I tried this author’s Mortal Instruments series and wasn’t impressed enough to keep track of the series.
However, apparently I was wrong. Clockwork Angel is the first in a new, but connected, series, Infernal Devices, with characters and action that are historical precedents to the Mortal Instruments series.
Basically, this is our world with a secret shadow world populated by three kinds of beings: mortals, shadowhunters (part angel, part human hunters/enforcers) and downworlders (warlocks, demons, vampires, etc).
In this story, Tessa has just arrived in London from the US expecting to find her brother. Instead two strange women pick her up in their carriage and take her to be imprisoned in their house where they make Tessa perform strange meditations and exercises until Tessa’s special power comes out: Tessa can shapechange into other people by touching items of that person, but not only change her outer shape, Tessa can also feel the thoughts of the person as well.
Tessa stays with the sisters under threat of harm to her brother until two handsome Shadowhunters, the cavalier Will and the mysterious Jem, save her.
Tessa stays with them while trying to find out what happened to her brother, unwittingly becoming important in a power struggle among mortals and vampires who wish to break the Accords of peace that have kept them under the Shadowhunters thumbs for all this time.
Romance? Check. Tessa struggles with feelings for both boys. Angsty heroes? Check. Both Will (although his reasons are more mysterious) and Jem are full of teh angst.
Plucky heroine? Check. Tessa makes decisions based on her feelings for her brother that are often unwise, but she never backs down.
Cool Steampunk married to Urban Fantasy? Check. Cogs and mechanicals abound, and their role in the political struggle as a weapon that might be effective against the half-angel shadowhunters plays out in cool ways.
A satisfying conclusion to the story while leaving things open for more? Check. While the problem of Tessa’s livelihood and her brother is settled, the tightly woven political intrigue and relationship stuff is still up in the air at the end.
Very satisfying, delicious entry in the historical urban fantasy market.
This Book’s Food Designation Rating: Early grey tea with crumpets featuring real cream and jam for the London historical elements, great relationships, and cool steampunk details