A 2-star rating for Cassandra Clare may seem a little harsh, but I should first say that I absolutely adore The Mortal Instruments series, so I read Clockwork Angel expecting something spectacular. Unfortunately, Clockwork pales in comparison to Mortal Instruments, despite the fact it’s still a readable effort.
Clockwork Angel follows the story of a rather ordinary Tessa Gray, who finds herself abducted and trapped by two evil sisters, prevented from escaping by the threat that hangs over her brother’s head: if she tries to run, the two sisters will kill him. Being the loyal sort, Tessa stays put, and obediently tries to do what the two sisters ask, which is to develop the ability to Change (shapeshift). A number of weeks later, Tessa is rescued by Shadowhunters, two of whom she develops a romantic attachment to: William Herondale (mad, sassy cad) and James Carstairs (silvery, sweet and calm). Chaos ensues.
In terms of plot, Clockwork Angel is more concerned with the political machinations of the Shadowhunter world and the mystery and action surrounding ‘the Magister’, rather than the love-triangle the blurb would suggest. I really liked this aspect of it, because the mystery was suitably intriguing and the Magister was clearly an evil genius of some kind. Yet, the good plotline was brought down by its sharp contrast with the romantic elements. There were far too many longing descriptions of Will Herondale’s eyes (which are blue, by the way; the bluest of blues, the bluest blue of all blue things in the big blue world) and Tessa, if I’m honest, seemed like she should know better than to get involved with him at all. I didn’t like Will. I thought he was funny, absolutely, but I didn’t like him in the slightest, so the focus on his really super-blue eyes was rather grating as a reader.
I liked Jem (James Carstairs). His silver hair and eyes were plausible in the way that demonic drugs can definitely change your colouring, (because why not?) and my initial hesitance over his apparent Gary Stu state was quickly overcome by his lovely, gentle and calm nature. He’s a keeper. Or, y’know, he would be a keeper if he wasn’t dying from demonic drug addiction.
Tessa herself was a bit bland, but in a nice, inoffensive way, with the potential to develop as the series goes on. She is, essentially, a polite, well-brought up young woman who finds herself thrown into a world she should have never seen. A steady, suitable protagonist for this kind of book, but quickly eclipsed by the tiny, strong Charlotte, and the muddled and adorable Henry.
To be honest, if you don’t mind clumsy metaphors and indulgent descriptions of blue eyes, Clare delivered an enjoyable, readable novel. It’s no Mortal Instruments, but it is worth a read if you’re patient and capable of ignoring lapses into bad romance writing. I can’t say I’d be convinced to read the sequel if my friend hadn’t recommended I stick with the series, but she has, so I will.