My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was my first exposure to Ms. Claire’s milieu of semi-angelic Nephilim, half-demon Warlocks and the various denizens of Downworld. I must say I am pleasantly intrigued. The story here is well paced and engaging. The characters are well fleshed, even the minor players, with clear motivations and hints of depth. It held my interest up through the final act and provided a satisfying payoff in the end.
The Clockwork Angel is actually the first of a prequel trinity to her very successful Mortal Instruments series. Whereas the Mortal Instruments series is set in present day New York, The Infernal Devices series is set in Victorian London. This, of course, is what drew my attention. The setting and appropriate window dressing, such as the incessantly tinkering Henry with his outlandish inventions and an army of clockwork automatons, place this novel, and the succeeding two books of the series, firmly in the Steampunk genre, though some may argue for a more precise nomenclature of Gaslight Fantasy given the heavy emphasis on magic and other-worldly beings.
Regardless of the exact classification, however, this reviewer considers The Clockwork Angel an excellent example of the genre. Ms. Claire makes excellent use of the setting and establishes her particular variations with clarity and consistency. The story itself unfolds at an acceptable pace as the central character, Tessa Gray, gradually becomes aware of and informed about the world of the Shadowhunters and Downworlders. The sense of urgency and building tension carry the plot forward to the final confrontation which includes a satisfying final twist. I recommend this novel for anyone looking for a solid urban paranormal or steampunk adventure.