Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare is the duchess of setting and love triangles. I adore the world she created in Clockwork Angel. This is the first book of her prequel series “The Infernal Devices” which takes place in Victorian London way before her NYT bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

I did not read the Mortal Instruments series yet. (I am hording them on my nightstand from the library.) I am a huge fan of anything Victorian and supernatural so The Infernal Devices trilogy called to me.

I was also very intrigued by the love triangle she builds in this series, especially after hearing her speak about it at the SCBWI Winter Conference. Check out the fabulous Kat Bender’s guest post from a few weeks ago to hear more about Cassandra Clare’s presentation.

The story revolves around an orphaned teenage girl, Tessa, who travels to London in search of her brother. She is kidnapped by witches who force her to tap into her ability to shapeshift by threatening her brother’s life.  A Shadowhunter, Will, rescues her. She soon learns that she is part of the supernatural that exists in the Downworld. He and his fellow Shadowhunters guard humanity against the Downworlders.

It’s unclear what Tessa is, but someone malevolent called the Magister has plans for her. Will brings her to the Institute where the Shadowhunters live so they can try to find out what she is, why the Magister wants her, and where her brother is. There, she meets Will’s best friend, Jem, and the triangle begins…

Cassandra Clare’s ability to write setting puts me to shame. She brings every room to life in her book. You can tell she enjoys writing it too. She also has phenomenal world building skills. Wow.

And her action scenes are very well crafted. Usually action scenes lose me. I have trouble following them. But her epic melees are a super fast read with zero confusion over who is doing what when. I was right there with Tessa in the midst of fire and fury.

The love triangle did not disappoint. In fact, it might be my favorite thing in the book. There is oodles of tension and conflict and things unsaid but felt. It was terrific.

I can see why these books are wildly popular.

To pick up a copy of Clockwork Angel from B&N click here.

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19 Responses to Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

  1. Lyra Selene says:

    If you thought the love triangle in Clockwork Angel was well written, prepare to have your heart torn out in the sequel, Clockwork Prince. Personally, I have a few issues with Cassandra Clare’s writing, but I will agree that the interpersonal relationships of her characters never fail to disappoint. I’ll be interested to hear how you find The Mortal Instruments, as well! Happy reading.

    • Thanks for stopping by Lyra! It’s in my to read pile. I’m trying to alternate other YA books between the Cassandra Clare’s. I have a personal rule about only writing positive reviews of books I name. If I want to discuss what didn’t work for me as a reader, I don’t name the book. The love triangle and setting were extremely well done and those were things I really enjoyed in this book. 🙂

  2. I’m the opposite – I’ve read the MI series, which I love but have resisted the prequels so far.

    • That’s funny Victoria. I passed over the MI series multiple times in Walmart. I’m usually not into massive world building books. But when she spoke at the SCBWI conference about the ID series, I said I should pick these up and read them. 🙂

  3. Cat Forsley says:

    GOODMORNING MISS KOURTNEY ————- MISSED YOU LAST WEEK
    HOPE ALL IS GRANDE MY SWEET XO
    SOUNDS LIKE A WONDERFUL BOOK ——- I AM GOING TO GO BROKE WITH ALL THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU SUGGEST 🙂 LOL
    RIGHT NOW – I AM READING SOME CHEEZY ROMANCE STUFF ……LOL
    I AM TOO SHY TO NAME …….
    BUT ………….. I HAD TO GET OFF THE SCIENCE BOOKS !!!!!! LOL

    WISHING YOU A WONDERFUL WEEK XO
    YOUR FRIEND XOXOXO
    C

    • Hi Catherine! I just put the manuscripts in the mail to the editors. Wow. Shaking from the adrenaline.
      I’m a firm believer in reading the library copy and only purchasing books I really enjoyed. I’m on a super tight budget.

      I like to switch up what I read. Right now I’m working through my YA manuscript with my critique partner so I’m focusing on YA. But I also have several romance books on my shelf waiting to be read. 🙂

      Hope you have a fantastic week too!

      Hugs,
      Kourtney

  4. Hmm, I’m less keen on love triangles as a central theme, but I do love a creative, paranormal world and Victorian London (is she an English writer?) so this sounds like my kind of thing. Problem is, as the Hunger Games was the last trilogy I read my next YA trip needs to be amazing to stand up. Perhaps I’ll give it a go!

    • Sally, I generally don’t like love triangles, but Ms. Clare creates a true triangle with the guys being best friends and fighting partners sorta blood brothers. So they have this tight tight bond and the girl is almost secondary to that bond. That’s what intrigued me. I haven’t read Hunger Games yet. It is on my nightstand. But I don’t think this is a good follow up to that.

      Ms. Clare grew up traveling the world but I think she’s American. 🙂

  5. crubin says:

    I, too, envy those who write setting so well. This is something I struggle with, not just the how, but also whether less or more setting description is needed in my scenes.

    • Carrie, I struggle with the same thing. My critique partner has been very helpful in telling me when more is needed and where I can scale back and where it’s ho-hum. Though I don’t think I will ever write setting like Ms. Clare, I admire her ability to do so. 🙂

  6. Jenny says:

    Great review! I loved this book (though I thought it started very slow), but I LOVED the Clockwork Prince even more. Very few books bring me to the point of tears. This was one of them.

    • Thanks! I did find the book a tad slow in sections, but I thought it was the Writer’s style and her trying to mimic the Victorian era books. 🙂 I have the Clockwork Prince to read. I wanted to alternate other books in between so I don’t get too influenced by her writing style. I need a reminder that not every book is so focused on setting. 🙂

  7. Love the title and cover. And I, too, admire masters of setting. Great review, Kourtney—thanks!

    • It was a lovely cover. Very intriguing. Setting has never been something I enjoyed to read. If it goes on more than a page, I skim. But Ms. Clare did a great job with it. 🙂 Glad you liked the review.

  8. It's the little things that make life great.berry says:

    Love the cover. Not into witches.

  9. jmmcdowell says:

    World-building and settings need that delicate balance of “enough” but “not too much.” Tough to do! Fortunately most of my sci-fi novel takes place on Earth, and even the other planet is very Earth-like 😉 So the world-building was minimal, but I still struggle with a good balance for setting. That’s yet another place where those beta readers are so helpful.

    • JM, it’s such a delicate balance. My betas and my critique partner let me know when there is an imbalance in my world building and setting. Personally, I find setting a dry read. Always have. I couldn’t bear the Grapes of Wraith. It was painful and mind numbing to read that level of setting for me. But I think it’s good to read people who write setting and love writing setting. It reminds me of how important it is and how each reader differs in their “magic number” when it comes to setting. 🙂

What do you think?