For people who haven’t read this series, what is it about, and should I read it..?
*If you’re familiar with this series or have read this book, you can skip this section*
Trying to describe any book in a trilogy is a difficult task, but this feels especially hard! So essentially this series takes place in 1800’s London, and is about a group of people called Shadowhunters who are basically assassin cops for demons and other “downworld” species (vampires, werewolves, faeries, etc.). Shadowhunters are part human/part angel, but they are literally just humans with extra speed, and the ability to use the wand-type things to carve “marks” on their skin that gives them extra strength, vision, healing, etc. All of this isn’t really important, except to say that Tessa, the heroine, is rescued from a dangerous situation by Shadowhunters, and she begins living with them in their training Institute. This is laregely to protect her because the evil guy in the series wants to marry/use her for her newly discovered powers (she’s basically a shapeshifter), blah blah…really the point of this book is that the romance and angst between Tessa and two of the Shadowhunters is off the charts. Without getting too much into it, there is a love triangle (trust me, I typically hate them too! But this is not an Edward/Jacob sort of feud over a girl’s affections type of triangle), it involves the other two main protagonists in the series, Jem and Will. They are best friends who really have only had each other in to lean on throughout their teenage lives (again I’m being vague to avoid spoilers), but they couldn’t be more opposite. Ultimately, Tessa (and the reader obviously) fall in love with them both in very different ways. It sounds silly, but the course of events in this series is not like that of a “love triangle”, so callling it that is sort of criminal. Bottom line, the character studies in this series are phenomenal. There are several other side characters that are also explored and that you inevitably fall in love with too. Every single character is unique, original, and thoroughly fleshed out in their motivations, personalities, and humor. To say I love them all is an understatement. And to tell you the truth, there is NO OTHER YA boy like Jem Carstairs. I’m not biased at all.
I truly do not even know where to begin writing about this book, except to share an anecdote about my relationship with it. As you might know if you read my blog posts for Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince, this is a reread of a series I read about eight years ago. I loved it so much, this book in the series in particular, that it is one of the only books I’ve carried around with me through various moves through college. The other two remained with my cousin, who I had loaned them to years ago. And every time I decided which books to display on my bookshelf, this one always made the cut, because I could vividly recall how much I loved the characters. Over the years, I lost the memories of the side characters, and really much of the entire plot, but I NEVER forgot Will and Tessa’s balcony kiss, Tessa walking in on Jem playing the violin, or how much the ending destroyed me while also being unfathomably poetic, beautiful, and fulfilling. I am truly so happy that I decided to do this reread, if nothing but to remind myself how emotionally meaningful books can be. I truly can’t recall the last time I felt this in love with a fictional world, and this invested in character’s lives. Amid so much certainty in the current state of the world, where we are all quarantining and often sacrificing in-person human connections, the ability to slip into a world where you feel at home and thrilled to be there is priceless.
Danger and betrayal, love and loss, secrets and enchantment are woven together in the breathtaking finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.
THE INFERNAL DEVICES WILL NEVER STOP COMING
A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.
Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.
As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.
What did I go into this reread remembering?
I remembered the ending (or so I THOUGHT I remembered the ending), and remembered absolutely sobbing my eyes out reading it. I remembered Will wildly chasing Tessa for some reason, and I remembered that Jem became a Silent Brother. And I remember that the epilogue contained Will’s de-….Will’s deat-………I can’t even say it. And of course I remembered the bridge scene, taking place after the events of TMI series, and Jem saying he could finally be with Tessa. I DID NOT remember Tessa’s kidnapping, Jessamine’s death, Jem’s near-death experience, how specifically emotional the Jem and Will moments were, OR anything with Charlotte and the Consul, anything with Cecily or Sophie, or anything about the Lightwood brothers!
How does one list strengths of a book that one loves as deeply as I love this book?
I have always said that all I really want in my stories is, 1) character growth and development throughout, and 2) epic romantic love…let’s just say this series delivers on those two requirements more than I can even wrap my head around. And for that, it will always be one of my favorites.
Will went from a cursed, burdened boy who thought he was unloved and would never know reciprocal love from anyone but his parabatai, who was cursed in his own way by a death sentence…to a man who knew love and showed the deepest of love and affection to those around him, and got to live a long life with the love of his life by his side. Tessa went from a girl with no family left and powers she didn’t understand or want…to a woman warrior who was willing to sacrifice everything for the people she loved, the people who had become her family, and more love for those people than she knew how to handle. And Jem went from a sick boy who only found solace in his music and the borrowed time he knew was winding down…to a man who got to experience love so deep that it was worth waiting centuries for.
I don’t have words for how beautiful this is to me.
I won’t linger on this too long because as far as I’m concerned, this book is 5/5 stars. However, the final battle was a bit anti-climactic (Mortmain just died…just like that? And all the automatons just…fell down?) But whatever cause I wanted that b**** to die ASAP anyways!
But more importantly, I feel like this series went up to the line of acknowledging that Shadowhunters are problematic with a problematic history (i.e., murdering innocent “downworld” creatures), but didn’t quite reckon with the implications of this, or what Shadowhunters are doing as a whole to eliminate this kind of thinking and culture in their society. It’s equivalent to saying “Yeah, our county was racist and murdered/harmed/enslaved people of color for centuries….but we’re not like that anymore!” So in the future, I’d really like to see CC make Shadowhunters actually deal with their history and clear continued bias towards “downworld” creatures. If you’re going to put those metaphors in your literature, you have to address them.
Lastly, I really feel like Jessamine was done dirty here. I DO NOT LIKE HER…but her ending was extremely harsh and saddening. I know the ending of the series left her future (as a ghost) on a bit of a cliffhanger…so I’m curious what if anything has been written about her continued story yet.
Clockwork Angel was Tessa’s book, where we really got to know her, got invested in her life, her new powers, and her journey of self-discovery. Clockwork Prince was Jem’s, where we saw him go from an object of sympathy in the eyes of many to the object of affection in the eyes of his one true love. And all the while, we were discovering Will Herondale, his curse, his secrets, and just how much he yearned for a different life and ultimately the love of the same girl as his parabatai…Tessa. You’re invested in Will’s story immediately as well, but it isn’t until this book that we get to spend those lengthy, self-reflective moments with Will on the page. Though there are several scenes of course devoted to Tessa, Jem, Charlotte, Sophie, Cecily, and the Lightwood’s, Clockwork Princess is Will’s book to shine.
I find it so poetic that the same events that break Will’s heart beyond repair, losing Jem, is the same thing that sets his heart free to love Tessa. It is so painfully beautiful the sacrifices they are all willing to make for each other’s lives and happiness. The love between them all is so pure and deep. Even though I knew Jem was not dead, I still found myself getting so emotional during the part when Will was racing to get Tessa and believes he feels Jem die. The emotions Will proceeds to go through from Jem’s bedside, to the journey to find Tessa, to finding her and confessing his love and of Jem’s “death” was so moving, words quite literally fail me.
It’s hard to pick a favorite scene, as so much of what happens is truly heartbreaking. We find out Jem is dying quicker and sooner than we expect (he will literally have like…a week to live), Tessa is devastated, Will is a complete wreck, and so they band together to search for a cure/more yin fen (the drug that keeps Jem alive) in a last-ditch effort to save him, or at the very least prolong his life. The desperation, yearning, and melancholy seeps off of the page at this point. You are heartbroken for Will, for Tessa, and for Jem, who we find out blew through months-worth of yin fen in order to “burn bright” as possible for Tessa. I couldn’t conjure a more hopeless, heartbreaking situation. And THEN YOU THINK JEM HAS ACTUALLY DIED FOR LIKE 100+ PAGES. And when it is revealed he has survived, only to be a Silent Brother, a life of solitude that requires him to break off his engagement with Tessa, give up his music, and leave them all permanently, this is also somehow MORE DEVASTATING because they have to say these very final-feeling goodbyes?!
Overall, the moments that I loved the most were precisely these moments that broke my heart, or at the very least tugged on my heartstrings for these characters I’ve grown to love so much. Will and Tessa consoling each other after they thought Jem died, Will calling out to Charlotte like a “child who had woken from a nightmare”, finally allowing himself to need the family around him, and mustering up courage to ask Charlotte to bring Jem back, as a Silent Brother, to speak to Tessa in her nightmare-like haze…and those “goodbye” scenes. And Will’s letter to Tessa. And the entire epilogue, which details Will and Tessa’s life together, and how as he grew old, she stayed young (as an immortal), and how Jem was there for the birth of their son, who they named James after him, and Jem was also there when Will passed, when Jem came and played his violin at Will’s deathbed for the first and only time as a Silent Brother, and how after Tessa lost Will, she fled, as she couldn’t bear to stick around and watch her children grow into old age and pass as well, and how she went to live with Magnus, who comforted her when she woke up nightly screaming. And of course the final part of the ending, when we meet Tessa in 2008, during her secret, once-a-year meeting with Jem, and he comes and tells her he is free, no longer has to be a Silent Brother as a cure was finally discovered, and Tessa makes a decision to open her heart and love again, and be with the only other man she will ever love other than Will, the other piece of both of their hearts. I mean!!!! The POETRY OF IT ALL!!!!
On a lighter note, I did also enjoy the moment where Gideon accidentally tells the entire room he plans on marrying Sophie before ever actually proposing to her, and of course when Cecily and Gabriel finally kiss and she “rates” his kissing, as a call-back to when he rated her knife throwing skills.
“For a moment they were in perfect understanding. Jem was what they could still look each other in the eye about.”
“My conscience,” Will whispered. “You are my conscience. You have ever been, James Carstairs.”
“You will not leave me. Not while I live.” -Will to Jem…if only he knew how true this would later be!
“Magnus,” he called. “It’s your blue-eyed boy.” -Woolsey, to Magnus, about Will
“Men may be stronger, but it is women who endure.” -Tessa to Woolsey
“The dove has teeth.” -Woolsey, about Tessa
“Every heart has its own melody. You know mine.” -Jem to Tessa
“Our hearts, they need a mirror, Tessa. We see our better selves in the eyes of those who love us. And there is a beauty that brevity alone provides.” He dropped his gaze, then raised it to her hers. “I would give you everything of myself,” he said. “I would give you more in two weeks than most men would give you in a lifetime.” -Jem to Tessa
You remember what else I said to you that day in the drawing room,” he said. “I want you to be happy, and him to be happy. And yet when you walk that aisle to meet him and join yourselves forever you will walk an invisible path of the shards of my heart, Tessa. I would give over my own life for either of yours. I would give over my own life for your happiness. I thought perhaps that when you told me you did not love me that my own feelings would fall away and atrophy, but they have not. They have grown every day. I love you now more desperately, this moment, than I have ever loved you before, and in an hour I will love you more than that. It is unfair to tell you this, I know, when you can do nothing about it.” He took a shuddering breath. “How you must despise me.” -Will to Tessa
“There is not great secret. You endure what is unbearable, and you bear it. That is all.” -Magnus to Will, about losing someone
“Faith,” said Jem. “That you were better than you thought you were. Forgiveness, that you need not always punish yourself. I always loved you, Will. Whatever you did. And now I need you to do for me what I cannot do for myself. For you to be my eyes when I do not have them. For you to be my hands when I cannot use my own. For you to be my heart when mine is done with beating.” -Jem to Will, when he believes he is dying
“Come back,” he said. “Come back to me, Tessa. Henry said that perhaps, since you had touched the soul of an angel, that you dream of Heaven now, of fields of angels and flowers of fire. Perhaps you are happy in those dreams. But I ask this out of pure selfishness. Come back to me. For I cannot bear to lose all my heart.” -Will to Tessa
“When I am in the darkness, I want to think of it in the light, with you” -Jem, upon telling Tessa to keep his mother’s jade pendant
“Jem?” he said. “Is it you, James?” -Will to Jem, before they say goodbye, a call-back to the first words Tessa hears Jem say (“Will, is it you, Will?“)
“And now at last I am free, and I can finally tell you without fear of danger to you, all that I feel in my heart. You are not the last dream of my soul, you are the first dream, the only dream that I ever was unable to stop myself from dreaming. You are the first dream of my soul, and from that dream, I hope will come all other dreams, a lifetime’s worth. With hope at last, Will Herondale” -An excerpt from Will’s letter to Tessa
“Of course you can have a true Shadowhunter name,” Will said. “You can have mine.” _Will before proposing to Tessa
Marry me,” he said. “Marry me, Tess. Marry me and be called Tessa Herondale. Or be Tessa Gray, or be whatever you wish to call yourself, but marry me and stay with me and never leave me, for I cannot bear another day of my life to go by that does not have you in it.” -Will
“Life is a book, and there are a thousand pages I have not read. I would read them together with you, as many as I can, before I die,” She put her hand against his chest, just over his heart, and felt its beat against her palm, a unique time signature that was all its own. “I only wish you would not speak of dying,” she said. “But even for that, yes, I know how you are with your words, and, Will- I love all of them. Every word you say. The silly ones, the mad ones, the beautiful ones, and the ones that are only for me. I love them, and I love you.” -Tessa
Final Word on the Infernal Devices Series
You can say a lot of things about Cassandra Clare and her Shadowhunter series, but this woman knows how to write emotion that is so gut-wrenching but also so fulfilling. There is quite simply no other series like this one. I love it very deeply, and I’m so glad I finally made the decision to reread it.
I really and truly just want Jem back in my life. I literally feel empty without him. I have to say, I haven’t felt like this since I finished A Court of Wings and Ruin and missed the inner circle/Velaris. THEREFORE, what I will be doing next, is rereading the Mortal Instruments series (takes place in 2008-ish) in it’s entirety in order to better understand the events of the NEXT trilogy, The Dark Artifices trilogy, WHICH HAS JEM AND TESSA IN IT (!!!) and which takes place in sometime after 2008. Ugh. Wish me luck reading several thousand pages of 15 year olds with angst and potential incest concerns. I’m not sure I’m prepared.