Clockwork Angel Book Review

Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

-Amazon Book Description

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Tessa Grey is just you average American girl, maybe a little on the poor side and lonely, but still for the most part average. She boards a ship and sails to Victorian London to meet her brother and all of a sudden, she’s not so average any more. Kidnapped by a sister pair called the Dark Sisters, she is forced to unlock a hidden talent: Tessa can shape shift into anyone, dead or alive. The Dark Sisters are working for a man called the Magister who, as Tessa soon finds out, intends to marry her and use her powers for his own nefarious uses. But before their dark deeds can get carried out, enter Will Herondale, a smart, moody Shadowhunter, who busts her out of Dark Sister’s house and brings her to the Institute, where Tessa is sucked into the realm of Downworlders and Shadowhunters and a larger evil that threatens all of London.

Hehe. I’m pleased at how dramatic I made that sound. At least, I thought it was. Dramatic, that is.

Anyways, after Will rescues Tessa, the major plot of the story comes into view and you start meeting characters and the usual stuff. Except that the characters were, no joke, the exact same people in Clare’s last story. I mean the exact. Same. People. Will was Jace, the emotionally volatile heart-throb. Jem, Will’s best friend, was Simon. Jessamine, the pretty beyotch, was Isabelle. And Tessa, of course, was Clary.

So I didn’t really like the Mortal Instruments series because I thought the writing was average, the plot alright, the concept interesting, the characters mundane, the whole thing poorly executed. And while much of that remains the same here, this book caught me and I found it better than the Mortal Instruments.

But not that much better.

There was the same, fanfic quality writing. Actually, I’ve read fanfics that were better written than this. Anyways, here are my grievances.

First, her descriptions of London were boring, average, run of the mill and sometimes, I felt, inaccurate. Did horse-drawn carriage drivers really scream at each other in traffic ridden roads? When that popped up it felt…like she was putting New York today into London back then. In general, the description was a London that might have popped up after some internet research. It didn’t feel authentic, nor did it felt unique.

Second, her characters were exactly the same, as I already explained. I thought that was a really cheesy move. Like you aren’t creative enough to make up new people? Just use the same old tactics again? Come on.

The weirdest thing about her characters and setting was that Clare didn’t really keep with the times. Tessa was from America; the others were British. However, none of them spoke like they were from the 1800s.  They all sounded vaguely American and for the most part modern. And then, at one point when Tessa is with her brother, he says something she thinks, How American. What? The phrase was not in any way particularly American. Nor was anything the others were saying very British. So her calling that out, well it was just weird.

Also, Tessa kept trying to act like a Victorian Lady and was supposed to be put off by things that were forward and impolite and that kind of thing. I was reminded of the lovely Gemma Doyle who was much better written than Tessa since she seemed authentic, while Tessa seemed like a crazy American lost in time and trying to fool the world into thinking she was a proper lady to one day bow before the Queen. Which is to say, the whole prim and proper thing only seemed to come in when convienient. Or when Clare remembered.

A lot of people having been calling this story Steampunk, but just because it had some clockwork things in it doesn’t make it that genre. I mean, there was nothing else Steampunky about it. No airships, or innovation. Just the same Shadowhunter/Downworlder kind of stuff. (If you haven’t read her other books, which aren’t necessary to enjoy these, Downworlders are people like werewolves, vampires, warlocks, ect, and the Shadowhunters keep them in line and hunt rogue demons.)

But back to the characters. So the cast was nothing unique. Tessa was bookish and as far as main characters go, she doesn’t hold a stick to kick-butt Katniss, but she did have a brain and for the most part, she didn’t go completely weak in the knees when the classic love triangle reared its head and she, though neither startlingly beautiful nor exceptionally anything, suddenly attracted two handsome suitors.

The first was Jem, who was sweet I guess, and delicate for reasons you’ll find out in the book. And the second was Will, who is probably the only reason I enjoyed this book. He could be a jerk at times because he had a hard time letting people (except for Jem) in, but he was sarcastic and rude and it was very, very funny. Will: a bright light in a sea of mundane.

He and Tessa are who I’m rooting for and I can see a couple of ways they can get together, despite what is revealed in the book.

What was nice about the romance here was that there was a greater plot to support it. And while, as far as plots go, it was fairly basic at its core, there were a couple of things that still threw me. It was certainly less boring than the Mortal Instruments.  There is a cliffhanger that the end that drew me in, so as far as sequels go, I will be reading them.

By far, the strangest thing in this book was the title character, a little clockwork angel that Tess wears around her neck, had no purpose. At the very end, there was a battle going on and the little angel comes to life and I’m think, this is going to be cool. It’s going to turn into a real angel and defend her in a ray of awesome. But no. It stays tiny and useless and flies off and then returns to on the last page. Symbolic? I have no idea.

This review has been long and winding. I apologize. Short of the long is, this book was better because of Will’s character and because there are quite a few mysteries that have been put off for later revelations and I do want to know what happens then.  Because of those, I have been thinking about the book and guessing at how things will turn out.

So, more gripping? Yes. Better writing? Not really. Better characters? Will. Better romance? Will. Better plot? Kinda. Will I read more? Probably. Should you? If you liked her other books, yes. If you liked Twilight, yes. If you liked Harry Potter, you can but know that it doesn’t really compare. And finally, is this review at last over?


Ri’s Rating:

2.5 /5

0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

Leave a comment


  1. Abbie

     /  March 26, 2011

    Totally agree with you on this. Clare’s books are basically guilty pleasures for me. I enjoy them, but there are always moments where I want to smack my head against a wall. There are certain things about her books that are a little bit redeemable (like my obsession with Alec and Magnus, for one), but I agree they’re really badly done for the most part (of course, that won’t stop me from picking up a copy of City of Fallen Angels when it comes out next week.)

    I really did prefer CA to the Mortal Instruments trilogy though, even though the structure felt eerily similar to that of City of Bones. But I love Will and Jem’s friendship, and I love the time period, and I really like *both* boys a whole lot more than Jace (I was always a Simon girl, but I despise Jace to the depths of my soul). I’m excited for CP1 and 2 though, because I like books where people die (hah, that can’t be good) and Cassandra Clare has promised on her twitter that at least one of the main characters will die. And we know it’s not Tessa of course, so… I’m intrigued.

    • Ri

       /  March 26, 2011

      Such a guilty pleasure! I don’t really like her writing style though I feel like she has lots of good ideas. But the executin…ug.

      Still, I’m a sucker for Will as you might have guessed from my review. He was a bit of a jerk, but I thought his character was exciting because he was so unpredictable.

      Except for the fact that all the characters were the same as her last series! Hahaha! I love that I’m not the only person who thought that. I wonder if Clare’s noticed herself…maybe it comes into play later.

      I was thinking of rereading her other series again cause I liked this one, but I just don’t know. The writing…but, okay I probably will read City of F.A. I


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