Clockwork Angel – ISBN: 1416975861
Clockwork Prince – ISBN: 9781406365276
Clockwork Princess – ISBN: 1406321346
This series forms a prequel trilogy to Cassandra Clare’s YA series The Mortal Instruments (now inspiring the TV series Shadowhunters). It is set in London in 1878 and follows Tessa Gray a seemingly normal American girl who comes to London and who’s life – surprise, surprise – gets turned upside down when she gets mixed up with creatures she never knew existed.
If, like me, you read The Mortal Instruments first, this series is a familiar route of a girl who grows from being ignorant of the this ‘Shadow world’ to becoming a heroine in her own right. If you were to come to Clare’s imagined world for the first time through this series, I think it is almost a better introduction than City of Bones (the first in The Mortal Instruments series).
I have to say from the off that I was a fan of TMI and so I expected to enjoy this, which I am happy to report that I did. I would honestly say that I preferred this series. It is a more contained story, beginning and ending over the course of three books rather than the six (arguably three too many) of TMI. It is a fun series that didn’t take me too long to read, it flowed easily and was effortlessly engaging.
Tessa is a good main character though her flitting between moments of female empowerment and internalised misogyny occasionally gave me whiplash. The almost inevitable love triangle felt reductive not just for her but for Will and Jem, both of whom have really interesting arcs of their own. For the last two books especially I felt a bit frustrated by the way the romantic drama seemed to form the climax of the stories more than the drama of, I dunno, confrontations with villains that would see their destruction. This is also very possibly the easiest story to say, “hey I’m pretty sure polyamory is something y’all should seriously consider.”
These are not groundbreaking books in the YA genre. They are a little formulaic and predictable but somehow still fun. I didn’t find myself begrudging the fact that I had been able to see the end coming but rather I was able to enjoy the way we got there. Overall I enjoyed myself with them which is the most important thing. It takes the right amount of time to tell the story properly, and, even though I personally found it a major cop out, has a fairly satisfying ending.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a bit of sneaky fantasy YA lit.