Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.
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.
I'm never quite sure what to make of prequels. They invariably offer an interesting background to later events, and there is definitely a certain frisson to seeing the younger version of later heros/heroines, or indeed their ancestors. However, unless you have read the original series recently, or are lucky enough to have an excellent memory for book plots (like Mel!) they can often prove frustrating. There are people I know I should remember, but can't, and events happen that I know are significant to later-occurring books, but just can't remember what!
However, if I had not known that Clockwork Angel was a prequel to Cassandra Clare's highly readable Mortal Instruments series, you would be reading a review with very little negativity at all. Whilst most definitely of the YA genre, with plenty of teenage angst and belief in their own invincibility, Clockwork Angel is a rampantly engaging book. A supernatural Victorian London is always a good setting for a novel, full of soot and fog and dark street corners. Add into the mix an unknowingly supernatural heroine, two very troubled but dashing heros, some dastardly villains and an author with flair, and Clockwork Angel is easy to consume in a day.
Yes, the action sequences, whilst edged with peril and adrenaline, are not as graphic and absorbing as you are treated to by authors such as James Barclay. There are also a few storyline 'hints' that to an experienced reader are almost clangers. These don't detract from the overall readability though, and if you enjoy the YA genre, I'm sure you will enjoy Clockwork Angel too. One for fans of Becca Fitzpatrick and Jana Oliver, 7.5 out of 10