Monday, 12 December 2011

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Released: December 6th, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 528
Buy The Book: Amazon

"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. Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but 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?"

If you read my review of City Of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare you'll know that I was disappointed with what I thought of as a lazy follow-up to one of my favourite book trilogies ever. My faith in the talented Cassandra had faltered and I was awaiting this book with a mixture of excitement and dread. All I can say is THANK GOODNESS.

The book is a brilliant return to form. One of the aspects I felt most let down CoFA was the strange backwards character development that seemed to make each of the well-loved cast regress into mere fanfiction caricatures. Clockwork Prince couldn't be any more different; no character is left unchanged. We learn about Will's heartbreaking history and the reason he is the way he is. I had anticipated that once I knew the big secret of Will's, the mysterious aura surrounding him would dissipate and I would be disappointed. I couldn't have been more wrong; hearing his revelation only made me love him more as a character. He became more real to me; he wasn't just acting up because it makes for a good scene-stealer.

We also learn more about his parabatai, Jem. In almost every other novel I've read which features a love triangle, I have always been able to guess who would end up with who. The hints have always been laid, there is always an almost instinctual feeling of which way the relationship is going to end up. But in this series, I really have no idea which way it will go. Jem is a wonderful foil to Will's caustic and impulsive nature, and it was refreshing to see his emotional side in this book. Tessa seems to care for the boys in entirely different ways and I have no idea which will win out. I just have an awful feeling that it will come down to tragic circumstance rather than choice...

Tessa is wonderful as always; brave, intelligent and a brilliant heroine. It's nice to note that Clare's leading ladies are usually the key to the plot rather than hopeless damsels swept up in something which doesn't concern them. Tessa is suddenly integral to these people's lives and she handles it all admirably. One of my favourite things about her is her love of classic fiction. I think it helps many readers to relate to a character when they share a common interest, and Clare must have known that many of her readership would have read and loved the same novels as Tessa (and Will, to an extent).

As in Clare's other work, the city of London is as much a character as any of the cast. Her descriptions of the murky Victorian city are vivid and appropriately grim, with the specific reference to places making me itch to get out a map and trace the footsteps of the characters. The backing cast are as weird and wonderful as ever, with Magnus Bane especially shining. You can guarantee that any scene with Magnus will be emotional, memorable or insightful. Jessamine's betrayal somehow felt expected and shocking all at the same time, showing off Clare's innate ability to make you care for the characters that maybe aren't so agreeable.

All previous sins from CoFA have been (briefly) forgiven. This book undoubtedly feels like it's laying the groundwork for a seriously grand finale, and I for one cannot wait.


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