Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Publishing Date: March 19, 2013
Genre: young adult, fantasy, romance, action/adventure
A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.
Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.
As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.
What starts off as an ordinary mission of slaying demons in Victorian London turns into a whirlwind of plot, disaster, and inevitable death for Will, Tessa, Jem, and the rest of the London Institute. Every bit of evidence connects Tessa to Mortmain and his desire to use her for his destruction of the Shadowhunter world. No matter how much Charlotte pleas for help, her cries fall on deaf ears. In the midst of love and heartbreak, death and destruction, Tessa realizes her full potential and what she has been trained to do since capture: to Change and save, even if it means risking her life.
As an uber Clare fangirl (I remember the days when she was Cassandra Claire), I knew I would love whatever she wrote to end this trilogy. I could not side on teams — I love Team Will and I love Team Jem, and it did not matter who Tessa chose because I would still love the decision and be heartbroken for the other. But as a critical reader, I must applaud Clare on her twist to the cliché love triangle; that, in fact, this is not a love triangle but a bond between three that is so complex and yet so understandable that every reader could comprehend the characters’ actions. Clare sums it up so well in this passage:
‘Think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you.’ Yes, [Will] would have done that for Tessa — died to keep the ones she needed beside her — and so would Jem have done that for him or for Tessa, and so would Tessa, he thought, do that for both of them. It was a near incomprehensible tangle, the three of them, but there was one certainty, and that was that there was no lack of love between them.
While the Infernal Devices trilogy is more love-heavy than her Mortal Instruments series, it is no less action-packed. For every chapter of down-time, regrouping, meetings in halls, and whispers in bedrooms, there are two chapters for action, plot, anxiety, panic, and adventure. Each character had a voice in this book, from the Lightwood brothers to maid Sophie, from Will’s sister Cecily to Magnus. The jumps in plot and narrative are never jarring or confusion, as they overlap and fuse so well with one another to advance the story. We even get a chance to watch characters listen in through closed doors on other characters — and watch those other characters have that conversation on the other side of the closed doors. It was fun and fascinating and wonderful.
More and more information about the Shadowhunter world is revealed in here as well. We get a taste of the culture, rituals, and meanings behind runes, books, and laws. I feel it is explained better in this series than Mortal Instruments, but Clare has dipped her toes in this world far longer at this point after her first publication. While Mortal Instruments carries more about the Shadowhunter travels and lots of information on Downworlders, Infernal Devices captures the Victorian culture and importance of rules and rituals, which works so nicely with explaining Shadowhunter rules and rituals too.
Finally, as a lover of all things Victorian, I enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter and the numerous name-droppings of literary works the characters mention throughout the book. There are instances when Will truly did act like Sydney Carton or appear like Heathcliff, or when Tessa experienced a similar wandering through the moors like Jane Eyre. My appreciation for Charlotte’s name deepened as well (Charlotte Branwell, of Charlotte and Branwell Bronte), and all of Henry’s wacky inventions and scientific enthusiasm (at an age when science was becoming more exciting).
I could gush about this book for forever. I don’t believe I need to share a photo of a page from the epilogue, stained entirely with my tears. (Note on the epilogue: Normally epilogues are poor things to make things tie together nicely. This was not. This epilogue was perfection and I am entirely pleased with it.)