When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, 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, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. Quoted from Goodreads
Okay so this is going to be kind of hard for me to review without pulling a little bit of The Clockwork Prince in here too. I'll try, but because it's been a year since I read this, I may blur the lines a little bit.
First off, I should say I love this book. I really liked Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments, but I love this series even more. Maybe it's because I relate to Tessa more than Clary. Maybe it's because there's no "incest" or the fact that I feel this love triangle is actually a triangle, not just two boys who hate each other in love with the same girl. Regardless, I love this book, and since the third book in the series comes out next month, I figure this would give you all time to read it if you haven't yet.
What I loved most about this book? To begin with, Tessa. I really like her voice. She's thrust into a new situation and betrayed over and over again, but comes out on top. It's not that she isn't hurt, but she doesn't turn whiney and play the victim like she could have. Plus she's a reader. I obviously read books. I adore them, to be precise, so it's really easy to relate to her as a character. No, I cannot, unfortunately, turn myself into another person like she can, but she is easy to befriend and admire.
Then there's Will and Jem. Like I said before, this is just about a perfect love triangle. Yes, I have my favorite, and I will admit I will be very put out if he doesn't end up getting with Tessa, but I love the way the whole love triangle was crafted. First, neither of the two boys know the other is falling in love with Tessa. Plus, they are best friends and would never want to hurt the other person, so it's one of the first books where I actually buy the love triangle label. And it avoids horrible issues like the Author, Lancelot, Guinevere love triangle where she's married, so I really never felt any kind of sympathy for Lancelot and Guinevere's "epic love." It just comes across as extremely selfish and stupid.
Okay, sorry about that little side rant.
Finally, I enjoyed the semi-steam-punk, half Victorian world Clare created. It was a great setting, with a really fun bad guy and mystery that they're all facing. I also really like Tessa's personal quest to figure out what she is exactly and why the main villain wants her.
All in all, this is an amazing book. If you loved the Mortal Instruments, this is a must read. If you didn't, or just sort of liked it, I still say pick this one up. It avoids a lot of issues that bothered some people in the first series, and the new setting may just win you over. All in all, this is a terrific 4 stars for me, and the Clockwork Prince earned 5 in my opinion. Basically you have a month before The Clockwork Princess comes out, so check out this series. It's absolutely, amazingly worth it.