Today I’m revisiting the Shadowhunters world, but taking a step back in time with the historically set Infernal Devices trilogy. Book one in this trilogy, Clockwork Angel, is set in 1878, and combining both historical fiction and fantasy is a like a dream come true for me when it comes to books, along with continuing the Shadowhunters read through that I’m doing. I’m reading one book a month with Read To Ramble and Fi’s Bibliofiles, but I’m reading The Infernal Devices by myself to catch up with them. We’re following the order recommended by Cassandra Clare herself, which you can find here, along with other suggested orders.
Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
Because I’m coming to these books quite late, with the book first published in 2010, I have seen some spoilers along the way, whether it be fan art on Instagram or other reviews that I’ve clicked on without thinking, but I think that’s something you have to accept with a book published a decade ago, and it certainly didn’t change my enjoyment of the book. I was reading this book at the same time as reading The Red Scrolls of Magic with Ellie and Fiona, and as Tessa makes an appearance in that book too, I was meeting her in two different ways at the same time, which was quite interesting, as it was like an insight to her character development, albeit an unintentional one.
Tessa really grew on me as a character from our first encounter with her to the end of the book. She grows so much into herself, as well as into her powers, that she’s almost unrecognizable by the end, in a really positive, powerful way. The rest of the cast of characters were also highly engaging, and I did enjoy the little snippets we had from Will and Jem’s perspectives. With this being set in the 1800s, it was interesting to see how women were still fighting as Shadowhunters regardless of social expectations, and it was a real ‘girl power’ book, all things considered.
As always, the book was action packed, and also full of information, a lot of which provided us with extra detail that the first three of The Mortal Instruments hadn’t yet given us. There was a clever use of the Shadowhunter’s Codex being given to Tessa to read so that we weren’t given a repeat of the details we already know.
It was lovely to see Magnus Bane make an appearance, being his wonderful witty self. I also became very fond of Jem, finding him to be a kind and calming presence, even if he is also a trained fighter. He is powerful in his own way, and I wanted to reach through the pages and let him give me a hug; he comes across as a very good hugger. The angst that Will provides as a presence is a contradiction to his fighting companion, and there is evidently much more to his story than we are yet to learn in the later books.
Overall, I loved the story, and the new range of characters we were introduced to. It was intriguing seeing another Institute, and seeing ‘familiar but different’ characters and set ups to those we’ve known so far. I’m really looking forward to diving into book two, Clockwork Prince, and I’ll be back with a review of that soon!