Book Critique: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation:  A fitting beginning to the prequel in the Shadowhunter Chronicles, again testing the characters in love, romance, friendship; paving way to find themselves in the process; fight demons, personal and out there; and finally strive to make a difference.

Clockwork Angel is the first book in The Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare, first published in August of 2010. The story begins the long journey the three teenagers - Tessa, Will and Jem, go through in order to fight their demons, find their legacies and finally find a purpose to their lives.

I have read so far two series that Clare has written in The Shadowhunter Chronicles - The Mortal Instruments Series and it's spin-off The Dark Artifices. Although in the latter I am yet to read the last book. However I came across The Infernal Devices Series, which is set as a prequel to The Mortal Instruments, while I was reading The Dark Artifices books. 

Although each series can be read in itself, I always like to read from the beginning if they are connected. So I decided to switch to this series for now since this is set first per the timeline of the Shadowhunter Chronicles. If the reading order suggested on goodreads is followed, this book comes after City of Glass, the third book in The Mortal Instruments Series.

I had put off reading Clare's books for a while, almost an year, because of the plagiarism scandal she was involved in, that I read about; that most of her work is stolen from other books or authors or budding artists who submit their work for review, bullying them to cooperate and had also been sued by author Sherrilyn Kenyon, banned from fan fiction. So it left a bad taste in my mouth to pick her books. However, despite what the scandal and controversy, she does patch a well written plot with all her stolen pieces. So finally I gave in and here's my review.

We have met James "Jem" Carstairs and Theresa "Tessa" Gray first in The Mortal Instruments Series. Jace Herondale's heavenly fire transforms Brother Zachariah to what he was approx. 150 years ago, James Carstairs. Tessa we meet as one of the warlocks of the Spiral Labyrinth in the same series. In The Dark Artifices we see them married, that James is Emma Carstairs ancestor, that they need Emma and Julian Blackthorn's help on something. As for William Herondale, we have heard is name thrown around and about in both the series, even hints thrown that he is related to Jace Herondale; but nothing beyond that.

While reading the other two series, I always wondered what was the history between Jem and Tessa and who else were involved. Now, The Infernal Devices Series revolves around these three protagonists, setting the story when they were sixteen and seventeen year old kids approx 150 years ago in 1870s. That is where the plot in the first book begins, thus forming prequel to The Mortal Instruments Series.

Theresa "Tessa" Gray escapes narrowly from the clutches of the Dark Sisters from The Pandemonium Club and takes shelter with the Shadowhunters at their Institute in London. But they have captured her brother, Nathanial "Nate" Gray. Now with the help of the Shadowhunters, William "Will" Herondale and James "Jem" Carstairs, Tessa sets out to find and rescue her brother. Only the adventure takes turns and twists that Tessa never imagined she would go through when she first landed at Southampton port. 

Clare uses a similar recipe as her other two series that I read so far - a lost hero(ine) finding about themselves; a triangle love story; a common enemy; forbidden love; one protagonist self-destructive while other deeply loyal; one a white knight, other a black knight; mix in with obnoxious teen on the side and finally fighting to save the mankind in general from the demons. Typically they are also set around the heroine first then branches out to the other lead characters. A recipe she rinses, recycles and repeats; gives a new face to a similar tale.

Most of the families we meet here turn out to be ancestors of the characters we already saw in the other two series I read so far thus connecting all three sets. She also connects the series surprisingly by a cat named Church. Jem finds a cat on one of their hunts to fight the downworlders who break law and names him Church. If you remember the Mortal Instruments series set in New York also has a cat named Church in the institute there. 

Both Tessa and Will frustrated me, in a good way. So much anger in Will, so many emotions bottled up; while Tessa knowing that she is not what she is and unknown of her identity yet brave with a hint of foolishness. Two characters who are so well matched and yet totally poles apart. No wonder a fiery romance brews between them. 

Being that Tessa, Jem and Will are just but 16-17 year old teenagers, their penchant to feel immortal, arrogant, take quick actions, is so similar to every person that goes through that phase in their lives, be in 1800s or in 2020s. Clare brought out that part of their character really well. 

Clare also brings the element of how the Shadowhunters though protect the Humans aka Mundanes, ignore their intelligence. A fact that the Shadowhunters have corrected since the later two series set in the 2000s. She does bring words, fashion, food and places from the 1800s into the script wherever possible. 

Clare is friends with author Holly Black and frequently their characters appear in each other's books, and occasionally the plots overlap and form sort of cross-over books. I havent read any of Holly Black's books to confirm that. Perhaps one day I will pick them. I suppose because of all the scandals and controversies, despite how good the novels were, the Mortal Instruments series didn’t fare well either as the movie or the TV series it was made into. 

Clare prefaces the book with a poem called Thames River Song by a young poet Elka Coke. Each of the chapters she begins with quotes or poems by famous personalities just like she did with her two other series. I did notice a couple of these quotes from books from a later time than the period this plot was set in, including the poem by Elka Coke. I was wondering if Clare had made a mistake until I noticed her note at the end of the book where she acknowledges that she indeed has taken some quotes and poems from books that were printed later to the timeline in the book.

Despite her scandals and controversies on plagiarism, I must say that Clare introduced me to so many books from decades ago leading up to now. For that alone I am thankful to read her books. Of course the plots being really intense, complex and well-written, even if they were copied, adds to the pull and intrigue. 

A fitting beginning to the prequel in the Shadowhunter Chronicles, again testing the characters in love, romance, friendship; paving way to find themselves in the process; fight demons, personal and out there; and finally strive to make a difference.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Shadowhunters in this series - Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, & her husband Henry; Jessamine Lovelace; Benedict Lightwood & his son Gabriel; Frederick Ashdown; George Penhallow; Lilian Highsmith; Aunt Callida, Charlotte's Aunt; Consul Wayland; Sophie, their servant; their horses Balios & Xanthos, Sophie is in love with Jem.

b. Silent Brothers - Brother Enoch.

c. Downworlders we meet - Magnus Bane (obviously we have seen a lot of him as the High Warlock of New York in the prior two series. Here he is another warlock); Lady Camille Belcourt (we know her has the leader of the vampire clan in New York in the current period where the previous two series are set. Here she is another vampire living in London); Ragnor Fell; Alexei De Quincey (head of the London vampire clan); Archer, Camille's subjugate. Camille and Magnus are lovers in this timeline.

d. Henry Branwell loves to tinker. Some of his inventions are a Sensor to sense demon energies; flame retardant mixture to help from getting burned; a Phosphor that can be used to signal help.

e. Nathaniel "Nate" Gray, Tessa's brother, serves Mortmain, and disappears with the Pyxis, box that holds demon energy, at the end of the plot. 

f. Mortmain, Nate's employer & the Magister of The Pandemonium Club, creates the mechanical automatons to wage a war on shadowhunters. He is human but with occult talent. He also knows the reason why Tessa was created. He also disappears at the end of the plot.

g. Jem and Tessa decide to figure out who is Tessa and where she has come from while Will shuns Tessa away even though he loves her. 

h. Will gives The Shadowhunter's Codex to Tessa to read and learn about the shadowhunters. Author Clare had released a book of the same name in 2013 co-authored by Joshua Lewis. 

2. Sub-Plots: 

a. From The Mortal Instruments Series:

i. What are the old ties between Herondales and the Silent Brothers? Curious to see how Kit and Jace Herondale will be connected.

ii. In City of Souls, the angel Raziel, calls Simon as Simon Maccabees, an ancestor of Simon. A story behind it?

iii. In City of Heavenly Fire, no closure to Lilith is shown. Also what consequences will Magnus and Isabelle face for using spell to get Simon's memories back at the end of the book. Sparks fly between Maia and Bartholomew "Bat" Velasquez, her second-in command.

iv. At the end of the series The Fair Folk - fairies - are punished severely by The Clave for their role in the war waged by Sebastian Morgenstern. The consequences of that punishment and the fate of Seelie Queen get woven into The Dark Artifices books.

v. Where the character are as of Lord of Shadows book - Jace Herondale and Clary Fairchild set out to find the weapon with both the Courts of Faerie left by Sebastian. Jace proposes to Clary, but Clary asks for more time. Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane adopt a second son - Rafael - an orphan shadowhunter from Argentina, they have an adopted warlock child, Max since Lady Midnight book; also head the Shadowhunter-Downworlder Alliance along with Maia Roberts (head of Werewolves) and Lily Chen (head of the Vampire Clan). Alec becomes temporary head of London Institute.

b. From The Dark Artifices Series up until the second book that I read:

i. Main Characters  - Emma Cordelia Carstairs; Julian Blackthorn and his siblings - the twins Livvy and Tiberus "Ty", Mark Antony and Helen (step-siblings), Octavius "Tavvy", Drusilla "Dru".

ii. Will Livvy and Ty become parabatai? Why does Ty not want to join the Scholomance? Why does Ty's hair look different than the rest of Blackthorns?

iii. Sparks fly between Drusilla "Dru" and Jaime, Diego's brother.

iv. Brother Zachariah aka James "Jem" Carstairs and Theresa "Tessa" Gray are married now. An ancestor to Emma, needs Emma and Julian's help. And have been looking for a cure for the sickness all the warlocks are facing. 

v. Diana Wrayburn, tutor to the kids at the Los Angeles Institute, dates Gwyn ap Nudd, leader of the Wild Hunt.

vi. Julian throws a false trail to Anselm Nightshade, head of vampires of LA, and gets him under the wrath of the Inquisitor, in order to save Julian's family.

vii. Annabel Blackthorn after being risen from dead, kills Malcolm and takes the Black Volume of Dead. She also kills Robert Lightwood and Livvy in a frenzy to escape The Council, but is abducted by the King of Unseelie Court at the end of the second book.

viii. Kit, Livvy and Ty meet Shade, a hooded warlock, who helps them read the aletheia crystal - a memory-holder. Who is Shade?

ix. Mark and Cristina finally form a couple, although Kieran says Cristina is his something. Kieran also goes to Scholomance with Diego.

x. Dru meets a faerie named Ash with green eyes in the faerie land.

xi. Emma and Julian decide to go on exile while Magnus and his friends try to find a way to break their parabatai bond without harming them or other parabatai and overcome the curse. But Robert Lightwood is killed before the terms of exile are enforced.

xii. The Riders of Mannan -  Karn, Etarlam, Eochaid, Delan, Airmed, Fal, and Ethna (the only female member) - attack the Blackthorns for the Black Volume of Dead. Emma kills Fal in the ensuing battle.

xiii. Kit Herondale becomes more and more mysterious.

c. Some of the places, food, movies and books that are referenced:

i. Tessa likes to read books such as Great Expectations, Little Women, The Wide Wide World by Susan Warner, Oliver Twist!, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Armadale & The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. The Lamplighter by Maria Susanna Cummins, Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, Inferno by Dante, 

ii. Will has a penchant to quote from famous books and personalities - Sir Galahad poem by Alfred Tennyson; Boadicea Poem by Tennyson; The Trail of the Serpent by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, A Tale of Two Cities, Prothalamion by Edmund Spenser and The Corporeal City from Blake Milton's Jerusalem. 

iii. Magnus mentions The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices by three Persian brothers known as Banu Musa in 850.

3. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 88, Line 7 from bottom, shouldn’t it be "…chop off someone else's head…"


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