Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still. When 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. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.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. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
Hardcover, 476 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry
Four Stars: Fans of The Mortal Instruments will love this spinoff!
The massive steam liner at last docks in London. Tessa Gray, eagerly scans the throngs of faces, looking for the smiling face of her beloved brother, Nate. To her dismay he is not there! Anxiously, her eyes take in her new surroundings, as her trembling hand fingers the small, soothing, ticking, clockwork angel that adorns her neck. Tessa, left New York after the death of her motherly aunt, to rejoin her brother in London and she does not know a soul in this big, gray city, except for Nate. Finally, a strange, ugly man approaches and bids her to follow him. Not knowing what else to do, she complies. He leads her to a coach marked with a foreboding emblem, a pair of snakes eating each other's tails. Inside the carriage are two, rather frightening women. They introduce themselves as the Dark Sisters and hand her a letter written by her brother. At last a scrap of hope! Nate's penned words advise that he is unfortunately detained, but will be joining her soon. In the meantime, the ladies before Tessa, will look after her in his absence, as they are two of his trusted friends. With those words of encouragement Tessa boards the coach and enters a world of nightmares. Tessa becomes a prisoner of the malicious, spinster sisters. Daily they force her to unlock her secret ability. Unbeknownst to Tessa, she has a unique, magical talent, that allows her to change into anyone she wishes. After weeks of demanded, painful changes, she begins to despair. Where is her brother? What did these cruel women do to force Nate into this terrible betrayal? Finally, Tessa learns that the Dark Sisters are coercing her to marry someone named the Magister. In her darkest hour an unlikely hero, Will, a shadowhunter, stumbles into the sisters' evil lair and rescues Tessa; just like the knights in shining armor in her books. Now, she finds herself plunged into the world of the Downworlders and Shadowhunters. Who can she trust? Why does she have the ability to change?
What I Liked:
- The setting, this book takes place in London, 1878. It is the romantic era; filled with horse drawn carriages clopping along the gas lantern lit, cobbled streets, men decked out in hats, waist coats and pocket watches and women in lacy skirts, stiff corsets, buckled shoes, stylish hats, handkerchiefs, parasols and gloves. Cassandra Clare's 19th century backdrop whisks you to London and allows you to drink in the sites from a bygone time. I also loved the subtle steampunk additions, such as the clockwork army and the small, ticking clockwork angel (I want a clockwork angel pendant). If you like Steampunk books, then I am positive you will enjoy A Clockwork Angel.
- The characters, I throughly enjoyed Tessa, especially watching her mature and break free of the ideals for women in this era. She opens her eyes and understands that women are capable of more than swooning, batting of eyelashes and all the other delicate habits of the female persuasion in the 1800s. She learns to fight and stand up for herself. Then add in the two dashing male leads, Will and Jem for spice. Will, is stubborn, disrespectful, sarcastic and reckless; while Jem, is frail, kind, loyal, patient and respectful; two complete opposites and best friends. It is hard to choose between the two. I was excited to see Magnus Bane in his earlier years, though he is definitely more subdued, no glitter or glamour. I only wish that his role was more pronounced. Charlotte and Henry, the two caretakers of the Shadowhunter Institute are also a delightful addition. Charlotte is fierce and protective, her bold actions allow Tessa to see that women, too can be warriors. Her absent minded, bumbling inventor, husband Henry is so charming. He is, for me, a scene stealer, as I found myself smiling when he was in the picture. Ms. Clare knows how to create some memorable characters.
- The villains, before you go shaking your head thinking I am crazy for admiring the bad guys, let me explain. I loathed and detested each and every one of them (some I can't even mention by name because it would be a big, bad spoiler). The Dark Sisters with their twisted, cunning ways, the Magister with his clever, unique clockwork army (awesome, an army of robots made from clock parts) and one other treacherous betrayer, all meet in the pages to cause havoc for our heroes. I was open mouthed a couple of times when true identities and vicious agendas were revealed. Wicked, heinous, venomous snakes the lot of them! When an author can elicit that kind of response; one where you shudder when the evil doers appear and you are absolutely disgusted, then you know you have found a talented writer! Cassandra Clare is indeed a gifted author.
“One must always be careful of books," said Tessa, "and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
“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.”
“There's plenty of sense in nonsense sometimes, if you wish to look for it.”
“If no one in the entire world cared about you, did you really exist at all?”
“It's all right to love someone who doesn't love you back, as long as they're worth you loving them. As long as they deserve it.”
“Let me give you a piece of advice. The handsome young fellow who's trying to rescue you from a hideous fate is never wrong. Not even if he says the sky is purple and made of hedgehogs.”