Angels and demons are reeking havoc in Victorian London and the Shadowhunters, an angelic race of demon killers, must protect the city from an ever increasing threat of evil that looms around every corner. When Tessa Grey arrives in London, she quickly finds herself an unwilling pawn in a wicked game the mysterious characters of this new city are playing, soon discovering the world is not so black and white.
Conflict between right and wrong, and good and evil are themes well played out in literature, yet Cassandra Clare blurs these lines with characters that are deeply flawed, yet real and complicated. As a sucker for romance, I must say that no one writes a love triangle quite like Clare. The messy knot of feeling between Tessa, Will, and Jem is woven with tragedy, secrets, loyalty, and of course, love which makes for a compelling read that you cannot put down. If you find yourself with a soft spot for those angsty, sarcastic, troubled (and handsome) boys, you’ll have your match with Will Herondale. If kind, thoughtful, and plagued is more your thing ,then be content with Jem Carstairs. If you can’t pick, flip a coin. You win either way (a tricky love triangle, like I said).
As book one of the trilogy, Clockwork Angel introduces a trope of otherworldly characters, some of whom are loveable while others seem downright terrible. The beauty of Clare’s writing, though, is that she creates wonderful character arcs that have you hating a character on one page, only to flip the page and have a completely different opinion. Understandably, young adult fiction can become tedious and over saturated with underdeveloped world building and unlikable characters, yet Clockwork Angel does anything but. Do not shy away from reading this — it’s unlike anything else out there. There are books that drag the reader through the plot, slowly and reluctantly, and then there are the books that push the plot forward, that the reader devours and runs along with, hoping it will never end. Clockwork Angel is a sprint — in a good way! Three books in the series was hardly enough to tire me out (lucky for me, Clare expands the Shadowhunter world in nearly twenty novels, plus countless short stories and novellas).
While labeled young-adult, the themes and relationships are relatable and enjoyable even for those who have surpassed their youth. Based loosely off A Tale of Two Cities, the ideas of love and sacrifice are understandable by all. Yes, the characters are for the most part in their later teen years, but anyone, of any age, can relate to the emotions they feel. The crazy thing about emotions is that, combined with good writing, they are timeless.
I enthusiastically give Clockwork Angel five stars. It strikes that perfect balance between action and emotion making for a lovely exploration into the tumultuous world of the London Shadowhunters.