Hey! So I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what the infernal devices are, but on the off chance that you do (and that is absolutely fine, no shame zone here), it is the prequel series to Cassandra Clare’s first series, The Mortal Instruments. It consists of Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess. In this world, shadowhunters, half humans, half angels, are tasked with killing demons, keeping the peace with downworlders (vampires, warlocks, werewolves, keep up) and have an avatar like task to ultimately maintain the balance between good and evil in the world. Tessa Gray journeys from America to England to stay with her brother Nate after the death of her aunt and guardian, and when she gets there, is met, not by her brother, but a much more sinister presence that ultimately catapults her into this unseen world, and into a journey of discovering who and what she is and her history.
It’s hard to do a review of a whole series, especially with this one. There is a lot that I want to talk about. This series is very popular, and I can definitely see why. However, it not without flaws. Overall, I enjoyed the series, it was fun, and, at some points, actually quite heartbreaking. I think it is in many ways more enjoyable than the Mortal Instruments, because Cassandra Clare, as a writer, has got significantly and consistently better, not just series to series, but book to book, and it especially noticeable because she writes incredibly fast, publishing about a book a year. (This year alone, she published city of heavenly fire, and she is about to publish her collab book with Holly Black, the iron trial, and she has two new shadowhunter based series coming up, The Last Hours and The Dark Artifices.)
What I liked
Characters: I confess, one of the main reasons I was intrigued to read the infernal was because of the much revered Will Herondale. I was pretty excited to meet this fictional panty dropper. Barely a booktube video (people who make online vide content primarily about books) concerning Cassandra Clare’s work goes by without someone waxing lyrical about Will Herondale in all his pretty boy glory. (Or any video concerning fictional crushes, or fictional couples, etc, etc..). I think that whilst I wasn’t enamoured with him on the same level, I wasn’t impervious to his charms, particularly in the second and third book. He’s aright 😀
(although not so much the first book – meh.) But I also really liked Tessa’s character. One of my reservations about reading this trilogy was that it would be a 19th century rehash of The Mortal Instruments (I know, I know), including characters, but we have in Tessa a character who is quite introverted and to some extent, shy, but she also has a lot of strength and compassion and kindness. Not that Clary doesn’t have those qualities, but she is much more forthright in her thoughts and actions than Tessa is. I also really enjoyed Jem Carstairs, who is like symbiotic of kindness. All the other characters – Charlotte, who again, shows a lot of strength despite sexist 19th century naysayers, and her adorable husband Henry – and just all the other characters – Jessamine, Sophie, the Lightwood brothers, Magnus Bane (who I liked even more in this series than TMI) – they all had their own back stories and personalities that added to the colourful tapestry of the whole series.
Like I said before, Cassandra Clare’s writing gets noticeably better for each book that she writes, and her writing in this series is particularly atmospheric. There is a scene in Clockwork Princess starring the Lightwood brothers in the rain having a really intense conversation, that stands out in my head, that I remember playing out in my head really seamlessly – it wasn’t a particularly massively important scene, but it is the one that sticks out in my head.
There was one overarching mystery in this trilogy, and a number of smaller ones, and this made the plot and the pacing of the book quite fast and very accessible. I think, for a lot of people, Cassandra Clare books are books that you just fly through, and this was certainly the case for me. I thought the plot was interesting, and the way it played out brought a number of twists and turns that I definitely didn’t see coming, particularly in the first book.
I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but I will say, I love reading about really intense friendships, and I really enjoyed reading about the bond – and the subsequent heartbreak that comes with it – between Will and Jem. It was really subtle at first, but, as the trilogy went on, it became more and more apparent how much they cared about each other, and Tessa, and that, no matter which way the love triangle went, everyone involved was going to feel pain.
What I didn’t like so much
Not the ending with regards as to who ends up with who – I’m still conflicted about that, but with regards to the overarching mystery and figuring out who and what Tessa is – not that it was a bad ending, by any means, but I did find it a bit anticlimactic – it should be noted, however, that a lot of the mystery had been solved before the final confrontation, and that might be why I found it a bit predictable. There are enough twists and shocks in the trilogy that though, so it’s all good.
Some of the writing
This is definitely a ‘book for book lovers,’ because it references a lot of 19th century literature (and poetry, for that matter). Although this is cool, I think it was a device that was used maybe a little bit too much – it left some dialogue and some scenes a little bit overblown.
Too much romance
I’m a sap, a romantic, but I think this book maybe had too much of a good thing – and that was a bit too much coupling going on. They were all interesting, they all had their own unique dynamic, but it felt little bit too much at one point, particularly in Clockwork Princess. (SPOILER: My favourite was Sophie and Gideon because cuteeeeee). SPOILER OVER.
BUT: This was a really enjoyable set of books. My favourite is definitely Clockwork Prince, I remember being seriously, seriously stressed out at the end of that book, and I really felt for all the characters – and I haven’t felt that for a set of characters in a while. Props to the readers who had to wait two years between Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess! What a wait that must have been!