Next up: “Clockwork Angel”, “Clockwork Prince”, and “Clockwork Princess” by Cassandra Clare.
This is a prequel series, of a sort, to The Mortal Instruments (reviewed here). It does not spoil events in those books, being about different characters and set in Victorian England rather than modern day New York. There’s not much overlap. However, I recommend reading The Mortal Instruments before this series.
Tessa Gray went to England to find her brother, but found trouble instead. Abducted and kept “for the Master” by two odd and dangerous sisters, Tessa learns that she has a strange ability– to assume the face and form of other people. Something about her power makes her wanted by the mysterious Master, but before he can come to collect her, someone else breaks into the house, her prison. Will Herondale, a Shadowhunter. He rescues her from the Dark Sisters, but their Master will not give up so easily.
Tessa, thus embroiled in dark happenings in England’s shadow world, is given a place in London’s Shadowhunter institute, for her protection. But all she really wants to do is to find her brother and return to her normal life. Still, she finds herself interested in the Shadowhunters’ lives, particularly those of the dangerous and witty Will, and his parabatai the beautiful and tragic Jem. Through her connection to the two men, her friendships at the Institute, and the aid she can render the Shadowhunters, Tessa may find herself a new place in the world. If they can all survive the Master’s plans.
This series has flavors of steampunk, which is fun. It’s an aesthetic that I do like, and it fits nicely in with Clare’s established Shadowhunter ‘verse. As with the first series, The Mortal Instruments, this ‘prequel’ series is populated with interesting and well-developed characters. There are some trends that appear between the two series, in terms of types of characters, but there are also unique characters to offset this.
There are some interesting themes that come in with the setting– sexism and gender roles and conformity. This is particularly interesting with the addition of Jessamine, who doesn’t want to be a Shadowhunter and longs for a mundane life of marriage and family. Even if she is kind of horrible, there is a level of sympathy to be felt for her– she wants to chose what she is, not have her fate chosen for her.
The ol’ YA love triangle makes another appearance. Seriously, I get that it’s supposed to echo the self-defining decisions that young adults are having to make at that point in their lives (or whatever), but it is so tired. Also, the resolution of it that we see in the epilogue of “Clockwork Princess” was a little… Disappointing I guess? I mean, happily-ever-afters are all well and good and I agree with the idea that losing one love doesn’t mean we can never love again, but it seemed so contrived. I am also okay with regret and unresolved feelings, too, because that’s life, and I suppose I wish there had been some of that here.
Implications of non-consent (forced marriage).