This is book 5/12 for the YA Reading Challenge.
Summary: 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.
My Review: I had a hard time with this review and where I would rate this book. There are a few pros and a few cons to this read, but I think that if you are a fan of Cassandra Clare, it won't disappoint. If you're neutral and have read the Mortal Instruments, it might go either way.
Clockwork Angel is an interesting prequel to the Mortal Instruments, with the start of an intriguing plot to drive the story of the series revolving around Tessa, the Magister, and the Nephilim, and it keeps you hooked from the beginning. I do enjoy the author's ability to create a world like this - that piques your curiosity as a reader and keeps you turning the page (sometimes staying up later than planned or ignoring things like laundry). One of the greatest strengths that Cassandra Clare possesses as a writer is her ability to create that what's-happening-must-keep-reading feeling in her books. I finished the book and wanted more. There is so much that I feel like I need to know and how am I supposed to wait until the next book? That's a great feat for a writer.
I also have to say that I didn't see a certain character's deception coming and I'm usually pretty good about figuring that out. However, it didn't occur to me until I think it was supposed to as a reader.
The problem with the book and the area that I think the author is weakest, for me anyway, is with her characters. Not that I don't like them or their relationships with each other, that part was wonderful. My issue is that it doesn't feel like the characters are any different from those she wrote before. Nothing seems to change. Having read the Mortal Instruments series, it feels like it's the same characters re-brandished with new names and new psychical looks. Will feels almost exactly like Jace in several ways - though there is something darker (which is one of those oh-my-god-need-to-know things!) - and Tessa reminds me so much of Clary. At times, it read to me like "Jace and Clary thrown back in time." Maybe that was done purposefully, but it didn't feel like it.
Also, almost every single character is full of wit and completely sardonic. I love characters like that, who can provide that honesty while making me laugh at the situation, but not every character should be like that. And not all the time.
Overall: 3 1/2 stars