Those of you who have been reading my blog (or have heard me rant about books on a regular basis) may know that while I enjoyed The Mortal Instruments series
by Cassandra Clare, I wasn’t particularly sold on a few aspects of the series (particularly the extensive number of books in it). I was therefore, pleasantly surprised Clockwork Angel and subsequent novels Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess. The Infernal Devices are a lovely blend of fantasy, romance, adventure and historical fiction (historical in that it is set in Victorian London).
Theresa Gray is a young American woman who arrives in London during the late eighteenhundreds to reunite with the only family she has remaining: her older brother Nathaniel. However, instead of meeting her brother, Tessa is captured by two evil warlock sisters who force her into unlocking her own supernatural talents. Not only is Tessa alone and friendless, she has had everything she believes about herself and who she is thrown into question. The warlocks are preparing her for marriage to a shadowy and mysterious figure – the Magister. Of course, the story does not end here. She is rescued by two handsome young shadowhunters (one of whom she bashes over the head) and taken in by the Institute where she learns more about the supernatural world. Tessa must discover who the Magister is and what he wants with her as well as searching for her brother Nathaniel.
Of course, as we all know every damsel in distress must fall in love with her rescuer. Will Herondale is the handsome shadowhunter who saves Tessa and he is a mysterious and tormented soul. Clare alludes frequently to Will having a secret of some sort and to be honest, it is probably my curiosity about this that drove me through the first book. Every time he and Tessa start to get close, he pulls back or lashes out to keep her at arms length. I think the experience of getting mixed messages from someone you care about is something that many readers can relate to!
Alongside this confusion, there is the growing friendship with Will’s parabati, Jem. Jem has his own secret but he tends to actually be kind to people and Tessa grows to trust him deeply. Their friendship grows to the point that Tessa becomes confused about who she really has feelings for – Will or Jem?
So, there we have two key elements of teen fiction – the search for self discovery and the classic love triangle. In defense of the love triangle (which can often seem a bit trite) I think that Tessa has some very valid reasons to be confused about her feelings for each of her suitors.
I really did enjoy this series and while I got them out from my school’s library to read, I will eventually buy my own set of them because it was a story world I loved escaping into, and because there is a richness in the literary allusions that Clare weaves into her stories which is so often lacking in other literature. Overall I recommend this series. You don’t have to read the Mortal Instruments to enjoy it, but if you have read them it will be interesting as it ties in quite nicely with the final book, City of Heavenly Fire.
My rating for this series as a whole is 3.5/5