A review of Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Reviewed by Emily McDonell

Clockwork Angel
The Infernal Devices Book 1
by Cassandra Clare
Walker Books
ISBN: 9781406365269, Paperback, Feb 2016

Clockwork Angel is the first book in The Infernal Devices – the prequel series to Cassandra Clare’s unforgettable Mortal Instruments series. Set in the late 1800s in England, the story follows Tessa Grey, a young American girl who has arrived in London, as she discovers the many secrets of the Shadow World which Clare has created with exquisite detail and imagery. Along the way, Tessa discovers Downworld and the supernatural creatures who belong to it including vampires, warlocks and other paranormal beings.

Whilst trying to find her brother, who has disappeared, Tessa finds herself imprisoned by The Dark Sisters who belong to The Pandemonium Club – a secret organisation of both paranormal and normal beings who involve themselves with magic.

Unlike the Mortal Instruments, the plot of Clockwork Angel focuses on ordinary people’s (referred to as “mundanes” by Shadowhunters) involvement in supernatural and occult activity. This gives the reader an idea of the danger in dealing with paranormal happenings, making them more aware of Shadowhunters –warriors who rid the world from demons, and their purpose in our world. Mundanes and downworlders alike seem to be related to the appearance of the mysterious and sinister clockwork creatures lurking in London.

Cassandra Clare has stunningly executed London during the late 1800s by using real places, some of which are still in existence today, such as Blackfriars Bridge. Clare also elaborates on what limited rights women had in those times as well as how women were perceived to be ‘not strong’ and most certainly ‘not warriors’. This is another theme which the author tackles in Clockwork Angel: Tessa discovers her inner power and strength and how to use it to her benefit.

The characters in this novel are exceptionally well-written and once you start to learn who they are you can’t help getting attached to them. This includes, particularly, Will Herondale and James (Jem) Carstairs, Shadowhunters who Tessa forms a strong friendship with.

This book would appeal to readers between the ages of 14-18. Clockwork Angel is a terrific fast-paced read that is a perfect starting novel of The Infernal Devices. Fans of The Mortal Instruments or any of Cassandra Clare’s other writing, will love Clockwork Angel. Those who adore fantasy series and new fictional worlds will find Clockwork Angel another book which can be a part of their favourites – it’s one of mine! I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a new series to lose themselves in.

About the reviewer: Emily McDonell was first prize winner in the Hunter Writers’ Centre/Compulsive Reader book review competition.  She is a high school student, an avid reader and has a passion for books. It was clear from a very early age that books would play a large part in her life. Emily has participated in the Premier’s Reading Challenge since starting her schooling and her favourite subject is English. Emily has also been a Girl Guide for the past nine years and is currently working to complete her Queen’s Guide Award. Emily also loves animals especially her dog Jersey.