So I just finished reading Clockwork Princess, the conclusion to the three-book series The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. These books could easily be read by someone who hasn’t read Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, or they could be savored by those of us who already have developed a taste for the deliciously entertaining world of Shadowhunters.
The brief story: in 1878 New York, a teenage girl is orphaned, and her brother invites her to join him in London. On arriving there, she is taken by women who essentially imprison her in their house and insist that she has special powers. They spend weeks training her to shape-change, and she is astonished to learn that she actually CAN turn into other people. Luckily, she is rescued by a dashing young man named Will, and Tessa is introduced to the world of Shadowhunters, people who are charged with protecting humans from the world of demons and other “Downworlders.” As it turns out, the “Dark Sisters” were only tools in the hands of the Magister, who has very scary and nefarious plans to destroy Shadowhunters. Tessa, as well as an army of mechanized creatures, are the main components of those plans.
Clare gets to have fun in this series continuing to explore the world of Shadowhunters, but she also gets to add in components of steampunk, via the clockwork-angel necklace that Tessa wears and the clockwork creatures the Magister has created. The other ingredients that work so well for her in the Mortal Instruments are all there: teens charged with safeguarding humanity and using lots of cool weapons to kill ugly and dangerous demons; intense love affairs and some good makeout scenes; secrets and curses that throw wrenches into those love affairs and make the characters dark and brooding but tender underneath; lots of action and fight scenes; mystery and intrigue; and even some great snark, cleverness and humor. When I first started this series, the pattern was so similar to the other books that I thought it was too much of a copycat. But I enjoyed the story and the characters so much that I couldn’t help but just throw myself into it anyway.
Now that I’ve finished (and having read all five of the existing books in the Mortal Instruments), I find myself much more satisfied with how The Infernal Devices played out and concluded. When I finished the fifth book in the MI, City of Lost Souls, I was pretty annoyed with Clare. She simply got off the rails with the story and let it spin out of her control, like a wild dog in desperate need of obedience school. With the ID, she used a lot of her familiar elements but still crafted a story that is nicely paced and tamed. She tied up the series very satisfyingly and restrained herself. In fact, I felt completely happy with all of it, and I was teary-eyed with how the characters’ story lines were concluded. And having enjoyed City of Bones and the next few books in the Mortal Instruments, it was fun to tie together the characters from both series and see how they are related. When you get to know and love characters, it’s always wonderful to learn more about them.
I’d highly recommend the Infernal Devices series, and if you want to read City of Bones and its sequels, you might want to limit yourself to the first three or four books. But we’ll see. I’m hoping Clare can bring it all together and do it right in what I hope will be the real conclusion to the Mortal Instruments, which apparently will come in September 2014 and be titled City of Heavenly Fire. Next question is: how will the “City of Bones” movie be? So far, I approve of the casting. I just hope that the movie captures the humor of the books and not just the action and sizzling love stories. If it misses the humor, it will be a tragedy (which I do fear is a possibility: look at Harry Potter — those books had so much cleverness and wit that seemed to be largely missing from the movie adaptations).