Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011
Ms. Clare, you have done it again.
In her second installment of The Infernal Devices, readers pick up two weeks after where the action left off in Clockwork Angel. The London Institute of Shadowhunters is determined to find out more about the Magister, why he’s after Tessa, and who else besides Tessa’s brother Nate has joined his ranks. Over the course of the next two weeks, more questions and secrets come to light and loyalties are challenged.
This novel was much more devoted to character and relationship development rather than to advancing the plot significantly. It can seem daunting that this nearly 500-page book takes place over such short span of time, but it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who has read any of Clare’s previous novels – this is very much her style. Her books are big, full of detail, incredibly intricate, exploring the story from a variety of characters’ points of view, and they each take place in a matter of days or weeks. Perhaps it feels different to us because we have to wait so much longer than that to find out what happens next.
Tessa, Jem, and Will continue to be the heart of this novel. Some of the adrenaline has come off since Tessa first joined this family, but that doesn’t make seeing the three of them try to navigate each other any less interesting. They learn not just about each other, but about themselves, and as a reader it is such a treat, and, honestly, at times a bit like torture. But it is a love triangle, so that’s to be expected. What readers won’t expect is how thoroughly their hearts will be pulled, torn, crushed, filled, etc. It’s a lot of emotion going on here.
Tessa comes to learn just how strong she really is, physically and emotionally, but that doesn’t make her immune to the situations she finds herself in, especially as she has to choose between Jem and Will, two incredible and incredibly different boys, and she’s in love with both of them. Jem allows himself to hope as he scarcely has since becoming sick in loving Tessa and he’s happy to see that the wall Will has put up seems to be coming down. If only he knew the reason Will is changing is also because of Tessa, but no one knows of the terrible burden Will has to bear and how it has affected every part of his life and everyone in it. At times, I can find love triangles to be incredibly annoying or obvious, but the parabati relationship Will and Jem have and the fact that Jem is dying changes things – all three of the people involved here love the other two more than anything in the world. Each of them have secrets (mostly from each other), and these are all secrets that could be game changers if they were shared. I could go on and on, but I’ll just sum it up in two words here for now: heart wrenching.
Secondary characters also get a chance to shine. I’m particularly fond of Sophie, the Institute’s maid, and her growing role in the story. The Lightwood’s are scandalous and dramatic, and Magnus Bane, no matter the situation, always manages to bring a smile to my face (perhaps because thanks to The Mortal Instruments we already know that he’s a truly decent man and remains one even over the course of hundreds of years).
I read this book a bit more patiently, and I think that was a good thing. I really liked this story, but I’m also really okay with having to wait for what comes next. I’m anxious to see what the final installment, Clockwork Princess, will bring and how this story will be wrapped up later this year. I have no doubt Clare will somehow break my heart (it seems unavoidable), but sometimes the best stories must do that to us.