Bookin' It

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The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare


My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars and  A Lot of Romantic Swooning

Let me get it out of the way up front: This series made me “squeeeeeeeeee” like a fifteen-year old fangirl! I admit it. I’m a hopeless romantic, and a growing fan of steampunk, and the series worked for me on every level. It was crazy good, for what it is. Is it “Great Literature?” Probably not. Do I care? Definitely not. Why? Because I was pulled into the world from the very first book, Clockwork Angel, and wasn’t sent back to the merely mundane (pun intended) world until the last page of the last book, Clockwork Princess. And  frankly, I really didn’t want to return to reality at all. I wanted the story to go on and on and on, kinda like the theme song from Titanic!

I have been a reader all my life, and I have read love stories by the greatest writers of our time…and before our time, as well. WAY before. There is a rumor going around that I was a Beta Reader for the Bronte sisters and helped Elizabeth Barrett Browning get the meter just right on several of her sonnets. Of course, I deny this. I’m old, but not quite THAT old. I have, however, plenty of experience with  books of a far more literary nature. And I am here to tell you that none of that matters if I am reading something written in such a way that I connect with the characters on level like I did with this trilogy of books. The second book, Clockwork Prince, left me unable to sleep for nights after I finished it. I will never forget the tortured Will Herondale for the rest of my life. And I will also never forget the relationship he had with his parabatai (sort of like a blood brother, only more so), the dying Jem Carstairs. There is a powerful love story linking these two young men with the mysterious Tessa Gray, and my heart hurt for all three of them. But it is the love and commitment of the two boys that changes the dynamics of this tale so greatly. It is not your typical, formulaic Young Adult triangle, by any means, and the love shared by all three characters is heart-wrenching and powerful. It is all the things you want a love story to be. Setting the tale in gritty Victorian London, with elements of steampunk woven in perfectly, just makes the story even more compelling.

The Infernal Devices books are a prequel to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. I will say that I almost missed out on this second series, because I was NOT pulled into the first two books of the Mortal Instruments tales. But, shallow person that I am, I picked up Clockwork Angel because…ready?…it was PURTY! The cover was simply beautiful. It sort of mesmerized me as I stood in the aisle of Books-A-Million, and I could not resist buying the book, even if I thought it might end up as mere Shelf Candy. I needn’t have worried.

I have said many times that good Young Adult books should be written with exactly the same maturity and quality as any good fiction, only with less sex, violence and language. In other words, they should be written the way books used to be written, before sex, violence and language became an integral part of our culture in such an obvious way. This doesn’t mean I’m always offended by those elements in books. It merely means that a well-written book doesn’t have to have them in order to be worth the read, and I appreciate writers who are able to tell a compelling story without resorting to them. Cassandra Clare accomplished just that. And she wrote one astonishingly romantic love scene in particular, that took my breath away, without a trace of anything graphic. It worked to perfection. In fact, it will probably become my Gold Standard for love scenes for a long time. 

I won’t say Cassandra Clare’s writing was lyrical or poetic, but it was strong and imaginative, and her characters were real enough that I expected them to step off of the pages and into my living room at any moment. And  from time to time,  there were lines of dialog that were profoundly beautiful. Plus the final book, Clockwork Princess, brought some twists and turns I never saw coming. Maybe I was blinded by the tragedy and romance, but I don’t think so. I think it was just a very cleverly conceived story.

One warning for those really romantic souls like myself. You will cry. Probably a lot. Forego the mascara while reading the series. Will Herondale’s character is this generation’s Heathcliff. Jem’s story is gut-wrenchingly sad as well. I cried more over these books than I have since I read The English Patient. No, I’m not comparing them to that type of literature. I’m just saying that they had an enormous impact on my emotions. But because there is redemption for all, often in unexpected ways, the series manages to avoid being depressing, in spite of all the pain and sadness involved through much of it.

If you are a fan of love stories, and are intrigued by elements of steampunk, I recommend these books without reservation. Definitely my favorite reads of the last year or so!

 See, I told you I was squeeeeeing like a fangirl. 

Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices, Book 1)

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, Book 2)

Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices, Book 3)

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9 thoughts on “The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

  1. I saw your comment over on goodreads this morning, and am glad to see you enjoyed this book! I was just thinking yesterday “I wonder how Marcia is liking book 3?” I definitely agree with every glowing point you made.

    As a semi-side-note, I’m on the fence about whether Mortal Instruments is worth reading. Book one was terrible, book two okay, book three good, then book four back to okay. Now I’m taking a break, but might read book four if I get really desperate. On the whole, though, that series feels like it’s written by a whole different author than this one!


    • Hi, Anna! Great to see you here!

      That was exactly how I felt when I started Clockwork Angel…who is this author, and what relationship does she have to the one who wrote City of Bones? It didn’t read the same at all. I never felt any real connection to the characters in what I read of the Mortal Instruments series. They were cut from cardboard, compared to Will, Jem and Tessa. Or even the secondary players. I wanted to like it because the concept was interesting, but I just thought it was pretty “Meh” all the way around.

      I’m so glad Clockwork Angel was too pretty to pass by. And I’m also glad you warned me not to read Clockwork Prince until I had Clockwork Princess on hand. If I had had to wait a YEAR after Clockwork Prince, I would have been absolutely beside myself, I was THAT sad at the end of Prince.

      I’m very interested in what becomes of the descendants of those in this book (I didn’t read the family tree), but I’m not sure yet whether I want to tamper with perfection by going back to the Mortal Instruments books or not. We’ll see.

      All in all, the books may not have been perfect, but they were so compelling and the characters so well done, I stand firmly behind my 5 stars!

      Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Oops, make that book 5 I might read…. 🙂


  3. I totally agree with you about the sex, and language! I definitely think you are more of a romantic than I am. You are definitely more of an expert in romantic novels than I am! Enjoyed the review. You must be reading a book a day. You never cease to amaze me, Marcia. 🙂


    • Hi, Marsha. I definitely love a good love story. But lest that be misunderstood, I have read just about every genre there is at one time or another. Lots of historical fiction, all the classics of the early to mid-1900’s—Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Williams, etc. I’ve been reading for nearly 65 years, though I confess, the first five or six of those was limited to things a bit less cerebral—so I’ve run the gamut. A good love story will still pull me in, though, and I still cry like I did the first time I read Wuthering Heights. (It ain’t a purty sight these days, I will admit).

      And no, I’m not reading a book a day, though there have been times when I did, and I hope there will be again. I have spent so much time learning how to write one myself that I’m down to about two a week, and my To Be Read pile is enormous! Thanks for being amazed—so few people who know me are—but I haven’t really earned it of late. Now if I get my book done and actually published by fall, which is my goal, I give you permission to be amazed then, even if it stinks! I just want to have done it, and learned a ton along the way.

      Anyway, you should try these books. The romance is not the only thing going on. There are demon battles, and nephilim, and angels, and clockwork devices, and elements of Victorian steampunk. It’s a fun ride. I just happened to like the romantic story most of all, and it is central to the core of who the characters are. And I’m also very partial to stories that portray the love of brothers (or in this case, parabatai) for each other in such beautiful detail. It’s a very special type of love that we don’t recognize much in today’s culture, but the bond can be amazing. I loved how Will and Jem had each other’s backs, even when affairs of the heart came into play. There was an unselfish purity to it that was very appealing.

      Thanks for stopping by today. I have now written a response longer than my original post.


      • hahaha Isn’t that what blogging is all about? I can still be amazed because I know about so many of your other talents as well. I probably read at least two or three a week as well, but I ave sort of put the writing aside for a while until I get past holding down a very busy office. Then maybe in a year or two I’ll get back to it. What I discovered after corresponding with you about your book is just how much work it is, and I’m realizing that I don’t have plot patterns floating in my brain. At least not now. My story fell flat, and I didn’t have a clue where I wanted it to go. Yours, however, is very publishable. I wish you the best with it, and thanks for letting me get involved with it. M 🙂


        • Thank you so much, Marsha. I appreciate your kind words. I had the idea for my story line in my head for years, so I kind of had a jump start on that part. Now on my next one—and there will be a next one—I am using a few tricks I’ve learned via my Kindle Writing Class Self-Study Course (hahaha) to make sure I know where the story is going before I actually start to write. Within reason, of course. I’m a big believer in organic writing, and that sometimes means your characters up and tell you something they want to do that wasn’t in your original plan at all!

          You will know when the time is right (or write) to try again. And good luck to you when you reach that point. It is an amazingly difficult task at times, even when you are just trying to write a basic romance/mystery. I can’t even imagine how these authors who write such good and believable Urban Fantasy do it. (Jim Butcher comes to mind). How do they dream up such worlds and then actually make them believable? It’s a mystery. And a touch of magic, too.


          • Yes, once you’ve tried it, you realize how much so that is. I just heard that a great story has 6 sub-plots because that is the maximum number of plots we can hold in our brains at one time. It is interesting when a writer uses more than one plot and weaves them together. That’s why I like Dianne Gray so much. That was one of the things that made your book work as well. You had two distinct major plots going and some sub plots going on within each one as well. It is magic. 🙂


  4. Ha! Speak for yourself, Marsha! *I* can hold 20 or 30 plots in my head at one time. I know, because once they get IN there, they never seem to find the way OUT again!


    Yes, I do have two story lines in play in my book, and don’t think I haven’t learned what a big rookie mistake that was for a first book. GAH. Keeping the timelines straight alone has driven me bonkers. I doubt I will ever do it again. But as I revise each chapter, using new things I’ve learned about plot structure, I’m feeling better about it coming together someday. Sort of.

    It ain’t easy, though! 😦


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