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Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book…

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1) (edition 2010)

by Cassandra Clare

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5,050299892 (4.12)141
Title:Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1)
Authors:Cassandra Clare
Info:Margaret K. McElderry (2010), Hardcover, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:YA, young adult, for review, BEA, read in 2010, historical fiction, steampunk, urban fantasy

Work details

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

  1. 80
    The Mortal Instruments Series (Books 1-3) by Cassandra Clare (TomWaitsTables)
  2. 70
    A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: Both are darker YA Victorian fantasies.
  3. 20
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (souci)
    souci: Also set in London's past, with a supernatural connection
  4. 31
    Soulless by Gail Carriger (macart3)
    macart3: This book is steampunk, the humor is dry, and deals with the supernatural.
  5. 10
    Goliath by Scott Westerfeld (LAKobow)
  6. 10
    A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee (kathleen.morrow)
    kathleen.morrow: While Lee doesn't include paranormal elements, the tales are similar in their suspenseful nature, their realistic Victorian setting, and their strong female characters.
  7. 00
    The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer (LAKobow)
  8. 11
    The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle by Catherine Webb (HatsForMice)
    HatsForMice: Henry fan? Victorian-London-set-fantasy fan? Brilliant things fan? Horatio Lyle.
  9. 00
    Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Friederike.Geissler)

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Background: The Clockwork Angel follows a teenage girl named Tessa Grey on her journey to meet her brother, Nathaniel, in London, only to be kidnapped and thrust into the world of the supernatural aka Downworld. She finds out that she herself is part of this evil world, and can transform herself into other people at will. Finally, Tessa learns that not everyone in this new world is evil when she is rescued by the Shadowhunters by a fluke.
Once safe from her impending doom of being kidnapped, Tessa begins to search for her brother, only to learn more interesting things about herself, her past, and her family that were never revealed. Sooner than she could have imagined, she has to help the Shadowhunters in their war to find out who was aiding her kidnappers and why.

Review: I loved this read, more so than the Mortal Instruments series. Clare portrays Victorian London perfectly, down to the lit city and the clothing. I found the characters in this series are more intriguing and Tessa is a strong female lead. While a long read, almost 500 pages, it was a very well told story. We learn about Tessa and her life, and about her situation and then move into action with the Shandowhunters as they try to solve the mystery of who is inventing automatons and why. It kept me on my toes and I was willing to learn more about the characters and their personalities, in my case, that is great!
( )
  sszkutak | Sep 28, 2016 |
I like Tessa. She is interesting. She is afraid of others and afraid of herself. She has experienced a lot of hardship, even before her kidnapping. Even though she's had such a difficult life, and a terrifying few weeks, Tessa still loves deeply and easily.

I really don't like Will Herondel very much. I know he's a lot of people's book crush, but he's very like Jace, and I didn't like Jace that much either. Arrogant, selfish characters usually irritate me to no end, and, while Jace had a tragic backstory and Will appears to have one as well, it's rare for the backstory to make me like an irritating character enough to make me forgive their irritating or cruel behavior. Will and Tessa's relationship felt unnatural. It seemed normal for Will, who seems to be a player, to be attracted to pretty Tessa, and it seems normal for Tessa to be attracted to handsome Will. What seemed odd was how quickly Will decided that he actually loved her, instead of just wanting to use her. The other odd thing is that Tessa is a smart girl who has read lots of books. You'd think she'd have known--or at the very least taken Sophie's words under advisement--that Will was not a good person to love. From what I could tell, Tessa had stayed at the Institute of about a week. That seems far to soon for she and Will to have grown to love each other, especially since their personalities don't seem like they would mesh well. That said, I did like the epilogue, since it seemed to show some character growth (finally) on Will's part.

I really like Gem. We don't get to know him as well as Tessa and Will, but he is a very good man. I like that about him. What I don't like is that it seemed like the author was setting up a potential love triangle (or square, maybe) between Will, Tessa, Gem (and Sophie.)

Charlotte, Henry and Jessamyn were interesting characters as well. I liked Charlotte's brave, no-nonsense attitude, especially because of her obvious affection for Henry. I really liked Henry. He's the typical bumbling, but brilliant genius who isn't always aware of the affect his words and actions might have. Jessamyn isn't meant to be likeable. I hated her at first. She is somewhat like Will in her arrogance and selfishness, but, though, like Will we only got a small glimpse of her tragic backstory, the glimpse made me understand her desire to get away from the Shadow World, and it made me think that she may be suffering from some psychological problems. I also liked her more than Will because she showed incredible bravery when she had to, where as, mostly lacking fear, Will was merely reckless.

I'm still not sure how I felt about the villain. He was sinister and his ability to manipulate so many people is downright terrifying, but we have so few answers about his motives, that I still can't tell whether he's going to be a strong or weak character.

Overall the plot went very well. There are some interesting new tidbits on the Shadow World, and the tension in the plot kept me reading past midnight, but most of the questions we had were not resolved at the end of the story. I understand that this is a trilogy and the author has to keep us engaged enough to want to continue the series, but I wished that we would have gotten some answers, so that the book would have felt somewhat satisfying at the end. ( )
  NicoleSch | Sep 17, 2016 |
This review can also be found on my blog, The Review Court, here.

I have some mixed feelings about this one. But everyone says it’s better than The Mortal Instruments so I’ll stay at it. I really hope that Clare takes out these love triangles or potential love triangles in her future series. I am so sick of love triangles. Aside from that I already have some spoilers to the story having read The Mortal Instruments [TMI] first and then reading her site about the 2 new series.

Warning: Do not try to find out what The Last Hours series is about if you want to read this one. It takes places between this series and TMI and has some characters who are in this series and it will totally spoil the series for you, as it did for me.


Theresa Gray [Tessa] travels to London from New York in 1878 after her aunt and guardian passes away, to meet her brother, who moved away to work. However, she is greeted by 2 ladies who say they were sent by her brother. Except when she arrives at the house, her brother isn’t there and she is held a prisoner. There she finds out that she is a skin-changer and is ultimately rescued by Shadowhunters from the London Institute. Over the course of the book, the story proceeds but rather slowly. Somehow Tessa’s imprisonment, her brother being lost and some string of crimes happening in the shadow world are connected and the Shadowhunters must figure it all out before it’s too late.

Granted that this book was a quick read, it wasn’t as action packed as I expected. Tessa really needs to get some training in fighting so we can see some action from her.


Does anyone else not like Will? I don’t really like him. I think he’s an asshole and really rude to Tessa. So what if he is handsome? He is rude throughout the entire book to her. There are only a couple occasions that he was really nice. And I’m not saying maybe there isn’t something more at work here making him feel confused but he is still an asshole.

I loved Jem. He is so the opposite of Will in personality, that I have no idea how they get along at all. Except that maybe they both just accept each other for who they are and don’t try to make them into something else or try to understand them too much, like everyone else does.

Tessa, is naive. But I will forgive her for it. She has really lived a sheltered life. It made me sad when she started to compare all the relationships in the books she read to what she was going through. It goes to show you that you can’t just let your children read anything, you need to teach them as well. Books can teach you good and bad things.

The other characters are okay. I didn’t particular like or dislike Jessamine. I wish I knew more about Thomas. I rather liked Charlotte and Henry.


Like I said, I think the story could have benefited from some work on the pacing but overall it was very interesting. I loved the twist to the end of the story. I felt like an idiot because I didn’t see that coming. I am hoping that it only gets better from here. ( )
  kayjenx | Sep 14, 2016 |
I first read Mortal Instruments and then my daughter said I had to read this trilogy which is like a prequel to the other. This one is set back in 1870s and some of the characters are in the Mortal Instruments. It gives you a little bit of history about the shadowhunters and the ancestors of the characters in Mortal Instruments. In this book the main character is Tessa who goes to London to live with her brother Nate after their Aunt dies. She gets kidnapped and pulled into the lives of shadowhunters and downworlders. I always find this era interesting to read because they didn't have cell phones and so if someone needed to be contacted to tell them they are headed into a trap, you couldn't. I found the automatons very creepy. This a very entertaining book. I got the entire trilogy to read at once so I wouldn't have to wait and try to remember what happened. I really enjoy Cassandra's writing. If you like this genre, then take a chance with this trilogy and the Mortal Instruments series, you won't be disappointed. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
Way better than what I was expecting...
The Victorian setting is really amazing and the characters complex and compelling. The world building is genius so it is really difficult not to get completely absorbed into the story.
Really good and extremely addicting. ( )
  FilipaCorreia | Jun 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 297 (next | show all)
Following the untimely death of her aunt, twice-over orphaned Tessa Gray sets out from New York to London to live with her older brother. Virtually penniless, having spent every last cent to pay for the funeral services, Tessa makes the trip across the Atlantic with her hopes high, for at least she and Nate will be reunited again.

Upon reaching England, however, she is greeted not by her older brother but by two crones that introduce themselves as Mrs. Dark and Mrs. Black, bearing a letter written in Nate’s hand. Though Tessa is reluctant to leave with the “Dark Sisters” (as Nate refers to them in his letter), she trusts in her brother’s wishes, only to find herself trapped in a nightmare. The Dark Sisters, in fact warlocks, claim to have abducted Nate and threaten to kill him unless Tessa complies with their strange demands. Soon, Tessa learns that she is no ordinary human, but possesses the power to transform herself into another person—dead or alive. Even more unique, however, is Tessa’s ability to touch the minds of those whose forms she assumes—recalling a dead girl’s last thoughts and a vampiress’s secrets, amongst others. The Dark Sisters, finally deeming Tessa “ready,” have plans to marry her off to their master, the mysterious “Magister” of the Pandemonium Club, and all hope seems lost for young Tessa…

That is, until a mysterious, handsome young Shadowhunter comes to Tessa’s rescue. Soon she is swooped away again into a new world, seeking refuge with the Shadowhunters—a society of nephilim (that is, the offspring of angels and humans) charged with the duty of protecting humanity from Downworlders (that is, demons, warlocks, vampires, etc) at any cost. Tessa and her brother are keys to a much larger conspiracy, as the Shadowhunters soon discover the Pandemonium Club and its Magister have hatched a plot to rid the world of Shadowhunters altogether, by means nefarious, and mechanical.

Of course, in the midst of all this gloom and doom, Tessa finds time to fall in love with not one but TWO gorgeous Shadowhunters, who (of course!) find Tessa irresistible. Besides trying to save the world and her brother, Tessa also must come to terms with the dictates of her heart.

Clockwork Angel, published by Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), is the first book I have read from Cassandra Clare (I have been assured that the Mortal Instruments trilogy is not a necessary prerequisite to reading Clockwork Angel), and as an introduction, I must say that I am somewhat… underwhelmed. Ms. Clare’s writing is certainly readable and entertaining, but in the way of bad reality television or MTV shows.

The overarching story—that of the mystery of the Pandemonium Club, the identity of The Magister, and their plans to overthrow the Shadowhunters—lacks complexity and tends towards the hyperdramatic and predictable, but for all that is generally well-paced, fun stuff. Though the quality of the prose and general flow of the novel lacks any sort of writerly finesse in its blunt simplicity and affinity for the cheesiest dialogue I have read in a very long time (i.e. Tessa to The Magister, expressing terror at his desire to marry her: “But why? You don’t love me. You don’t know me. You didn’t even know what I looked like! I could have been hideous!”), the story in itself isn’t bad. That’s not where the brunt of my disappointment with the novel lies.

No, what I take issue with is the novel’s unconvincing period setting, its ridiculous characterizations, and above all, the same Twilightified-Mary Sue heroine meets two superhawt supernatural dudes that fall for her trope.

First, the setting and period. Purportedly, Clockwork Angel is a steampunk novel, although the only real steampunkish thing about it is the time period (set in Victorian London) and the presence of a slew of killer automatons. To me, this does not a true steampunk novel make, as Clockwork Angel lacks either necessary quality (the centrality of steam-powered aesthetic/technology, or the socio-economic critique) to be truly considered a work of the steampunk subgenre. Furthermore, the character dialogue feels as though an American author is trying—unsuccessfully—to write in the Victorian period. In truth, this novel could have taken place in any other time period, in any other country, and it still would have been the same book.

With regard to characterizations, Ms. Clare’s cast in Clockwork Angel similarly leaves much to be desired. Heroine Tessa is nothing if she isn’t a sickening hybrid self-insertion blank page heroine Mary Sue—she’s so very understanding of others’ faults (at one pivotal point in the book, for example, “Tessa felt a wave of frustrated anger, but pushed it back. Sophie had just had a friend die in her arms; she could hardly be blamed for forgetting a key”), mindlessly devoted to her beloved brother (no matter how terribly he has wronged her), generally pretty and tall, with the only drawback to her appearance being how thin and pale she is, and how her hair is brown. Most importantly, Tessa is SUPER!POWERFUL. No one knows what exactly her shapeshifting powers are or what they mean, except that the Magister wants her as his bride and that her abilities have never been seen before. Of course, the Magister isn’t the only one after Tessa—so too is best friend Shadowhunter Will (the dark, sexy, tempestuous bad boy) and Jem (the light, tempered and sensitive good guy). Neither of these boys have any real reason to fall in love with Tessa, but of course they both do, sparking a huge debate in Ms. Clare’s formidable fanbase to the cries of “Team Will!” or “Team Jem!” To that end, I will say that both Will and Jem are decently developed characters with a lot of potential; Will, with his clearly troubled and guarded past, and Jem with his own terminal illness. Both Will and Jem are passably crushworthy, if a reader is so inclined to form literary crushes and fly the Team Will/Jem flag.

The point, however, is that Tessa, the supposed heroine of this story, is not worth rooting for in the slightest. With all the personality of industrial paint, Tessa is as “blank page heroine” as you can get. As YA author Sarah Rees Brennan describes the phenomenon:

[The Blank Page Heroine] is in a lot of books—I don’t mean to pick on romance, because sadly I have seen her in every genre, including my own—and sometimes she seems to be there as a match for the hero who won’t bother him with things like “hobbies” and “opinions.” Sometimes she is carefully featureless (still missing those pesky hobbies and opinions) so that, apparently, the reader can identify with her and slot their own personalities onto a blank page. As I don’t identify with blank pages, I find the whole business disturbing.

What is it about this particular type of heroine, that she keeps popping her nondescript head into genre fiction novels? (O, Stephanie Meyer, what hast thou wrought!?) I prefer characters that are flawed, challenging, and engaging—not soppy, uninspired, oh-so-desirable-for-no-discernable-reason stand-ins.

Doubtless, there are many fans of this book, the series, and the trope that will disagree with me. But in this reader’s opinion? Clockwork Angel, though not without its entertainment value and high points, left me cold and unimpressed.
added by susieimage | editTor.com, Thea James (Sep 9, 2010)

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Clare, Cassandraprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ehle, JenniferNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The "Thames River Song," by Elka Cloke, is used in its entirety as the book's epigraph.
For Jim and Kate
First words
The demon exploded in a shower of ichor and guts.
"But the books are behind bars!" she said. "Like a literary prison!"

Will grinned. "Some of these books bite," he said. "It's wise to be careful."

"One must always be careful of books," said Tessa, "and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us."

(quote taken from ARC, page 87, and may be different from final edition)
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From jacket: Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

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.
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When sixteen-year-old orphan Tessa Fell's older brother suddenly vanishes, her search for him leads her into Victorian-era London's dangerous supernatural underworld, and when she discovers that she herself is a Downworlder, she must learn to trust the demon-killing Shadowhunters if she ever wants to learn to control her powers and find her brother.… (more)

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