Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices have been somewhat of a model to my own writing, particularly because of many parallels in the urban fantasy themes I write about. After reading the first book, City of Bones, I really didn’t want to read another book about obvious love triangles and weak/passive female protagonists, but for “research purposes” (and a guilty pleasure of mine, I decided to give Clockwork Angel a go.
Like some readers, I didnt like how City of Bones ended. After finishing Clockwork Angel, I was surprised how Clare’s writing has matured…with a nice twist and a better pace and story-telling.
Clockwork Angel is set in Victorian London where a young girl from New York tries to find her missing brother. She ends up getting abducted and thrown into a world of half-demons, warlocks and secret societies. She learns that she has the power to change into other people, and this becomes both gift and curse. Ultimately, she is rescued by these Shadowhunters, a group of peacekeepers devoted to protecting humans from demonic powers.
The novel starts slow at first, but as the story progresses with relationship complications, mysteries slowly revealed, fighting scenes, and a great introduction to the world of vampires and automations (humanoid clockwork creatures). The story quickens and at first it looks very organic and straightforward, until the plot changes everything and the story becomes a real fun to read. I can only hope to learn how to write twists and characters like these.
In an interview, Cassandra Clare talks about structure, and how the first book is about going into the first depths of hell like in Dante’s Inferno. I found that interesting as it links to Campell’s the Hero’s Journey, where the hero leaves home to venture out into the unknown world. For this reason, both the female protagonists of City of Bones and Clockwork Angel start out with a girl who knows nothing of the Shadowhunter world and ultimately learns more about her identity, the complications of relationships, and the truth of the adult world – significant themes in YA literature. What’s different in Clockwork Angel is that the protagonist becomes an active agent after the whole enterprise – she no longer becomes a passive girl whom Prince Charming just saves, but she has a special active role (not necessarily in terms of violence), but a power of her own – and I think this was brilliant on the author’s part.
So I actually look forward in reading her other books. Hopefully these would further inspire me in my own writing of giants and gatekeepers.