Some of you will know Cassandra by the last name Claire, from when she wrote the Secret Diaries of the Lord of the Rings. (Very rude, very funny.)
When I read her original trilogy (very very quickly), my reaction was, “If only Twilight was like this!” She writes romance with the same intensity, and the same forbidden love appeal of Twilight (for better or worse), but her characters (a) are interesting, and (b) do stuff (in this case, battling demons and so on).
Clockwork Angel is the first book in a prequel series called The Infernal Devices. I was excited about reading it, but cautiously so. Too often, prequels lose tension and resolution because they lead in to the series (so they end badly – in order not to diminish the stakes of the series that follows on – and you also know exactly who will get together). It’s too early to know for certain, but I THINK this is a completely independent story.
And it’s steampunk. Sweeeeeet, gooooood steampunk – done well, and done in London. I feel like writing a letter to Clare to thank her for doing it right – but I suspect she gets a lot of mail.
What she does with the steampunk is clever, original, and good. The way it interacts with the world of the Shadowhunters is excellent, and dispels the idea that she’s just in it for the easy money of writing steampunk and/or prequels. I also liked how she dealt with some of the problems of steampunk – the role of women in particular.
There are two flaws: First and most irritating, she goes on and on about the prettiness of one of the boys. Once is fine, and perhaps a one-sentence reminder every so often. More than that is much too much. Insert your Twilight comparison here.
Second, the interactions of the characters are extremely familiar. Both books have a heroine with unusual powers brought into the Shadowhunter’s world. Both have a good guy and a bad boy, and an annoyingly pretty girl.
I’m hoping Clare is self-aware enough to send this story in a different direction character-wise, but it’s not looking good.
Other than that it’s seriously well-written, and the world-building is better than ever.
Rating: M for violence.
Mrs Dark helped Tessa up into the carriage, then clambered in behind her. As Tessa settled herself on the bench seat, Mrs Black reached to shut the carriage door behind her sister, closing out the gray sky. When she smiled, her teeth gleamed in the dimness as if they were made out of metal. “Do settle in, Theresa. We’ve a long ride ahead of us.”
Tessa put a hand to the clockwork angel at her throat, taking comfort in its steady ticking, as the carriage lurched forward into the rain.