At the start of the year, I promised to re-read the entirety of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles in preparation for The Chain of Gold, which comes out later this year. I decided to read them in chronological order, as opposed to publication order, so I got to revisit my favourite character of all-time: Will Herondale. Lauren from 2014 would be incredibly jealous of me right now.
Right, so, The Infernal Devices is set in Victorian, England (which, coming from a Victorianist, is honestly quite lovely). It follows Tessa Gray, who arrives in London thinking she’ll be reunited with her brother, but she is drawn into the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders instead. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, where her life becomes extraordinary…
First, lemme ask a question. How is Cassandra Clare *so* good at writing? Her world building is honestly phenomenal, which, I know, can’t always be said for her plots, but, still, she is an amazing writer regardless. Fight me. I’m sentimental, okay.
Clockwork Angel is a great first book (and I think my favourite of the trilogy). It sets up the following books nicely, introducing the setting, protagonists, antagonists and main plot-line up within the first few chapters. Cassandra Clare doesn’t mess about. Clockwork Prince is a good follow-up. It doesn’t suffer from Second Book Syndrome; it continues to develop the plot whilst adding new, exciting twists in. Clockwork Princess, of course, is spectacular, rounding the series off with a wholesome and beautiful ending. Everyone can have their cake and eat it too. I don’t have any complaints about the actual writing!
The Victorian backdrop, with that steampunk kind-of-vibe, was honestly divine. There were some historical issues with the mannerisms of the characters, but it doesn’t make much difference to the actual story, so I guess we can overlook that. I think the Victorian setting is one of the main reasons why this remains a personal favourite of mine; it combines my love for the Victorians, historical fiction and Victorian literature together. The amount of literary references in this novel fried my brain. When I first read it, as a lil 17 year old, I didn’t know any different. But, here I am, five years later, studying Victorian literature, crying over my favourite character of all-time referencing Charles Dickens or Charlotte Brontë.
I only have one major issue with this series and that’s Jem. I don’t hate Jem personally. But, my god, he really gets on my nerves. I think it’s probably to do with how much I love Will, and how much Jem gets in the way of Will’s happiness, which is a stupid thing to hate a character over but, like, sue me, I’m only human. Jem is so vanilla. Not only that, but I found myself growing irritated at Tessa for staying with him. She felt obliged to stay because he was ill, and could die at any minute, and she wanted to give him the happiness of love despite liking someone else.
That’s not healthy. Or nice. It’s just cruel.
I also hate how Jem became his illness. I know there is a conversation on whether people can be separated from their illnesses, but I believe people have an illness. That’s it. They are not their illness. All Jem had to his character was his illness. It wasn’t really fair on him. I also found it exceedingly annoying how unaware Jem and Will were of each other. Considering their parabatai and, you know, best friends, you’d reckon they would have noticed, at some point, that the other had feelings for Tessa? How were they so oblivious? You would know if your best mate was crushing on the same girl as you. I’m just sayin’…
Despite this unjust hatred of Jem, The Infernal Device is a very loveable trilogy. It’s one I’ll revisit time and time again. I could never grow bored of Will, or Tess, or even Jem, as they’re story has meant so much to me for such a long time. It’s what got me into reading YA. In it’s own way, it’s what got me here, on this blog. I owe a lot to Cassandra Clare. I couldn’t recommend this series enough – I think it’s amazing! Better than The Mortal Instruments and just as good as The Dark Artifices!
Have you read any of Cassandra Clare’s books? What do you think? More importantly, which is your favourite?
Thanks for reading, Lauren X
One thought on “Series Review: The Infernal Devices”
I really liked both Jem and Will. I think Jem had 0 idea about Will’s feelings for Tessa or else he would’ve never been in the way for Will’s happiness. Also, Will and Tessa had a lot in common, its just Clare is trying to get the love triangle to work, so she butchered some part of the series to show Jessa, but it makes no sense. Apart from that, Jem is extremely kind and patient and did so much for Will.