Monday, June 3, 2013

Audio Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Release Date: 8/31/10
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
Provided By: Purchased

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

 From Website:
Cassandra Clare was born to American parents in Teheran, Iran and spent much of her childhood travelling the world with her family, including one trek through the Himalayas as a toddler where she spent a month living in her father’s backpack. She lived in France, England and Switzerland before she was ten years old.
Since her family moved around so much she found familiarity in books and went everywhere with a book under her arm. She spent her high school years in Los Angeles where she used to write stories to amuse her classmates, including an epic novel called “The Beautiful Cassandra” based on a Jane Austen short story of the same name (and  which later inspired her current pen name).
After college, Cassie lived in Los Angeles and New York where she worked at various entertainment magazines and even some rather suspect tabloids where she reported on Brad and Angelina’s world travels and Britney Spears’ wardrobe malfunctions. She started working on her YA novel, City of Bones, in 2004, inspired by the urban landscape of Manhattan, her favourite city. She turned to writing fantasy fiction full time in 2006 and hopes never to have to write about Paris Hilton again.
Cassie’s first professional writing sale was a short story called “The Girl’s Guide to Defeating the Dark Lord” in a Baen anthology of humor fantasy. Cassie hates working at home alone because she always gets distracted by reality TV shows and the antics of her two cats, so she usually sets out to write in local coffee shops and restaurants. She likes to work in the company of her friends, who see that she sticks to her deadlines.

This is actually the UK trailer, but the US one was abysmal (seriously), so a tip of the hat to the amazing book trailer makers at Walker Books UK, our neighbors across the pond!
(Check out Steph's Stacks You Tube Channel for more book and movie trailers!)

The lovely Jennifer Ehle may be known to many of  BBC you as the Lizzie Bennett in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice (also starring Colin Firth -and his wet shirt- as Mr. Darcy).
Ehle has made quite a name for herself since that 1995 production, starring in movies such as Contagion, The King's Speech, The Ides of March and Zero Dark Thirty.

Clockwork Angel is the first book in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments spinoff: The Infernal Devices series. Call it blasphemy, but (having read the current entirety of both series) I think The Infernal Devices is considerably better than its already awesome predecessor. Do not fret if you haven't read the Mortal Instruments series yet, Clockwork Angel is set a hundred years before the City of Bones and the series absolutely can stand on its own.
The characters are better developed and infinitely more clever and snarky (which I love). Where Jace came off a little pouty for my tastes (in City of Bones, etc.) somehow Will pulls the same sentiment off with less churlishness and more aplomb! Fans of the earlier series will be delighted to see some of their faves make cameos in this series (such as Magnus Bane!). As the Infernal Devices series progresses, it is interesting to see where plans are laid that impact the present Shadowhunter world and Easter Eggs abound for die hard fans of Clare's work.
So, the story goes, that our heroine, Tessa Gray, comes to London from America at her brother's request after the death of their guardian Aunt. Immediately upon arrival, however, Tessa is Shanghaied and introduced to the dark secrets of Downworld. She has powers of her own and is thrust into plots, plans and manipulations that she would have never suspected existed in her previous life.
Along the way, she meets the Shadowhunters at the London Institute and becomes a part of the family, fighting for good. No supernatural YA novel worth its salt would dare show its cover without including a love triangle, so naturally, we are treated to one in Clockwork Angel. While this device generally annoys me, in this instance (and in the subsequent novels) the triangle is natural, touching and (spoiler alert) eventually heartbreaking.
Audio Notes:
Jennifer Ehle has been one of my favorite actresses since her turn as Miss Elizabeth Bennett in the BBC version of Austen's Pride & Prejudice. As the sole narrator of the audio version of Clockwork Angel, Ehle puts her acting chops to work by playing all parts to great effect! Her wry sense of humor shines through while playing Will and she conveys a true sense of innocence and strength while portraying Tessa. I would highly recommend the audio version and it is one of my favorite audio adaptations of all time.
Clockwork Angel is a must-read novel that will pull you into the world of Downworlders and Shadowhunters, Angels and Demons, Tessa, James and Will and will keep you begging for more of this amazing series

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