Clockwork Angel

March 10, 2012
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Set in Victorian England, “Clockwork Angel is full of all sorts of supernatural, mythical creatures, from vampires to werewolves. The first of a new series, “The Infernal Devices” this book follows the story of a young, 16 year old protagonist, Theresa “Tessa” Gray, who finds herself wound up in a surreal world after departing from New York, following an invitation from her brother, whom she hasn't spoken to for years after he left for England. Upon arrival, Tessa finds herself being ushered to a carriage by a strange character, who insists her brother, Nathaniel, sent for her. Once inside the carriage, she is greeted by two women, who call themselves the “Dark Sisters” and explain to Tessa that they are taking her to meet her brother.

We soon learn that the Dark Sisters have kidnapped Tessa, with no mean of taking her to meet her brother. Instead, they teach her how to make full use of her “power” a talent unknown to Tessa and individual in the world of Downworlders, a generic term for creatures such as faeries, werewolves, warlocks and vampires. The Dark Sisters say they are training Tessa for the “Magistrar” an unknown person for whom the Dark Sisters work for. After many weeks of torment, Tessa tries to escape to Dark Sisters, and by doing so meets with William Herondale, a Shadow Hunter following a lead on the Dark Sisters. Following a heated fight, in which William severs the head of Ms Black, both he and Tessa escape to the Institute, a home for Shadow Hunters.

Once the Shadow Hunters learn of Tessa power, and the ordeal she has been through, there is an investigation to find the “Magistrar”. The investigation leads to a mundane, Mr Mortmain, who explains he knows all about the Downworld that is hidden from the eyes of mortals, and that the head of the biggest vampire clan calls himself the “Magistrar”. Following a tip-off from another vampire, Camille, the Clave (an institute of Shadow Hunters) launch an attack on de Quiency's clan, in order to catch him, the leader, in the act of committing unlawful actions, such as the killing of mundane humans. During this attack, although de Quiceny escapes, the Shadow Hunters learn of the “Magistrar's” plans of building an automaton army to wipe out all Shadow Hunters and reign over the Downworld. Not being born of either the Angel or the Devil, the Shadow Hunters weapons would be useless. Furthermore, Tessa finds her brother, who was to be sacrificed by the vampires.

Once recovered from his ordeal, Nate tells the Clave more about de Quiency's plans on using demon energies to power them and make them unstoppable. The Clave then plan another attack on de Quiency, but William and his parabati, partner in fighting, James, must stay behind as they are too young. There is then unexpectedly a summoning of Shadow Hunters, where we learn that Mortmain knows that the Dark Sisters plan an performing a ritual on the automatons the give them demon energies. Worried, both William and James leave the Institute to kill the remaining Dark Sister. It is here both Shadow Hunters learn de Quiency isn't the “Magistrar”. Meanwhile, the automatons attack the Institute to kidnap Tessa.

I feel as though Cassandra Clare has fully captured how the life of young 16 year old girl may change when she finds herself placed in a situation in which there are many big forces acting around her that she just cannot understand. Suddenly, materialistic things such as doing well in life, or having a boyfriend, are no longer important. It is very difficult to incorporate mythical creatures such as vampire without a story seeming too homophobic, and Ms Clare has done exceptionally well not only with this series, but also her previous, “The Mortal Instruments”. She creates dramatic tension very well, and twists to the plot constantly make the story interesting to read. There are many books aimed at teenagers that involve to presence of mythical creatures, yet Ms Clare makes her stories seem far more real, as though hidden from our eyes, there really is a life of fighting fantasy creatures.

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