Saturday, September 3, 2011

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Local Library
Read: Aug. 28, 2011

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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Disclaimer: I have no interest in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. I enjoy urban fantasy but of late, anything geared towards the teen bracket sets off alarm bells. Don’t misunderstand; young adult lit isn’t all bad. I am just tired of all the authors who are picking at Stephenie Meyer’s leftovers. 

I took a chance with Clockwork Angel for one reason: the cover. It fairly screamed H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. So what if it involved vampires and warlocks, I was tempted. Sadly, the steampunk aspects are minimal, beginning and ending with the concept of a clockwork army. Well executed but hardly competition for Westerfeld’s Leviathan books.

The characters are interesting enough though I feel as if I’ve met William Herondale and Theresa Gray before. There is nothing particularly compelling or distinctive in their makeup. Jem Carstairs is a different story entirely. Physically altered by his terminal condition and dependent on opium of all things, to prolong his existence. I have to hand it to Clare for originality, at least when it comes to her characters. You might have guessed where I am going with this. Two guys, one girl, overused plot device. Personally, I can’t wait till the love triangle twist is put to rest.

Clare’s writing didn’t speak to me. There were moments but I struggled to remain interested between them. Pacing problems aside, I really appreciated the literary references to titles such as The Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe and A Tale of Two Cities. It was a wonderful surprise and a welcome change from authors whose knowledge of the classics ends with Shakespeare, Austen and Bronte.

Solid if not especially memorable. Recommended to fans of Patricia Briggs.

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Whatever you are physically, male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy - all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. Whatever the color, the shape, the design of the shade that conceals it, the flame inside the lamp remains the same. You are that flame.
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