When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
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The characters are, in my opinion, what make this book. I love tiny, tough Charlotte who runs the London Institute, I love her bumbling, awkward husband Henry and his malfunctioning inventions, I even love vain Jessamine who made me giggle with such comments as "I hate witchlight. It makes my complexion look absolutely green." And then there are Will and Jem. Both have a dark, mysterious past and are equally alluring. While Will is like the little devil on your shoulder, keeping up a very enjoyable bad boy facade (awesome sense of humour included), Jem resembles the little, reasonable angel on your other shoulder (who happens to play the violin!). I very much enjoyed the banter between the two boys, and generally the family dynamic of the Institute inhabitants.
Tessa, the main character, is likeable enough, but in my opinion, not outstanding. She shines the most in the scenes with Will because next to Jem, she is the only one who knows how to handle him and occasionally, she can even shut him up. However, I did like the mystery surrounding her heritage and her past.
The writing is beautifully done and I rather enjoyed the setting of Victorian London. I have a weakness for luxurious dresses, carriages and men fighting with swords. What is more, the steampunk elements (the book is called Clockwork Angel, after all) gave it a dark and creepy edge, which I very much enjoy. It was a well-paced book, only at times a bit slow moving.
Overall, I enjoyed Clockwork Angel very much and am looking forwards to reading the sequel. I'd love to find out more about Will's past, which stays in the dark in the first book. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the YA genre and irresistible, intriguing male leads.
My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆