Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Clockwork Prince

Author: Cassandra Clare

Published: December 2011

Number of Pages: 528

Rating: 4/5


In magical Victorian London, orphan Tessa found safety with the Shadowhunters, until traitors betray her to the Magister. He wants to marry her, but so do self-destructive Will and fiercely devoted Jem. Mage Magnus Bane returns to help them. Secrets to her parentage lie with the mist-shrouded Yorkshire Institute’s aged manager Alyosius Starkweather. [From Goodreads]


“It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them.”


So… I was a little late to the game with this one. Sort of. I got the ARC ages ago, but life got in the way (don’t you hate it when that happens?), and I found, over a year later, that the only way this was going to be read was if I listened to it to and from school. I decided to do just that, and I am so glad that I did. Clockwork Prince sealed the deal: I enjoy The Infernal Devices trilogy even more than The Mortal Instruments. Why?

Clockwork Prince is not the most action-packed book ever. Instead, Clare spends time developing characters and atmosphere in order to create a book that I could feel. This was particularly exciting because this isn’t just any old book – it’s Victorian-Era steampunk. Who doesn’t want to become engrossed in that world, enveloped by the oxymoronic eeriness and charm of late 19th-Century London? Furthermore, snuggled within Clare’s Victorian London is the Shadowhunters’ London Institute, which houses some very endearing people.

You’re introduced to the cast of the trilogy in the first book, Clockwork Angel (review), naturally, but I didn’t feel like I got to know them until I was entrenched in Clockwork Prince. These characters became so dear to me that the inevitable Jem-Tessa-Will love triangle didn’t irritate me as much as most love triangles do. Instead, I sympathized. These three people love each other so much that the love keeps them kind. It keeps them devoted. There was no back-stabbing or deceit. Their love and its strength allowed me to respect them no matter what mistakes they made. I appreciate and admire them for never compromising their beliefs or dreams while keeping each others’ feelings in mind. This is how I wish all people behaved. A love triangle usually turns people against one another, but this one simply emphasized the integrity and nobility of these characters. (How cool is that? I’m still jazzed about it.)

Beyond those three, the secondary characters step up and become integral to the story. Quirky Henry, patient Charlotte, poor mislead Jessamine, wise Sophie, quiet Gideon, naive Gabriel – these are people the reader gets to meet and, even more importantly, gets to know in Clockwork Prince. Their varying levels of charm make them a very entertaining and (in most cases) lovable cast of characters.

As I said before, this is not the most action-packed of Cassandra Clare’s books, but it has its own merit. It tells a story of people, not things or events. It does a fantastic job of escalating the anticipation of the moment when the Shadowhunters will finally confront Mortmain, the “Hand of Death,” their enemy. The man with an odd fascination with Tessa. The man with the ability to make metal come to life. He’s certainly a gruesome character, and the second installment in this series only serves as further proof of this. The mysteriousness of Mortmain is only matched by the mysteriousness of Tessa herself. She continues to wonder what she is, where her strange powers have come from, and what her purpose is. And the reader aches under the pressure of curiosity, too. It’s just splendid. Clockwork Prince increases the suspense of the trilogy’s story-arc and plays the part of “the quiet before the storm.”

When I finished, I looked everywhere for an audiobook of the final book in the trilogy, Clockwork Princess. When I finally located it, I delved in. It’s the perfect conclusion to the series. Review coming soon!

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