Instead of a conventional review (this book is far too complicated for that), I want to share a list of all the things that made my heart soar.
The Emotions: In 2007, I ended a ten-year journey with a series dearer to me than any other. 6 years have passed since then - six - and not once has a book or series between then and now affected me quite as strongly as Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess. Of course, there have been plenty of 5-star reads, favourites and all-time-favourites, but nothing quite capable of drawing to surface the barrage of emotions coursing through me now. In short, Clockwork Princess suffocated me. Even now, I am asphyxiated, dizzy and swelling with feeling. It astounds me that printed words on paper can affect me in ways no spoken words will ever be able to. It astounds me that Clockwork Princess, a book that is not completely immaculate, can affect me in ways technically perfect books have not been able to. And I love that.
The Plot: Looking past the personal and raw, past the wedding and relationships and friendships, past the character deaths and heartbreak, there is a fairly sophisticated storyline brewing within Clare’s Shadowhunter world. Yes, parts are predictable – very predictable in some places – but it is a thrilling ride to the end, with imagination and brilliant world-building flowing from every chapter. Mortmain’s clockwork army – the Infernal Devices – and the threat they present to the Nephilim race makes this book (as final instalments tend to be) much darker and grittier than the previous ones. There is an apt build-up to the final climax, with plenty of time to remind ourselves of the complexity and inventiveness of this fictional realm – and to fall in love with it all over again. I want my own stele and parabatai. I want runes to dance on my skin. I want to shout ‘By the angel!’ at the top of my lungs, quite the same way I've always wanted to shout ‘Merlin’s beard!’.
The Romance & Bromance: I will keep it vague – the love triangle is, after all, the main plotline that defines this series for so many – but I will say now that it demolished me in ways I could never have anticipated, and not just in this book, but over the course of the entire series. I can’t even begin to express how wonderfully refreshing and miraculous it is to get a triangle with a genuine purpose. This is not the irritating V-formation we see so often in young adult books (and how immature and plain they seem now!), but an actual triangle, with three solid points and love following continuously, eternally, through them all. Jem and Will are everything to Tessa, the same way Jem and Tessa are to Will, and Will and Tessa to Jem. If there was any doubt from the previous books, Clockwork Princess obliterates it. Here, more than ever, there is love. Love that is powerful and unyielding, and sure to strike right at the core.
Will, Tessa & Jem: Convoluted relationships aside, the three shine in ways that are distinct and pleasing. William Herondale, despite being fictional and over a century away, will forever own my heart. His pain is my pain, and his happiness my happiness. I love that he makes me think of ducks and demon pox. I love that he is the source of the majority of my tears, as well as the majority of my smiles. I love that he loves literature, and I love that he loves Tessa. I love him, is what I mean to say. Tessa and Jem do not have quite as large a room in my thoughts as Will, but there is a special corner reserved for both, nonetheless. Funnily enough, it took three books for me to recognise that Jem Carstairs was more than just the boy who was inherently good. His loyalty and unwavering kindness was perhaps a little lost on me in the earlier instalments, but I think that finally, and at the most crucial hurdle, I understand him.
The Humour: Would it be a Cassandra Clare book without sarcasm and wit? Yes, Clockwork Princess is quite unforgiving for the most part, with torture and heart-wrenching emotion appearing somewhat never-ending, but there is a little light behind every cloud. Will and Gabriel share some delightfully interesting conversations, as do Sophie and Gideon. Scones under the bed, anybody?
Secondary Characters: Admittedly, given the emotional turmoil and subsequent hollowness that resulted from my first and only read of Clockwork Prince, even acknowledging anyone other than the main trio proved to be a challenge. Thank you, Ms Clare, for the gentle reminder that there is more to this series than who-marries-who. Charlotte, Henry, the Lightwoods, Sophie, Cecily, Magnus Bane – each and every one of them contributed perfectly to Clockwork Princess, and each and every one of them left a small but significant impression on me. There is Henry’s adorable bewilderment, Charlotte’s fierce strength, Cecily’s inquisitive mind and Magnus Bane’s imperturbable self-confidence. There is brotherly and not-so-brotherly love between Gideon and Gabriel, and definitely-not-brotherly-affection radiating from the Lightwoods to Sophie and Cecily. Each have their own stories, however brief, and believe me, I will not be forgetting any of them.
The Ending: Perfect. Just perfect.
If I had to rate this book, it would give it 5 stars, over and over and over again.
I share my thoughts on the epilogue on Goodreads (yes, there's more! I swear I just could not stop writing). It's spoilery, so only head over to read it if you have read the book yourself.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks to Walker Books, the UK publisher, I have a spare paperback copy of Clockwork Princess to give away. A quick warning - the family tree is included in this (collector's) edition (though at the back of the book). It will spoil things, so be sure to avoid looking at it until the end. This giveaway is open to everyone, everywhere. Any questions or concerns can be left in the comments or emailed to me. Good luck!
If you are leaving a comment, and have read the book, please keep it as spoiler-free as possible.