Book Review: The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

September 19, 2019

When I read The Mortal Instruments around six or seven years ago (I feel old already), I liked the books, but I wasn’t totally obsessed. I haven’t touched anything by Cassandra Clare since, until two weeks ago, when I decided to finally pick up The Infernal Devices. Best. Decision. Ever.

If you’re not already aware, The Infernal Devices follow the story of sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray as she is drawn into the Downworld of Victorian London, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural creatures are waiting for her. Rescued by Shadowhunters, bound to rid the world of demons, Tessa struggles to come to terms with her own powers at the same time as she becomes fascinated by – and torn between – two best friends, Will and Jem. I’ve listed below what I found to be the standout aspects of this trilogy.

The Victorian London setting

Cassandra Clare does a masterful job of taking the fantasy aspects of her story and interweaving them with the enigmatic setting she creates. I loved the way she takes the reader on a proper tour of Victorian London – from St. Paul’s to Blackfriars Bridge to the underworld of the opium dens. You could tell how well-researched these books were, which I love, and it served to make this highly fantastical story all the more realistic.  

Literary references

These books also contain many quotes referring to famous pieces of Victorian literature, for example, Alfred Tennyson's The Palace of ArtCharles DickensA Tale of Two Cities, and the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Normally, I’d think this was a bit pretentious – and I did think this of Will initially, I’ll admit – but the way that Tessa and Will draw upon literature for strength as the story progresses was inspiring. These references aren’t throwaway – Cassandra Clare makes it clear how she’s drawn on contemporary literature in the creation of her own work, and it was beautifully done.

Love triangle extraordinaire

Unpopular opinion time – I’m actually a huge fan of the love triangles trope. I think, when done right, it is a way for writers to really wrench the heats of their readers, which takes a lot of skill! And Cassandra Clare has all the skill. The love triangle throughout this series makes up for all the badly written love triangles out there in YA literature. For the first time in my reading life, I was genuinely torn between Will and Jem, especially in Clockwork Prince, when the romance really starts to heat up. I began Clockwork Princess with a feeling of dread – I couldn’t see how Cassandra Clare was going to wrap the love story up in a way that left me feeling satisfied. But that Epilogue – if you’ve read these books, you’ll know what I mean – I never saw that coming. It’s tragic and beautiful and heart-breaking and heart-warming all in one go. I’ve never read anything like it.

Character complexity/development

Somehow, these stories are action packed and plot-driven whilst also having deeply complex character arcs at their centre, which is quite rare, especially in YA. I loved the fact that there are no black and white characters in these books. I hated Will in Clockwork Angel and was pretty much in love with him by the end of Clockwork Prince. The host of supporting characters – Charlotte, Henry, Jessamine, Magnus, etc. – were all intricately developed across the three books. I honestly felt like I was living in the Institute with them, and I’m so sad to leave.

Clockwork Angel is good; Clockwork Prince is better, and Clockwork Princess is better still. I loved these books so much, and they have become instant all-time favourites of mine. I can’t wait to read more Cassandra Clare, starting with The Dark Artifices.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.