The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

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.

Holy angst, Batman! It’s the first thing to be said about most of Cassandra Clare’s books, that’s for sure. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all about the angst. it’s a lot of fun sometimes and I totally don’t mind getting swept up in the drama. I guess my only problem with the angst in Clockwork Prince was feeling like I’d read it all before.

Note: There may be some minor spoilers. Like so minor I’m not even sure they could be considered spoilers unless you’d never heard about these books before.

Book two picks up not long after Clockwork Angel left off. Tessa is still living in the Institute with the Shadowhunters, still drawn to Will despite his apparent lack of interest in her, and still trying to figure out the mystery surrounding the Magister and her own heritage.

Looking back I feel as though not a whole lot happened in this book, but the pacing is so good that I didn’t really notice while I was reading. It’s more character driven, with lots of interactions taking place at the Institute, broken up with the occasional investigative field trip. The love triangle that’s set up in Clockwork Angel really takes off in this book so it makes sense that a lot of time is devoted to the emotional state of the three main characters. What state is that exactly? You guessed it, angsty.

Will, of course, is the center around which all emotional turmoil swirls. He’s a complete jerk at times, and at others he shows surprising care. It makes for a completely bipolar facade behind which lies the real reason for all his bad behaviour. He’s over the top in many ways, but I still found myself liking Will. I think it was his immaturity and dramatic ways that won me over because it made him seem very much his age. I’m not saying that all seventeen year olds are like Will, but his youth is what made me believe all the highs and lows that his character goes through, sometimes at breakneck speed.

Perhaps because I found Will to be an easy character to understand, I was rather frustrated by Tessa’s complete inability to do so. It’s true that Will gave her a pretty harsh brushoff in the first book, but this time around his facade is cracking. Will shoots her so many meaningful glances that at times I just wanted to shake Tessa every time she was “confused” by his actions. Dude likes you, seems pretty obvious to me.

Jem is actually the only character who isn’t very angsty, but that’s probably only because he isn’t aware of his love triangle status. I liked Jem. He seems nice, but I find that I don’t have very much else to say about him. I’m interested to see what happens with him in the next book.

The secondary characters really stood out in this book for me. Sophie and Magnus especially. I found myself wishing I knew more about them.

That kind of brings me back to my one major problem with this book; haven’t I read about these characters before? There are some major differences from Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, this is true. But Will and Jace are SO similar in SO many ways that it kept stopping me in my tracks. There are some other themes that kept popping up as well: love triangles, ancestry confusion, emo self-sacrifice… those are the biggies. Unfortunately that last one is something that made me want to throw my book against the wall when Jace did it, and it’s only slightly better with Will.

There are definitely things I like about this series (and the Mortal Instruments series). If I didn’t care at all I wouldn’t be bothered by the flaws, but there they are and I can’t help but notice them.

The Clockword Prince on Goodreads & Amazon

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