Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

clockwork angel

“’One must always be careful of books,’ said Tessa, ‘and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.’”

Another YA Steampunk. This time, though, the dark and gritty aren’t crammed into every nook. To a guy, sometimes that not good. Could be wrong, though. Clockwork Angel was better than I expected, no angsty love triangle than I assumed in the beginning. Least not yet.

Nor were there this many fragments.

Tessa Gray comes to Victorian England to find a home with her brother after the death of her aunt. Unfortunately, people get in the way. Warlocks and vampires do. But don’t worry. The dashing hero comes to save the day, breaking her out with a pretty cool fight scene. When they return to the Institute (the secret base) the mystery begins to pick up. And the question persists: How will Tessa escape her marriage from the Magister?

This was a tale of many twists, cliché Steampunk devices, but a diverse set of characters. Oh, and overused description.

While the plot is nothing new, an arranged marriage/murder mystery with paranormal ties, the characters are what keep the story going. Each person feels “real” as the case may be, rounded and interesting.

One fear I have with women as teenage protagonists is that they’re usually either annoyingly naïve, annoyingly stupid with a love interest, or downright annoying. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching some Revolution, but Tessa isn’t that bad. Sure, she’s a little naïve in the beginning, but that soon worms its way out of her system by the end. She was enjoyable to go along with.

Will, on the other hand, is pretty awesome. Imagine the stereotypical charming, sarcastic dude in most cheesy romances. Twist him into a tortured Byronic Hero, and you have a detail of what this character might be. So yeah, I’m on Team Will in this whole love triangle fiasco which I believe will take place in the second book. Maybe it’s because I connected with the dude on many levels, most notably his actions, me being very, very sarcastic and all. Just sayin’.

One thing I found that was interesting in a YA novel that’s won a lot of awards (cause that’s a definer) is the amount of shocking twists. I’m not one to be surprised by most twists, let alone ones in a YA story. But these truthfully threw me off balance. They were fun and intelligent. One didn’t make sense, or at least wasn’t explained in great detail, but I think Clare will expound on that in the second book.

Unfortunately, I feel this book is missing something. It has a strong cast, some strong twists, and decent writing. But with the easy prose there comes a certain void as you mingle across the page.

There’s nothing wholly original about this tale.

When I first came upon the word “Nephilim,” I nearly stabbed my eyes out. I don’t know what the fixation with angels mating with women is, but please writers, stop this overused tragedy. It’s boring and not as romantic as you think.

Add in the werewolves, vampires, and occasional warlock, and you have the world-building, save some literary quotes from famous writings of the day and clockwork automatons. Little substance dots the piece except for her great focus on characters.

Only problem is that I’ve heard she basically copies the personalities of her first series’ MCs to this story. Oh well. I’ll deal with it.

If you’re looking for a surprising YA Steampunk novel, I would quicker recommend Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. The atmosphere in this story is somewhat dark; not macabre like I usually enjoy, but more spooky like in a paranormal romance. Good thing the sappy love triangle is left out for a good Victorian story rich with a great ensemble.

Rating: 6/10

2 thoughts on “Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

  1. Good review. I was wondering whether or not to read this book…I did read Incarceron and it was amazing. The title Clockwork Angel appealed to me, but I don’t believe I’d like this “parnormal romance” type of steampunk.

    • Yeah. Incarceron is probably been the most amazing discovery of 2013 for me. Sequel is even better.

      I tried the second Clare book; didn’t get very far. Too much love-triangle sap. First one didn’t have that, thankfully.

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