Welcome to The YA Literary Review!

Dec 23, 2011

CLOCKWORK PRINCE by Cassandra Clare

Genre: Historical YA Fiction, Steampunk
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (December 6, 2011)

"In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart."

Author Cassandra Clare hits her stride in CLOCKWORK PRINCE, the second book of the Infernal Devices series, delivering deeper insight into characters only superficially introduced in the first book, CLOCKWORK ANGEL, with a particular focus on Will Herondale.

Although the plot is well-constructed, with clear goals, a ticking clock, betrayals, and power plays, it is the dynamics between the main characters and the mystery of the origins and identity of the main protagonist, Tessa, that take center stage here. If you enjoy love triangles, with shifting point-of-view scenes allowing deeper understanding of the motivations behind the main players, this is the book for you. The ensuing drama leads to an ending that is sure to have readers declaring themselves either for Team Will or Team Jem. As this isn't the last book in the series, we can safely assume that the triangle has more ground to cover, too, and although the ending was clearly telegraphed, it was an experience comparable to watching a train wreck happen in slow motion, mingling horror at the pain caused to the unsuccessful suitor with happiness at the pathos of the other's success. The bromance between the two suitors, who are bound to protect each other, further intensifies the conflict.

Any love triangle runs the danger of making the girl, caught in a dither about which boy to choose, rather unlikeable and I don't think Tessa entirely escapes that problem here, but the two boys' backstories go a long way to supply adequate reason why a kind girl might be drawn to make the dying Jem happy despite finding the mercurial Will compelling. Which one does she ultimately choose? I couldn't possibly say. You'll have to read it yourself to find out!

Clare has researched her material and included literary quotes as epigraphs to each chapter, yet readers can rest assured this is not a heavy read.

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