secret to hide. It makes for interesting reading, but it is completely unbelievable.
Don’t get me wrong, the plot is interesting, the characters have depth and layers and the pacing isn’t bad. In a novel containing so many supernatural beings, the unbelievable bit is the lengths to which the author went to make every major character…broken. The conflict arising in the plot doesn’t cause those living in the London Institute nearly as much angst as past events that we only glimpse do. Tension runs high because of mysterious events surrounding the Lightwood girl and William that no one discusses. Don’t even get me started on the leaders of the institute. Clare has gone from characters who developed too slowly to characters who’s profound mystery feels like the same kind of plot device that the lack of depth felt like in The Mortal Instruments.
However, that doesn’t detract from its’s enjoy ability in the least. I have to keep reading, if for no other reason than to uncover all the secrets! Time to grab my shovel and keep digging.
The demon exploded in a shower if ichor and guts.
‘Til next time,