Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instruments series and The Dark Artifacts series, has The Infernal Devices series in the same grimy world of the Shadow Hunters. The Infernal Devices kicks off with Clockwork Angel a 478 (Hardcover) paged volume that unfolds a new tale set late 1870’s London.We follow Tessa, our leading lady, as she enters London. We see how she becomes involved with the Shadow Hunters, and how her life before London, her present dangers, and her future somehow are entangled with the London Shadow Hunters.
Tessa has help from Charlotte, the woman in charge of the London Shadow Hunter Institute, and Will, Jem, and Jessamine, young Shadow Hunters in training on the verge of adulthood. Together they face a growing threat known as the Magister and find that they can’t always trust those they’ve called allies as they face an enemy who threatens Tessa’s life and the Shadow Hunter world. Will, Jem, Jessamine, and Tessa are in the middle of the drama unfolding as they try and gain the upper hand while handling love, secrets, friends, foes, and the unknown.
With everything the characters are going through what is supposed to be the main plot line of the story is somehow placed as an afterthought and the problem that should be minor always sees the most focus. No matter what danger, situation, argument, setting, and no matter what or where the characters find themselves, their love lives always matter more.
With stories like, Clockwork Angel, one expects the tension to be broken up by comedy or love and those elements are usually most welcome, but not when the comedy or love lines always overshadows the tension or the main reason for the story to exist or continue. Cassandra missed an opportunity to enhance the story she actually meant the readers to focus on.
Do reasons matter when there’s nothing that can be done to change them?
So, you have Tessa running around without a clue trying to figure out why the Magister wants her, Will trying to be helpful with his over-the-top moodiness, Jem following wherever he’s needed, Jessamine’s nonstop whining, Henry’s (Charlotte’s husband) obliviousness, and Charlotte’s confusion. Little of the story is actually dedicated to the reasons behind why the Magister and his minions are always trying to abduct Tessa, Jem’s true role in everything (as he’s been more of an afterthought in more scenes), and Will’s actions on screen, but his complete opposite when internally monologue.
One thing that makes this series bearable is the novel and poetry quotes spit out by Tessa, Will, and a few other characters periodically throughout the book. Poetry of Byron, Tennyson, Emily Bronte, and my favorite, Keats’ La Belle Dame Sans Merci are among others that appear. Brilliant imagery and lines with depth appear among the tired writings of Cassandra. I haven’t decided if the poetry helps give her characters depth or bluntly show how little there actually is to them all.
Cleverness that comes too late is hardly cleverness at all.