Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cassandra Clare Week Day 4: Clockwork Angel

Hi everyone and welcome to Day 4! Today's book is Clockwork Angel- probably my favorite book of all time. Clockwork Angel is the first in the Infernal Devices series of books which are prequels of the Mortal Instruments books that cover a time close to when the accords where signed. The world for the ID books is even more awesome than the one we see in the MI books because they are set in Victorian England. Victorian England was a lush landscape that included the Jack the Ripper cases. What a perfect setting for a creepy mystery about Shadowhunters and Downworlders, right? I love the Victorian Era. It is second only to the Regency Era when it comes to favorite historical time periods to read about. It always amazes me that in 1820, my husband's ancestors where living in rural Ohio and living such a vastly different life from the one that a British citizen would have experienced. England was both very refined and very rough. The posh sections of London were beautiful and cultured while in the Whitechapel district prostitutes worked the streets while pick pockets and worse criminals ranged the darkened alleys. It's a far cry from the life here in Ohio at that same time. The people dressed similarly but the whole landscape was different. Maybe that is why I love the Victorian Era in England- the escapism of it. Another cool theme running through the book that goes hand in hand with the Victorian setting is Steam punk. For those of you unfamiliar with Steampunk, Steampunk is defined (on Wikipedia) as:

the subgenre of speculative fiction or science fiction that emphasizes anachronistic technology, usually from the Victorian Age. It can also describe a trend in fashion and muisc.

Basically, Steampunk takes technology out of it's proper place in time and moves it. In Steampunk fashion, the ladies wear bustled dressed like those of the Victorian time period, usually with a parasol and sometimes with the classic Steampunk goggles.
Steampunk art always features gears, keys, springs, lots of mechanical bits and pieces. Most Steampunk jewelry is made from repurposed clockwork bits. So, we can easily see the Steampunk influence on the cover and once you begin to read- you see it over and over again. While the book is not pure Steampunk, it is a beautiful melding of the world of Shadowhunters, Victorian England and Steampunkery. It's like having a sundae with hot fudge sauce, marshmallow creme AND chocolate shavings.

The cover is so beautiful. It was my favorite cover art for any book in 2010. It has that metallic sheen in person and the detail is phenomenal. The man on the cover is Will- one of the main characters. I am totally ready for the release of the Clockwork Prince cover later this year because Jem will be on it. *sigh* Now on to the book, I must apologize though. My synopsis is going to be spoilery. I can't help it. I am not so good with being ambiguous about the story line. SORRY! Scroll down if you need to.

Clockwork Angel begins with two Shadowhunters out in the streets of Whitechapel tracking and killing a demon. The boys are James Carstairs and William Herondale of the London Institute. They kill the demon that they had been tracking and find a girl, dead in the street. They wonder what the killing means and why it was done.

Then we see Tessa, Miss Theresa Gray, going to England to meet with her brother after losing her aunt to a sudden illness. She has only the things in her trunk and her brother in this world. Tessa arrives in England and from the moment she steps foot on the docks, she knows that something is not right. Her brother fails to meet her, instead sending a carriage of strange old ladies with their creepy coachman. The two creepy old bats take Tessa to their home where she is told that she has an ability that they need her to learn to use and that if she doesn't cooperate, they will kill her brother. So, Tessa learns that she can change shape. She needs to touch a person's belonging and she can slip into their body and mind.

One day, Tessa tries to escape and it caught. After her attempt she is tied to the bed, where she remains sometime later when a dark haired boy tumbles into her room and introduces himself as Will Herondale. Will helps Tessa escape with the help of other shadow hunters. Tessa is taken to the Institute where she learns that she is some kind of Downworlder and that the people who saved her are Shadowhunters. She meets James (Jem), her first night in the Institute, when she is woken by violin music that she follows to his room. Jem is originally from Shanghai and has silver eyes and hair. Will has black hair, blue eyes and a demeanor pretty familiar to Mortal Instruments fans. Over the course of the story we learn about the Pandemonium Club which involves Mundanes who dabble in magic and Downworlders who associate with them. The Pandemonium Club is led by the Magister who is a mysterious figure bent on having Tessa. Tessa, Will and Jem are joined by Jessamine Lovelace, another orphan who lives at the Institute and the couple who run the Institute; Henry and Charlotte Branwell. The mystery of the Pandemonium Club, Nate Gray and Tessa herself twists and turns all through the book. We also see an old friend from the Mortal Instruments Series, Magnus Bane is woven into the storyline and it is interesting to see him 100 years or so before he meets Alec. Oddly enough, we also see Church. He is one special cat who gets around.

Why I love this book. Let me count the ways. I like Will, who is much like Jace, but oddly- I like Will better. I really don't know what it is, but I do like Will better. That said, Jem is my favorite character in the book. I love how Jem is so complex, he is smart, musical, brave, loyal, honorable but also delicate and unsure. He and Will are like two halves of one person, which may be why they are such wicked awesome parabatai. Will is the loud, outgoing, snarky, self absorbed side (most of the time) and Jem is the gentle, caring, empathic side. Will has this dark secret that makes him who he is but we don't as yet know what that is. Jem is facing certain death but he goes on as if just living his life. He could give up fighting demons but it is so ingrained in who he is that he doesn't. Will and Jem are bonded on so many levels, they care for each other as friends who are like brothers and they are closest to one another.

Throughout the book we see Jem and Will fall for Tessa. Will is all heat, raunchy jokes and the occasional soft words. Jem is long walks, gentle words and sweet gestures. It is really kind of odd that each knows that the other likes Tessa but they both fall for her and make little effort to hide it from the other. One of my favorite moments is when Jem and Will are leaving the Institute to find and kill the Dark Sisters and Jem runs up the steps of the Institute to kiss her hand and tell her "Mizpah, it is a reference to a passage in the Bible. 'And Mizpah, for he said, the Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another." If that is not one of the romantic scenes ever, I don't know what is. It has even inspired me to think about getting a set of these made for my husband and I to wear on our right hands. (I know, he'd have to wear more than one ring on his hands, scandalous!) My love for Jem borders on ridiculous, he has to be my favorite Cassandra Clare character yet!

Tessa is a great female lead. She is strong and tries her best to do the right thing. Even when someone betrays her in the worst way, she can still love them. I also like that Tessa is a Victorian lady who is willing to stand on her own. She's quite the lady and I can't wait to see more of her and learn more about her. All in all, this book is an amazing read and one that will top my list of best loved books for years to come. I hope you give it a try. The sequel, Clockwork Prince is scheduled for release in September. I know I can hardly wait.

Clockwork Angel earns 5 Fairies for being epic.

Tomorrow will be the start of the City of Bones Giveaway. Hope to see you back here!
*** NOTE: All the Clockwork Angel Character artwork can be found on Cassandra Clare's Website and I beleive all of it was done by Val Freire except the top most one, which is done by Kiriko Moth. ***

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