Firstly, I need to say that I absolutely LOVE Cassandra Clare. As a teenager she is the perfect author, although I have a feeling when I’m older I’ll be cringing at past me for my devotion to her. But right now I’d happily be locked in a cave with a never ending candle and a stack of her books.
Also this is my first ever book review so forgive me if it’s terrible.
So, the Infernal Devices trilogy is the prequel series to The Mortal Instruments (kind of). The books follow the life of Tessa Gray, a 16 year old girl from New York who moves over to London in the 1800’s. She is trapped by The Dark sisters who know she is a shape shifter, but eventually she escapes to live in the Institute with the Shadowhunters. However, Mortmain, the creator of the automatons and general bellend who wants to destroy the Shadowhunting world is trying to steal her and marry her, but ultimately use her powers to reveal the key to building his automaton army. The Clockwork Princess sees the members of the Institute put under more pressure than ever as Charlotte is in risk of losing her position, Jem is running out of yin fen, Will is joined by his sister Cecily and Tessa is hunted by Mortmain whilst internally screaming about her love triangle. I liked this book and warmed to the characters more than I did in the previous two. I found the main battle scene as climatic as it should have been and loved the side characters getting their own little stories. There were a few parts to the book that I found far fetched or morally wrong though.
The book starts with Benedict Lightwood turning into a giant worm and eating his servants which I found absolutely hilarious (I’m not sure if Clare intended this to be funny..) Chapter 2 is literally called ‘The Conqueror Worm.’ Gabriel kills him, along with the help of Gideon, who is a really solid, pleasing character by the way. Shortly after Jem reveals he’s run out of yin fen and Will has a tantrum because he doesn’t want his BFF/parabatai to die. Meanwhile Tessa’s panicking because she’s engaged to this half dead guy.
More importantly, Gideon has a collection of scones under his bed. Sophie and Gideon’s relationship, whilst not remotely the central one in this book, is by far my favourite. They’re both great characters because they have this sense of normalcy to them, and remain calm whilst the others are constantly panicked. The whole scone scene made me happy although I found Sophie’s anger over it a bit contrived just so Clare could stretch the ‘will they wont they’ bit of their relationship out for a few more chapters. I’m not really complaining though, I love the ‘will they wont they’ thing.
Cecily’s barged into the story and is tagging after Will or eyeing up Gabriel, and I love her. She’s feisty and honest, very believable as Will’s sister, and I love how she didn’t actually want to be a Shadowhunter at first but then found herself enjoying it. Maybe Clare wanted to fill in an empty female character spot as she kills off Jessamine. Her death felt appropriate, although I did feel sorry for her because she never seemed to get the chance to redeem herself.
During the Jessamine dying in a pool of blood fiasco Tessa is snatched away by a Dark Sister as though she is a particularly tasty iced bun. This is where I found myself struggling to believe the story. So I’m still recovering from the fact that the Dark Sister has been beheaded but she’s speared her head onto a metal slab and is casually chatting to Tess when Tessa’s like ‘well this is a great time to DIVE OUT OF THE CARRIAGE BY BURSTING THE DOOR OPEN BY PURE FORCE AND THEN PLUMMETING DOWN A ROCKY RAVINE’ or something. But it gets even more intense as just as Tessa is about to be blown to smithereens on the rocks her necklace TURNS INTO A FULL SIZED ANGEL and shelters her from the impact. My brain was trying to picture this as I read and I just wasn’t having it.
There’s a genuinely upsetting scene where Will says goodbye to the dying Jem for the last time before going out on Balios to find Tessa. Jem is like ‘cough, cough, I’m sick’ and Will is like ‘forever in my heart bby’ and I got a little choked up. Meanwhile Gideon and Sophie nearly kiss but some prat opens the library door.
Will hops on his horse and starts racing to Wales, where he hopes to find Tessa. He stops at an Inn when he gets a stabbing pain in his parabatai rune thingy and it starts bleeding and he knows Jem has died. He goes a bit mad and nearly lets himself get devoured by Woosley Scott’s werewolf gang. Thinking about it, this was a great scene, full of blood and so much emotion. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t like Will you have to feel sorry for him.
Tessa ends up getting recaptured and is taken to Mortmain’s Welsh Cave Labryinth of Seduction and Adultery (unofficial name). Mortmain forces her to change into his father so she can tell him this piece of invaluable information about building the automaton army. The reason I’m so vague is because I have a terrible memory and I read most of this is the car whilst trying not to vomit.
I’m not a girl of strong morals but I have an actual problem with the next part of this book. So, Will finds Tessa and tells her that Jem, her beloved fiancé, and his soulmate, has just died. Two minutes later, Will and Tessa have sex. What? This is wrong. This is like betrayal to Jem, which goes against the unconditional love they both have for him. It dirties Will and Tessa’s relationship and doesn’t make me want to believe in them, because if you’ve just found out your fiancé is dead you won’t be in the right frame of mind to make important decisions. Will going along with it and having sex with Tessa implies he doesn’t love her as much as he claims, because if he did he would tell her to wait until she’s not in shock. This turned into a ramble but I hope you can see what I’m trying to communicate.
The book reaches it’s climax (a bit like Will and Tessa did) as they escape her cave cell and meet up with the Institute gang in Mortmain’s automaton garage. What I mean by this is a room full of state of the art automatons. They battle against them and Henry gets badly injured. The best part of this scene is when we discover one of the silent brothers is Jem, who managed to undergo the transformation to save his life. Reading about Jem and Will fighting side by side for the last time felt really significant. Even though I knew Jem turned into a Silent Brother because I’ve read the Mortal Instruments, the reveal still shocked me.
There’s another angel scene here which had me struggling to believe it. Tessa actually turns into the angel, and she’s about 97 foot tall and glowing. No one melts or gets blinded though. In her angel Ithuriel form she picks up Mortmain and crushes him to death in one hand like she’s scrunching up a coke can. Then she zooms back down to her Tessa form and the fight is over. In The Mortal Instruments Clare makes a big thing about the angel being untouchable, the absolute I-don’t-even-have-a-word-for-it of the Shadowhunter world, so to see Tessa Gray physically take on the angels form was a bit like seeing a human take on the form of Jesus Christ. I guess Mortmain had to be killed somehow though.
Clare doesn’t go lightly on heartfelt scenes full of beautiful prose and there’s another round of them as Jem comes back to the Institute as Brother Zachariah for the last time, and says ave aquetal or whatever it is Shadowhunters say to each other when it’s the end. I’m glad he turned into a SB instead of dying because he is a worthy character and if he had died it would have left a bitter tone in the story. The characters all get their own scene of redemption and loose ends were neatly tied up. Will finally goes to see his parents, and Sophie ascends (yes Sophie!) Henry is in a wheelchair after the battle but it’s all ok because he’s finally made a creation that actually works. Charlotte is still pregnant which is suspicious. It potentially gets a little cheesy as everyone kisses under the snow and eats 18th century Doritos but I suppose they deserve it after everything they’ve been through.
Now would be a good point for me to reveal that I haven’t read the epilogue yet. I’ve read the first page though, and it’s great. Seeing Tessa in modern day London is like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs in the best possible way, I just wish we could have seen all the characters there too. They’re obviously dead by that point though, a bit like my respect for Tessa and Will’s relationship (I’m joking, I think.) I’ve had a cheeky flick through though and she meets Jem on Blackfriars bridge, so I can already tell it will be emotional and quotable.
I realise I sound like I despise this book, maybe even spat on it a few times. This is not remotely true though; I love it. Or maybe just lo- it because love is a strong word. I just got a little carried away with the jokes. The Mortal Instruments is my favourite series I’ve ever read so I guess I had very high expectations which weren’t fully met with this series, but I will still put the books proudly in my bookshelf. The characters are as Cassandra Clare-y as ever and the dialogue is witty and profound. There’s action and romance and humour and it’s what a book should be. I’m not too keen on books set in the past but that’s just a personal thing, and it didn’t stop me from enjoying this one.
I’d give this book a 7 3/4 out of 10. I’m going to go and read the epilogue now and maybe raise my rating to 8.
P.S. I’m still confused about Charlotte’s never ending pregnancy though, so I’m going to have to flick back though to see if I missed a page where she gives birth to a 59 year old man.