Warning: There are some spoilers!
The Infernal Devices is a a urban fantasy series by Cassandra Clare. There are three books in the series, Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess. I loved Clare’s first series, The Mortal Instruments, and when I realized that The Infernal Devices trilogy was the prequel, I had to read it.
The series starts with young, homeless Tessa Gray, who crosses the Atlantic to live her brother in London after her aunt dies. She’s tricked and captured by the Dark Sisters. It is then that she finds out she isn’t human, but instead has the power to change into another person completely. She’s rescued by Shadowhunters, demon-fighting warriors with angel blood, who she finds refuge with in the London Institute. The only thing on her mind is finding her brother, Nate, so she agrees to help the Shadowhunters in return for their help finding her missing brother. She starts falling for the Shadowhunter who rescued her, Will, but his arrogant demeanor makes her pause, and shatters her when it is pointed out that they have no future since she isn’t a Shadowhunter like him. The other young Shadowhunter, Jem, doesn’t know of Will’s secret love for Tessa, and after Tessa’s heartbreak, she begins to fall for Jem. As she goes back and forth between the two, even accepting a marriage proposal, she can’t decide who she really loves more.
The head of the Institute, a young woman named Charlotte, faces a lot of adversity as a woman leader in 1878. After a few mistakes, she finds herself a target among even some of her own Shadowhunters, who want to see her out of power. Throughout many betrayals, including Tessa’s own brother and a fellow, but bitter Shadowhunter raised in the institute, the small group must find their powerful and clever enemy before he makes his automatons powerful enough to destroy the Shadowhunters he hates so much. They must trust old enemies and seek out help from the other creatures of the night, downworlders, and Tessa must give everything she has to save her new friends and her new world.
Clare is amazing at writing subplots. The story line and the characters themselves are so complex that there is always something engaging going on. The first one started out a bit slow, but after about a third of the way through, I was hooked and waited eagerly for every train ride to work. The series totals over a thousand pages, but they are a fast read, because they’re so hard to put down. Many of the subplots have to do with the character’s non-magical problems, and it helps ground the book a little and bring it back to reality, despite all the magical happenings.
One of the few issues I had with this series was the very end, where she connected it to her first series, The Mortal Instruments. Fast forward about 130 years, in The Mortal Instruments, there is a huge battle against demons in the sacred homeland of the Shadowhunters, Idris. Tessa is half Shadowhunter and half demon, so she is immortal and still alive when the Mortal Instruments takes place. The book mentions that she leaves because she can’t stand to see generations of her family die, but being in the magical world and friends with some of the same downworlders, it just doesn’t seem likely that she wouldn’t have known about something like that, especially since many of the people involved were her descendants. Also, since the books were written after, the fact that all of her descendants have demon blood can’t be brought up. We see in The Infernal Devices how it affects her, but I would think it would have to have some lingering effect on her children and grandchildren, especially since she’s immortal.
I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes any kind of Young Adult fiction or fantasy. If you haven’t read either series, it doesn’t really matter which you read first because the plots don’t really cross in the two series, except for a few immortal characters. However, I would suggest reading The Mortal Instruments first, even though The Infernal Devices happens before then. Since Clare wrote the Mortal Instruments first, there is more of an introduction of the magical world, which might not be as exciting if you already know all about their world.
(Feature image credit to quasigeek)