Clockwork Angel Book Review

Last edited by Sarah Pereira on May 23, 2022

Clockwork Angel is the first installment of The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. After the death of her aunt, Tessa Gray’s brother, Nathaniel sends he a ticket to London . On arrival, she is kidnapped and abused by two cruel sisters, who work under the name of ‘The Dark Sisters’, until her eventual saving by a group of people who are referred to as Shadowhunters. She learns she has the ability to Change, or essentially shift and realizes someone powerful, the Magister, wants to exploit her power.

Cassandra Clare is infamously known for her Shadowhunter universe. Up until now, I’d never Clockwork Angel, partly due to my dislike of The Mortal Instruments and The Darkest Artifices.

Storyline and Plot

Clockwork Angel was quite a fast read. The prologue at the start includes enough information that by the time you’ve begun reading, you aren’t confused. The writing is easy to follow and isn’t anything extraordinary. It is a big step up from her debut series. That said, the plot was just as mediocre as her other series and wasn’t anything too mind-blowing. The pacing of the book was terrible. There are chapters dedicated to info dumping and chapters where the characters seemingly do nothing. The foreshadowing in this book happened to be surprisingly awful. Most plot twists weren’t as shocking as they were made out to be.

Given the time this was written, it would be true to the time if Jem talked about (or at the very least mentioned) racism he’s encountered. I find it very hard to believe that while he’s been living in London, nobody questioned his race or ethnicity. It’s the 1870s were talking about. The whole Shadowhunter realm felt detached from the real world. I read somewhere the Chinese translations wasn’t right either.

Not to mention, the fact that every single Shadowhunter is in line with ‘new and modern’ beliefs (women fighting, not wearing dresses, and being educated) is hard to believe. The only Shadowhunter actively opposing this is Jessamine. This is hard to believe, when women were granted full suffrage in Britain in 1928. From 1878 to 1928 is fifty years. As a whole, the entire Victorian setting just shows how obvious it was that Cassandra Clare searched this up in a matter of seconds.


As a character, Tessa was more disappointing than Clary Fairchild or Emma Carstairs. She’s the plain, special snowflake, unassuming girl with a secret power. Tessa falls into an infatuation of both Jem and Will pretty quickly into the story before it develops. Her personality lacks and she seems to only quote old classics. A lot of her ‘morals’ also happen to contradict each other. Tessa believes women can read, but is subsequently confused why Charlotte uses pants. She looks down at Jessamine and Charlotte, for no apparent reason. To quote her:

“You wouldn’t think it to look at her, but she’s quite skilled with a variety of weapons, our Charlotte.”
Tessa blinked in surprise. “You don’t mean—Charlotte doesn’t fight, does she? Not the way you and Henry do.”
“Certainly she does. Why wouldn’t she?” “Because she’s a woman,” Tessa said.

I can’t comprehend why she says stuff like this. I’m fully aware it’s the 1870s, but it still doesn’t make sense that she is in line with women reading (modern beliefs during that time, often shunned upon) yet not wearing pants. Not only that, but she treats, Jessamine, another member of the Institute weirdly because she is in line with patriarchal beliefs (woman staying home, wearing dresses, etc).

As for the other characters, Will is the average YA ‘bad boy.’ I know his fate, but still am not fond of him. Jem is decent as well. He’s quite overhyped amongst the book community and I don’t mind. Personally, though, not a huge fan of Charlotte and Henry. It was brought to my attention Cassandra Clare began her writing career writing Harry Potter fanfictions, so the similarities between Charlotte and Henry and Molly and Arthur Weasley are uncanny.

Bottom line, Clockwork Angel is in short, a recycled Mortal Instruments.


About Author

Lover of all things books, cats, and art, Sarah is currently a student in high school. When she is not reading, Sarah is usually writing and can be found in libraries and bookstores. Sarah is always looking for new adventures to write about (her Hogwarts letter didn't come so she's waiting to turn 50 for her adventure to the middle earth).

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