Although this was the second trilogy of Cassandra Clare/Shadowhunter books I read, I’m reviewing it first, mostly because The Mortal Instruments is actually a hexalogy, so I’ll review all six books once I’ve read them all (although I’m not sure how you can justify a hexalogy, since everything was resolved in the first trilogy of books. But I’m getting off topic).
The Infernal Devices is a trilogy of books by Cassandra Clare which is set in Victorian London, and is set in her alternate reality where ‘Shadowhunters’, demon hunters blessed by the angels, fight to keep the world safe.
As I’ve said, these were actually the fourth, fifth, and sixth Shadowhunter books that I’ve read, so I was pretty familiar with the lore. Plus, I went through a period of angel/nephilim interest when it was really big in YA fiction, so I’m pretty familiar with angelic lore. I did actually chuckle a little at the fact that the Shadowhunters’ powers came from the angel Raziel, who was the main villain in LA Weatherly’s Angel trilogy. But that, again, is off topic.
So, review proper!
As I’ve mentioned, The Infernal Devices is a Victorian steampunk trilogy with added demon hunting. In that way, it’s a little more interesting than the first three Mortal Instruments – you know, automatons which can’t be killed just tick a box for me. As well as that, I really enjoy books which are set in older English times, in which the characters are far more concerned with propriety than nowadays, so that was a thumbs up for me.
I was looking forward to a fast-moving, action-driven trilogy with some character drama thrown in along the way, and I wasn’t disappointed.
What did disappoint me, though (and I know this doesn’t make sense without having reviewed the Mortal Instruments, but I don’t want to split the six books in case they are all properly interconnected) was that the character archetypes just seemed so… already done.
I understand that most stories need an archetype, but the Infernal Devices set up the exact same three main characters as the Mortal Instruments – the girl who’s new to the world and apparently impossible to ignore, the boy with the tortured past who blows hot and cold, and the gentle, reliable, sweet and surprisingly powerful alternative. And then the love triangle between the three of them. It was just so… already done.
That was the main reason which turned two four-star books into two three-star books, for me. It felt a lot like I was reading another story about the characters from the first three Clare books I had read. And, you know, if I wanted to read three more books about them, I would have gone straight on to read City of Lost Souls. I understand that, as the ancestors of the characters in The Mortal Instruments, it would be expected that they would be somewhat similar, but still, it was disappointing.
For the first two books of the trilogy, while the action of the story really intrigued me, and I was totally caught up in the wonder of who and what Tessa was, how she had gotten her powers, what was going to happen to the automaton army, Tessa’s brother’s situation and all the rest of it, I was just disappointed in the love triangle to the fore of the character drama. I felt it had been done.
By the third book, though, the triangle was resolved in a way which I hadn’t expected, and I was actually really pleased with how it worked out.
On its own, this trilogy would’ve been a solid four stars the whole way through, and I would’ve happily recommended it. But, having read it immediately after I started The Mortal Instruments, it suffered much the way Trudi Canavan did, for me, in that I felt like I was reading a re-hashing of the same story for the most part. Unlike Canavan, though, Clare managed to save the end of the trilogy by coming to a totally different resolution which I thoroughly enjoyed – it even squeezed a few tears out of me – not that that’s hard. So, a solidly enjoyable trilogy, with a surprisingly good third installment which pushed the resolution far ahead of its preceding two books.
Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince