Mandy Reviews: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince is the second book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices, a prequel series to The Mortal Instruments. Set in an alternate, steampunked London about 130 years ago, it centres around the young American Tessa as she sets out to find the truth of who or what she really is, and the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.

Straight up, I have to say it’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Cassandra Clare, and I’ve blogged and reviewed about both series right here at Burn Bright on a number of occasions. Her books are luscious works of art, both in cover design, language and the stories they keep. And as much as I enjoyed Clockwork Prince, unfortunately, it just didn’t quite hit the mark of her other books.

Clockwork Angel, the first book of the Infernal Devices, introduced a brilliantly conceived world of old London: gritty, grey and full of dark magic invisible to Mundanes (us mere mortals), with interesting, believable and funny characters – many of which shared surnames with those from the future stories of The Mortal Instruments. Reading it was a bit like taking a backwards walk through time, connecting the dots and the links to characters we already knew well. Big, bad evil was lurking around every corner, and the awesome steampunkery of zombie-demonbots kept the reader guessing in an ‘anything goes’ kind of way. But this time around? Hmm.

Clockwork Prince is a more ‘internal’ sort of story. Charlotte, the Head of the London Institute is in danger of losing her position due to events at the end of the last book. She’s challenged by another high-ranking Shadowhunter who’d like the Institute for himself and sons. If Charlotte and the others who make the Institute their home aren’t able to discover what The Magister (cue evil genius violin music here) is up to, and hopefully capture him – well, it’s all over for our heroes. Charlotte, her husband – the eccentric Henry, and their wards: Jem, Jessamine, Will and Tessa will all be out on the streets. Or at least sent back to Idris, their home country. When the group start poking around in The Magister’s background, they come against more secrets than they bargained for, and while some are exposed, so are the true loyalties of the Institute members.

In the midst of the political goings on of the Shadowhunters is the love triangle between Tessa, Jem and Will. And this is where things got a little tedious for me and where the ‘internal’ stuff comes in. The language used is, I’m sure, spot on for the time period, but to be honest it felt stilted, without much difference between characters, even though they’re different nationalities. Tessa, who was so cool in Clockwork Angel, fell into the ‘Mary Sue’ category – that is, she was a bit too perfect, and a bit too helpless for my liking. The love triangle is predictable, though there are some complications given the unique relationship between Will and Jem. The real problem is the angst and confusion each character feels. There’s just soo much of it, and not enough of the scary stuff.

Will this put me off the next instalment in The Infernal Devices? No way. I’ll be there on release day, ready to soak up more Shadowhunting love. Cassandra Clare has an insane publishing schedule over the next few years, and, to be honest, this book feels like it was a bit of a filler; a bit rushed. I’ve enjoyed far more of her books than not, and I’d suggest you would too. So even though Clockwork Prince isn’t quite up to the standard of her other novels, it’s still worth giving a go – if only to keep up with the rest of the series.

Published by Walker Books

Paperback, 496 pages.

ISBN – 978-1-4063-3037-3

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