Clockwork Angel – Summary & Review

Clockwork AngelTitle: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Page Count: 481

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult


Clockwork Angel takes the reader back to a late 1800s London, leading us on the tumultuous journey of a young girl, Tessa, who’s traveling to London from New York to stay with her brother, Nathaniel.

Immediately after arriving in London, Tessa is tricked into believing her brother sent two women (WITCHES!), The Dark Sisters, to pick her up from the port and bring Tessa to him. Not long after, Tessa is being held captive by The Dark Sisters who are “training” her to control a gift she didn’t even know she possessed. Some time later we find out Tessa is being groomed for marriage with a mysterious man everyone calls The Magister.

While still being held against her will and abused by The Dark Sisters, Tessa masters her special ability of Changing herself into other people. Enter the Shadowhunters Will and Jem. They’ve both been tracking a young woman who was violently stabbed in an alleyway. It just so happens that The Dark Sisters force Tessa to Change into this poor woman and the Shadowhunters are able to find the Changed Tessa, thinking she’s the dead woman, and eventually rescue her from The Dark Sisters.

Tessa is then nursed back to health in The Institute where she learns about the Shadowhunters’ world, The Dark Sisters’ true identities and who The Magister may be. Through all of this, Tessa remains in the dark about her brother’s whereabouts.

Tessa’s determination in finding her brother quickly becomes a focal point of the novel as every step she takes involves looking for Nathaniel in some way or another.

During her time in The Institute, Will, the brooding and sarcastic jerk, and Jem, the frail but fierce fighting partner of Will’s, are both consistently fighting for Tessa’s attention and affections.

Tessa is quickly pushed into using her gift to benefit the Shadowhunters and their own government, the Clave, by attempting to capture the nefarious head vampire, de Quincy. During her kerfuffle with a room of vampires, Tessa finds her brother, Nathaniel, beaten badly and in very poor health. The Shadowhunters, with Tessa in tow, bring Nathaniel back to The Institute to heal his wounds.

Some tension brews between Tessa and Will as we learn that Will is hiding a deep, dark secret that he refuses to speak about. Still, Tessa falls a little harder for Will every day, despite his harsh words and careless attitude.

My Thoughts:

(*Warning: Brutal and savage thoughts expressed ahead!*)

There is very little development of Tessa, who has the fantastic power to Change, but doesn’t use it in any way that is truly beneficial to herself or the Shadowhunters sheltering her. Instead, Tessa seemingly remains a young girl who is sometimes frightened by her own shadow. By giving Tessa an amazing ability, Tessa’s character could have been an awesome and badass warrior woman.

Maybe Tessa develops further in the other books, but I don’t care to read them.

By making Jessamine into a Shadowhunter who’s desperately trying NOT to be one, Clare misses an opportunity to have a truly strong female Shadowhunter who could teach Tessa a thing or two about confidence. Instead, Jessie is portrayed as a rich bitch with a penchant for selfishness who seeks nothing more than a husband to take her away from the awful Shadowhunter world.

The entire novel reminded me of The Mortal Instruments (TMI) series. So much so that I thought I had already read this book. This book was startlingly similar to City of Bones. Tessa, Will and Jem had the same personality features as Clary, Jace and Simon. The only thing really different was the Victorian London setting which was so poorly developed it made the novel hard to believe.

There’s also the issue of the book’s namesake. Every day Tessa wears a clockwork angel necklace given to her by her mother. There’s no backstory behind the necklace’s meaning or purpose for it in Tessa’s life. There is one instance where the necklace seems to fight away a couple member’s of the Magister’s clockwork army, but then no other mention is made of it in the book. Why name a book after an item that is hardly ever at the forefront?

Whereas TMI’s plot twists kept me interested throughout, Clockwork Angel (and Clare’s writing throughout the entire book) left a lot to be desired.

I understood the twists and turns the book was about to take before Clare even turned the wheel. If you’re going to read a series written by Cassandra Clare, choose The Mortal Instruments.

Overall Rating:

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2 out of 5 cacti.


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