Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

April 4, 2013 Reviews 4 ★★★

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra ClareClockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare
Published: 19th March 2013- by Walker Books
Format: Paperback, 568 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk
Source: Publisher
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3 Stars

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?

Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.

A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

This review major contains spoilers for The Infernal Devices series. If you haven’t read the books, I strongly discourage you from reading any further.

“Most people are lucky to have even one great love in their life. You have found two.”

And so ends one of my favourite series ever – while Clockwork Princess concludes the saga well, I found I didn’t like it as much as Clockwork Angel or Clockwork Prince. I feel like this story is rushed, haphazard, and I disliked how the love triangle is handled. In fact, the romantic side of the story is tiresome and frustrated me to no end.

The first thing to be discussed is the plot – it’s a thrilling adventure where lives are at stake and all the Nephilim are fighting for the order’s survival. It’s well paced and engaging, and when I got into the story, it was difficult to put down. As usual, I think the basic idea is great, but I’m a little confused – Tessa is basically everything Valentine, in TMI, strove for, and yet Mortmain never alighted on the idea to use her to break into Idris? It doesn’t really feel like Cassandra Clare has broken new ground with this series, which is disappointing.

Also disappointing is the execution of the book – there are too many points of view, too many romances, and the book seriously needs another edit. I wish the author had stuck with the original view points from Clockwork Angel – without giving all the new characters voices too. There’s just too much going on – we’re not only privy to what Jem, Tessa, Will, Charlotte and Henry feel, with snippets of Magnus and Sophie, but also Gideon, Gabriel, and Cecily, and maybe a few others. It makes no sense, and only serves to confuse and bog down the narrative. I wouldn’t have minded the romances cropping up left, right, and centre, but with all the viewpoints, it was tiresome witnessing everyone’s burgeoning feelings and their bumbling efforts to convey them.

Clockwork Princess – or at least my edition – needs to be heavily edited: Tessa becomes tired and sweaty from swinging a sword once, Jem tells us twice in so many paragraphs how thrilled he is that Will and Cecily stay with him while he recovers from an incident, and both times he’s a little incredulous so I don’t think it’s intentional. And it’s not only Magnus that gets the Lightwood brothers confused – the author does as well, and at one point Gideon randomly and briefly pops up on the other side of London with Cecily and Gabriel. There is also the matter of a certain proposal, which sounds uncannily like the one that Mr. Darcy gave to a mystified Miss Bennett.

“They were all honourable. If they had not been, she thought, looking down at her hands, perhaps everything would not be so awful”

But my final complaint about this book is, in my eyes, the most important – I hated the way the love triangle was handled. There’s so much emotion, and everyone dwells on it way too much. And none of it is negative. Tessa spends the first half of the book comparing Will and Jem, thinking of Will inappropriately and then feeling guilty about it, repeating a litany of “I love Jem, I love Jem“, presumably to keep herself from jumping Will (which she does the very first time she sees Will after Jem’s death). Will and Jem play an unsettling game of I love her, but you take her. No you take her, which I didn’t agree with at all. The most perplexing thing is how Jem never felt bitter, or else, never betrayed it. It would have only been human for him to ask why Will couldn’t leave him with this one thing for himself, when it was he, Jem, who was sick, who was dying, who could never hope to live a life as fully as Will would, especially when Tessa and Will’s feelings were clear to him. But nope, we’re treated to this unrealistic pantomime where everyone tries to do right by everyone else.

The book freshened up a lot after Jem’s ‘death’ – suddenly we could breathe again and get on with the action rather than stagnating on the love triangle. I enjoyed the second half so much more than the first, it was all enjoyable, even the epilogue (I usually hate epilogues). One of my favourite things were the small references of jewellery, birthmarks and the like that crop up in the later books – it ties the two series’ together beautifully.

Clockwork Princess made me laugh, made me cry, and exasperated me at times, but  it concludes the series very well and I am glad I stuck it out and finished it. The Infernal Devices is a must read for fans of the original The Mortal Instruments series, and gives a wonderful insight into how the Shadowhunters have changed over time.

A final thought – I’m not sure how I feel about Cassandra Clare’s plans to release a third Shadowhunter trilogy, The Dark Artifices,  and perhaps a fourth, chronicling the adventures of the descendants of the characters in The Infernal Devices. Surely there are only so many stories she can tell.

4 Responses to “Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare”

  1. Tsana

    I think Jem is exactly the kind of person who’d want the people he loves to be happy after he’s gone. Obviously he’d rather not die, but he’s had a long time to get used to the idea and I can see how “at least they’ll have each other/be happy” is a bright side for him.

    I will say, though, out of the new PoVs, I didn’t give much of a crap about Cecily. I mean, I didn’t hate her, but I agree it was unnecessary.

    • speculatef

      I think he still would have been bitter. Maybe he was, and never showed it. There was ‘pain in his eyes’ when he talked to Tessa after the transformation – he knew what had happened and just didn’t want her to admit it. It’s too selfless, unrealistic. I wanted him to “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” rather than do what he did. Personal preference I guess. It all made it seem like Tessa never felt for Jem, she was just waiting for him to die before going to Will. I know she *said* that’s not she wanted to do, but to me, her actions say otherwise.

      POV’s – like I said I wanted just the original ones – the other points of view could very well have been told in glimpses, much like how Sophie and Gideon’s initial advances were told through Tessa’s observations. There was a cacophony of voices, and it wasn’t nice. There was basically nothing told to us about the Lightwood brothers that couldn’t have been told through other characters walking into a room and witnessing hushed conversations, hastily hidden missives, and the like.

      • Tsana

        Actually, I liked the Lightwood brothers story line and I really liked the bits of story that were told through letters. It made me want to punch the Consul more.

        I’m not sure raging against the dying of the light is necessarily healthy when you know you’re terminal and that there isn’t a solution. Coming to terms with it seems like something he did a while ago. Thinking about the dying thing makes me think a bit about Fault in Our Stars — have you read it? The MC is terminal and goes through strongly not wanting her parents’ lives to be ruined by her inevitable death.

  2. Claire

    I thought CC gave a wonderful ending to suits everyone fictional boyfriends tastes. We all knew it was going to be Tessa and Will, but since I’m a Jem fan, I was seriously excited at how she left it. Fantastic review 🙂

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