Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices: Book 1)

After reading the blurb on the back of Cassandra Clare’s The Clockwork Angel, my first reaction was – Oh no! Not again!

Why? Because it reads, ‘…Drawn ever deeper into their world, she [Tessa Gray] finds herself fascinated by – and torn between – two best friends…’

Seriously, how many morbid love triangles can an average human being take in a lifetime?

Against my better judgment, I went and bought the book. I don’t know why – especially since The Mortal Instruments turned out to be an immortal nightmare – and I’m glad I did!

Although Clare’s creation of Angel warriors and their escapades were haunting and unique, I failed to see why it had caused such a lot of frenzy in the fangirl circles. I admit I did not for even a second succumb to the wannabe bad-boy charms of Jace Wayland and his gleamy blonde hair. For me he was just way too perfect. There is no way there is such a boy in real life. So smooth and good looking and sarcastic and smooth (Did I already say that?)

But there is a stark difference to Will Herondale of this series who is also a smart talking hottie. He seems more real, more three dimensional and someone I can actually empathize with, never mind his pretty boy attitude. Perhaps it’s because Will is somewhat damaged by something other than what made Jace a flawed hero. When Will crumples up, the reaction would be to help him stand but with Jace, I’m like, ‘Get a grip man!’

The rest of the characters in the book are quite well developed. The added Victorian setting seems to romanticize them just a tad further making them almost shine in the dark. Which is why I previously thought - and still think - that Clare would have been better off writing Victorian era novels.

There is also one more thing that endears the story to me. When I am reading the parts about Jem or Will or Tessa, I get distinct imagery of a manga that I used to read called Vampire Knight. The silver-haired Jem and the contrastingly dark Will are very similar to the protagonists love interests in the manga. Maybe Clare based her characters on the manga as she too must be a manga fangirl, something I picked up from her style of creating images and from the Naruto manga that Max Lightwood was always carrying around.

So the doubter has been converted. As far as I’m concerned, The Clockwork Angel is a great book and a good start to another series that will hopefully end in three and not drag on as trilogies tend to these days. Because I would love to get to know Jem and Will more and I would still pick a side as I have done with the rest of the love triangles and cheer my man to the finish regardless of whom Tessa finally chooses – probably not the one I choose.

After all, it seems that is the main reason why love triangles are written into fantasy today. Because no matter what, we love to watch people fight for love.

Clockwork Prince is now out and the third title in the near future.
Dash Cooray


Stephenie Meyer has got a lot to answer for. With the success of her Twilight series she became a literary phenomenon, the kind that only comes along once in a while and when it does it has a lasting impact on the book industry. In the last decade only J.K. Rowling and Steig Larsson have had a similar effect and not just with book sales, but also with the types of books that have got published, and have been in turn successful. Post Rowling children’s fantasy writing has never been more popular and adults are reading these titles in way not seen since the likes of Tolkien and Lewis. Larsson’s Millennium trilogy has transformed crime writing into a Nordic dominated genre with the likes of Arnaldur Indridason and Joe Nesbo becoming bestsellers and old favourites like Henning Mankell getting a new and voracious audience.

Meyer’s influence has been equally profound; her books have created a new genre not seen before in book stores or on the pages of online retailers, the genre of Dark Romance. Oh yes, it now seems that every new book published with a hint of supernatural doings and aimed at the teenage market is lumped into this convenient dump bin, a series of authors have been pigeonholed with this unfortunate tag. Cassandra Clare is one of these authors.

Her new book Clockwork Angel is a prequel to her hugely successful Mortal Instruments series. Set in Victorian London the book tells the story of Tessa Grey, a sixteen year old orphan newly arrived from New York and in search of her brother Nate who has invited her to start a new life across the pond. But when she arrives Nate is nowhere to be seen and instead Tessa is greeted by supposed friends of her brothers, the Dark sisters. Tessa’s hopes of a fresh, new life are dashed as she is abducted by the Dark sisters and drawn into London’s Downworld, a supernatural realm populated by vampires, werewolves, daemons and the Shadowhunters, the police of this otherworldly gas lit city.

Tessa soon realises that her previous life was just a fantasy, and along with the Shadowhunters and an undiscovered power she never knew existed, she must stop a dark evil from rising.

In reality Clockwork Angel shares more with the works of Neil Gaiman that it does with Meyer. Ignore the quote on the back of the book from the Twilight author and read story for what it is, entertaining teenage fantasy.

Tessa Grey is a good central character, naive and bookish when she first arrives, she is changed by the journey she must undertake and the people she meets along the way. Her struggles with family, friends and her new power keep the reader interested. But the best characters are the Shadowhunters, best friends Will and Jem are engaging and complex. Their relationship is a close but fragile one and a lot of the book is devoted to their different ways of pursing Tessa. Other Shadowhunters who stand out include the odd married couple Charlotte and Henry, Charlotte is tough but also slightly overwhelmed by the responsibilities that she carries and Henry is a tinkering inventor, most happy in his laboratory and would be at home in any Wallace and Gromit animation.

The evil characters are less interesting, the Dark sisters have their moments but I feel are underused. The vampire characters who are supposed to be behind the mayor conspiracy that is central to the plot of the book are a bit uninspiring. Clare has created a rich, believable world and I feel she could have done more than just your stereotypical pale skinned, beautiful vampire.

The book is essentially about love, not just the ‘romance’ kind (although there are enough chest heaving moments to keep the teenage market happy) but all kinds of love. The love for family and difficult friends, the love for a way of life, the love for home and familiarity, all these themes jostle for attention within the plot.

Ultimately Clare has delivered a solid, fantasy novel and one that deserves to be read outside of the usual crowd that will be attracted to it by its clever marketing.
Charlie White

8/10 A solid, fantasy novel and one that deserves to be read outside of the usual crowd.

Reviews by and Dash Cooray

3 positive reader review(s) for Clockwork Angel

Cassandra Clare biography

Clockwork Angel reader reviews

from UK

Love this series. 100% improvement over the Mortal Instruments Series. Love Tessa, and Jem, well he is a gem :) The ending was pleasantly surprising as well. It didn't stick too much to the obvious (in terms of the love triangle scenario) which I fully appreciated.
9/10 ()

from India

It's an awesome book. The story flows in a creepy intense manner, providing a great interest to read and enjoy. The character shade of Will and Jace is very very similar. Definitely worth your time to read.
8/10 ()

from Australia

I love this book, wayyyy more than the Mortal Instruments!!! But... concerning the villians, in my opinion there were too many! The Dark Sisters, vampires, the Magister, Tessa's brother... It's kind of overwhelming. But despite that, It's still one of my favourite books of all time!
10/10 ()

from Sri Lanka

In my opinion it is a much better book than any of its sequels, The Mortal Instruments. However, there are stark similarities; Clare has been praised for creating a unique anti-hero in Jace Wayland but I find Will Herondale to be too much like him I have difficulty distinguishing between the both of them. You can only like an arrogant, drop dead gorgeous smart mouth so much! This is repeated with every character. Jem and Simon, Tessa and Clary, Jessamine and Isabelle. Other than that, it is a great novel, I love the descriptions and the setting and the staid way they address each other. Maybe Clare could stick to writing Victorian era fantasy. I'd like that!
6/10 ()

8.1/10 from 5 reviews

All Cassandra Clare Reviews