It’s been a while since I’ve delved into the world of the Shadowhunters.
In Victorian London, Tessa Gray is looking for her older brother, Nate, who mysteriously paid for her ticket to London, but failed to pick her up at the port. She soon discovers her only safe haven is the Institute, the home of Shadowhunters. Also known as the Nephilim, the Shadowhunters are part-angel, and the natural hunters of demons and police of the Downworlders.
Tessa soon learns that the supernatural world of the Shadowhunters is also hers. With unique powers of her own, she is pursued by the mysterious Magister. The Magister seems to hold all the cards: he wants Tessa, he has Nate, and he is raising a clockwork army. But who is the Magister? And what does he want?
What pulls you through this plot is the constant questions. Who is Tessa? What is she? Why does she have these powers?
What is wrong with Jem? Why is Jessamine so angry? Why is Will lying?
Who is the Magister? Why does he want Tessa? Where is Nate?
The plot keeps these questions circulating well enough that you want to continue reading.
I know I missing one key question: What the heck is going on between Will and Tessa? And honestly, I just felt that the romance was odd. It’s plausible to me, but at the same time misplaced. That might just be my eye-rolling at Will, though.
There are three main characters: Tessa Gray, Will Herondale, and Jem Carstairs. And I hate comparing books, but when an author dives into that dangerous gray water of companion series, it’s almost necessary. I haven’t read The Mortal Instruments in four years, and I only read the first three books, so it thought the comparison wouldn’t be so blatant to me.
When I read other novels by an author, I’m trying to get a feel if they can write more than one story. And in terms of Will Herondale…no, Clare can’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see why everyone swoons over this fictional character. He’s devilishly handsome, he’s got the cocky but hidden sensitive attitude, he’s got that troubled past that makes girls want to comfort him, but he’s obviously tortured so he won’t let you…he’s essentially Jace. A British, dark-haired Jace. Who reads.
As for Tessa, she is an interesting character in her own way. She’s a book nerd and has interesting powers. Her personality is pushy, but in the way that you know she means the best. She’s also naturally inquisitive, which I can appreciate. What I find ironic about her is that she’s so enamoured with great heroines, but has a rather closed mind about women’s abilities.
The character that surprises me is Jem. A pure gentleman with an intriguing backstory, Jem is easily my favourite character. He’s probably the most unique character Clare has ever written. There are some people who might write him off as a Gary Stu, but he’s got flaws outside of his physicality. (One is that he lets Will walk all over him quite a bit.)
The other members of the Institute I liked equally. Inventor Henry, motherly Charlotte, considerate Thomas, cheeky Sophie, and even prickly Janisette. Clare is very good at their interactions, which I enjoyed a lot.
The antagonists were…not expected, but not necessarily menacing either. I hope they get stronger over the course of the series.
The star in this book is Clare’s world building. I’m no history expert, so I have no idea whether or not the Victorian London she’s set up is well done or not, but in terms of world building she’s pretty good in terms of the supernatural side of things.
And, while you don’t necessarily need to read The Mortal Instruments, it certainly contains a better introduction to the Nephilim than this novel does.
I also need to mention the steampunk feel the novel has because I absolutely love it.
I like Tessa’s struggle with her identity. Not only does her exposure to the supernatural make her question her humanity, but also her ability makes her question if she exists as an individual. It’s the kind of inner sruggle that I like to read about.
A good start to a promising companion series, Clockwork Angel introduces a new cast of characters in a new setting, showing very little reliance on the original series.
Recommendation: Read. Fans of The Mortal Instruments should definitely check this story out. Also people looking for a fantasy/supernatural crossed with steampunk. (Is there such a demographic?)