Publisher: Margaret McElderry Books (August 31, 2010)
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages (Paperback): 478
Series: Infernal Devices (Book 1)
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.
This series is the prequel to The Mortal Instruments.
I am in my own little love affair with the works of Cassandra Clare. I was first introduced to her writing when I read the Mortal Instruments and was astounded; I couldn’t put those books down, and now I lie in torment as December slowly approaches and the countdown to Clockwork Prince is on; The Infernal Devices have just whir-clicked their way to my favorites shelf!
Clare’s writing style gives me all of the aspects of the story I crave; what is going on inside the main character’s (Tessa) head, what happens with scenes that she isn’t a part of and this is all wrapped up and protected in the sanctuary of a great story. Something else that I began to pick-up and love in TMI was that with Clare, you should never expect anything; she will throw a twist at you that sends your world spinning and leaves you turning the pages!
The sheer complexity of the characters is another aspect of this book that I am in love with; Clare does a phenomenal job at creating complex yet loveable characters; they aren’t overtly whiny, some are dark and mysterious, others are frilly, while some are light-hearted and entertaining. Each character that is introduced, including support characters like Sophie, have their own intricate details that are illustrated that you get such a sense of world in Clare’s writing style instead of just another character that comes and goes. Have I mentioned how much I love her character creation? I did? Good…because I love it.
Even more so about her characters is their growth. Tessa, the female protagonist, is set seemingly so rigidly into the defined gender roles of the Victorian London setting; but through Jace, Jem, and Charolette we witness Tessa’s growth and acceptance into her destiny. We also get to witness the growth of first love; while TMI fans may have expected to fall into the same romance as we did with Clary & Jace, the triangle with Tessa, Jem, and Will is all its own and is so carefully constructed with the aspects of loyalty, compassion, desire, and admiration all the while all three of them maintain their own complex storylines/lives.
But a story can only go so far with the characters; the plot of this book only adds to its 5 star rating. This steampunk, historical setting is exceedingly detailed in Clare’s depiction of Victorian London; it allows you to escape into the vision as if you were the one looking out the curtained, carriage window. She notes that for the most part, this description of London is geographically correct, she has successfully created her own world within the existence of our own; that which we cannot see. This only serves to add an aspect that I love in books…that, maybe, this could really happen.
I’ve never forayed into steampunk and was unaware that I was doing so with this book but I loved it. If you haven’t read The Mortal Instruments fret not, this is a stand alone series; however, if you do read or have read TMI, you will have an amazing level of appreciation for the tie-ins, nods, and connections this book provides including the Pandemonium Club, Magnus Bane & Church! Be on the look-out in the remaining 2 books of the series for other pieces of history to the Shadowhunters and the families we grew to love in TMI, I am sure they will be there.