Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Clockwork Angel, Cassandra Clare

"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."

There are a couple of points I need to preface this review with. Firstly, I've not read the Mortal Instruments series so this was my first experience of Cassandra Clare, and secondly, I'm not big on YA. And because I'm not a YA, I don't feel qualified to review it..I mean, it's not written for me, right? I'm in my thirties. So this is a bonus 'just-for-fun' review that I wanted to share because this book totally threw me off course.

I absolutely should not have enjoyed this. It's written for teenagers and it has a silly love triangley romance thing going on. There's nothing remotely literary to it, nor anything particularly original. As for the steam, it's there, but there's absolutely no punk. It's everything I would normally turn my nose up at...but somehow...Clare totally hooked me into her world and I absolutely could not put this bloody book down. I even read it at work, and you can't begin to imagine the mockery that invited down upon me. My reading reputation is in tatters.

There's something so simple, and so beautiful about the Victorian London Clare creates here that I loved spending time in its foggy, gaslit, horsedrawn-carriage ridden pages. It's all cobblestones and Thames. Throw in some interestingly and unexpectedly flawed characters, a handful of plot twists and an unanticipated body count, and before you know it you've devoured 400 pages like a madwoman.

I wish I could define exactly what it is that made this so enjoyable for me. The best I can come up with is that Clare must be a born storyteller who has that ever elusive "X Factor". The Clockwork Angel was simple, but beautiful, I got all wrapped up in its magic and maybe..in a way...maybe it made me *feel* like a YA again. It's entertaining, and engaging, and..damn it..magical!

I hesitate to recommend it because of all of the above, but if you ever encounter a frosty weekend and want to curl up under the covers with something soothing, you could do an awful lot worse!

There were a lot of unanswered questions left at the end, and I have a horrible feeling I'm going to have to carry on with the series. Although not at work this time!

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