Clockwork Princess – by Cassandra Clare
And so we come to the end of another trilogy: Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices. This prequel series is set in nineteenth-century London, and chronicles one of the most challenging battles Shadowhunters faced, through the eyes of a handful of remarkable people.
I read Clockwork Princess early this week. Holy beautiful cover, Batman! Here’s what I thought:
SPOILERS SPOILERS ALL THE SPOILERS. Sort of, anyway. Proceed with caution!
Tessa Gray has finally found a place she fits. Or has she? She’s engaged, planning her wedding, and surrounded by people she cares about, and who care about her in turn. But Tessa can’t shake the nagging feeling she should be happier than she is.
Certainly the looming threat posed by Mortmain and his army of clockwork creatures is troubling. And there’s the problem of people trying to get Charlotte, the head of the Institute, removed from her post. But mostly, there’s Will. Will, who told Tessa he loved her. Will, whose heart Tessa had to break when she told him she was engaged to be married to Jem. Jem, who she loves as well. Jem, whose death is drawing ever closer. When you look at it like that, it’s a little easier to understand Tessa’s disquiet.
Tessa’s boy troubles will have to take a back seat, however, as Mortmain begins his final assault on the Shadowhunters of London, with Tessa’s unwilling aid. When Tessa is taken, what lengths will the men who love her go to to save her? More importantly, what will Tessa have to do to save herself?
I am a big fan of Cassandra Clare’s storytelling. She’s excellent at character voices, with a distinct style shown in Jem’s, Tessa’s and Will’s sections. I think her characters are reminiscent of those we met in The Mortal Instruments – Tessa echoes Clary, and Will recalls Jace. Jem is an entirely different creature for me, not reminding me of anyone but himself. That Will and Tessa are familiar is not necessarily a bad thing. The notes of similarity might even allow readers of both series to connect more quickly with them. For my part, I love Jace and Clary, and I love Tessa and Will. (Oh, and a special mention to the awesomeness of the continuing characters, namely Magnus and Church. Hiiii, you gorgeous things.)
I love seeing this story arc dovetail with what we know from The Mortal Instruments. One of my favourite things in fantasy is continuity done right, and the level of detail Clare has included to ensure continuity is admirable.
Love triangles. Am I right? Oh. I haven’t said anything about them yet. As a general rule, I’m sick to death of them. And I think there are far too many of them, and they’re unnecessary. Having said that, I really enjoy the way Cassandra Clare plays with her love triangles. The trick, if you’re going to have The Triangle is to create a legitimate dilemma: wherein the reader actually likes all the people involved. Even if they lean toward one outcome (and they’re going to, that’s most of the fun) having the choice be a tough one lends plausibility. I think Clare handled this love triangle exceptionally well, and I was actually satisfied with the outcome (mostly…) which is rare enough that I appreciated it.
I also want to give a shout out here to how well the action was handled in Clockwork Princess. Clare doesn’t shy away from the realities of war, and it’s gratifying to be in a world that demands necessary consequences. Gratifying and awful at the same time, of course!
I loved this book, and it brought the trilogy as a whole back up in my esteem. Clockwork Prince was a little slow for me, for some reason, but Clockwork Princess makes up for that and then some. I heartily recommend this series for those who’ve read Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, and also to those who haven’t delved into either of these worlds yet. It’s a great place to start!
Have you met any of these fantastic fictional characters? How do you like Cassandra Clare?