Cassandra Clare once again wisps us away to a Victorian London populated with werewolves, vampires, Shadowhunters, warlocks, and demons in Clockwork Prince, the sequel to Clockwork Angel. The pace is fleet-footed with conflict, discovery, and angst-laden romance.
The tale opens with Charlotte Branwell answering to the Clave’s investigation into the bungled Magister affair. The Clave blames Charlotte for the havoc that the Magister inflicted on the Shadowhunter and Underworld societies (the events depicted in Clockwork Angel). To avoid getting the boot from her post as the Head of the London Institute, she must locate the Magister in two weeks. With the main conflict set, Clare wends us through over four hundred pages of mini-conflicts that end with a deeper love for the character’s she’s created and a love triangle that’s predictable, but tolerable.
Will, with the help of the wittily sagacious warlock Magnus Bane, learns that demons can be pranksters. Bane calls from the another world the demon who Will believed had cursed him to a loveless life. Will’s biting japes and cruel comments toward everyone who tries to be close to him are explained by the curse, or lack of curse in Will’s case. Too late for Will though. While he was off being emo and an ass to all who cared for him, Jem, his best friend, was capturing Tessa’s affection.
Tessa and Jem weave their hearts together at first in their concern for Will and his erratic behavior and then in their concern for each other. They share late-nights together as Jem divulges the history of his illness and Will’s part in helping to keep him alive. The intimate evenings lead to intimate kissing, affection and adoration, and eventually engagement. The Jem-Tessa relationship is oblivious to the hubristic Will. Once Will understands that loving others will not result in his loved one’s death, he declares himself to Tessa who in turn declares that she is engaged to Jem.
Ahh, the love triangle. A concept so played. Honestly, how many times in your life have you been at your wit’s end to choose between the deep, thoughtful guy or the spontaneous, life of the party guy? I’m sure there are femmes fatales out there that this happens to, but can’t possibly be as often as the heroines of romance tales, starting near the time of Lady Guinevere and persisting like a politician near election time into the present day. Nevertheless, the Jem-Tessa-Will triangle is the first I’ve encountered where each character has a deep regard for the other. I’ll have to wait for Clockwork Princess to hit the shelves before seeing how the triangle collapses.
Another tidbit to learn in Clockwork Princess is Tessa’s history. Her beginnings are still an enigma. She does find out that her mother was a Shadowhunter, but she has no idea where her powers come from or why she has them.
Smaller plot items include the eccentric inventor Henry emerging from his intellectual mist to support his wife in her time of extreme stress. The couple learns that they’re expecting a baby. Clare also reveals that Jessamine, the reluctant immature Shadowhunter, married Nathaniel, Tessa’s evil brother. And, a gap-filler for the Mortal Instrument series, Magnus and Camille were once lovers.
Clare has a gift for educating the young adult audience on the severe detriment of isolation on one’s happiness and using story to demonstrate the important role of friendship, family, and community in a person’s happiness. Series worth investing in!