Recent Reads: Victorian Badassness Edition

“Clockwork Angel”~ Cassandra Clare

Product Summary: (From Amazon.com)

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.

This close to the wedding, I need something that’s really going to prove to be relaxing, and an escape. I wanted a book that was interesting enough to absorb me completely into the world that the author aimed to create, and Cassandra Clare has managed to do it again.

“Clockwork Angel” is the first in the new Infernal Devices trilogy, which takes place in Victorian London. We get to experience some of the backstory of the Shadowhunters, and it’s a very different time than Clary and Jace’s world. The accords are newer, for one thing, and the Downworlders aren’t necessarily as trusting of the Nephilim as they are in “modern” times.

This book was a natural fit for me. Slap a “historical fiction kinda sorta but with vampires and such” on a book, and I’m all over it. The transition from NYC to Victorian London was awesome, complete with dialed-down shadowhunter weapons and an all new Institute. I very much enjoyed the new characters, and am waiting with bated breath to see how they develop.

The book begins with Tessa Gray arriving in England to live with her brother after the death of their only remaining relative. Though her brother Nate can’t meet her at the station, he sends some “friends of his employer” to escort her. These friends turn out to be two warlocks who are sent to kidnap Tessa and unlock her hidden power- the ablity to transform into another person at will. Tessa’s adventures really begin upon her rescue from the Dark House, when a group of Shadowhunters, including the dreamy Will Herondale, break in and usher her to freedom.

Following the narrative from that point on is a great deal of fun. In the Mortal Instruments Series, Cassandra Clare introduced us to Clary, who was unaware of the shadow world until her mother was kidnapped. The action for a while consisted of Clary learning the truth about her family’s past, and much of the first book is spent in exposition. In the Infernal Devices series, you’re thrown into the the thick of things right away, with Tessa learning that SHE is special, and how her entire life is going to change because of it. Instead of learning her backstory right up front, we’re taken along with her as she learns the purpose of the Institute and the Shadowhunters. Her backstory (most notably the source of her power- was it one of her seemingly normal parents?!) takes a bit of a back seat because the action comes fast and furious and never lets up.

The villain in this case is “The Magister”, a powerful figure whose identity is not revealed until the end, and who wants to marry Tessa to use her powers for his own gain. He’s also obsessed with— well, that would probably give too much of the story away. There are the requisite potential love interests in Will and James, but each boy has a great deal of baggage that Tessa will have to sort through before deciding if she wants to be with either. I have to admit, it’s a bit more refreshing than the potential incest between the leads in the Mortal Instruments. Will (for one) spends much less of the book hating himself than Jace did, which leaves more time for his quick wit and sexily careless chivalry.

Cassandra Clare writes just as convincingly in a past setting as the present, and I’m greatly looking forward to the next novel in the series.

ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!!!* Stay tuned to my blog in the coming weeks for some great book-related news! No really. You should do it.

*Note the multitude of exclamation points. This means I am very very very excited.

 

 

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