Review | Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

“It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them.”

Although I finished Clockwork Prince in a day, I didn’t like it quite as much as Clockwork Angel. The pacing was much slower and primarily focused on the love triangle, so it took about 250 pages for me to be fully drawn into the story. While I appreciated getting to know more about the characters and their backstories, it would have been nice if this was better balanced with the main plot – by the time it picked up, the momentum and urgency that had been built up in the first book was lost.

After this book, I’m sympathetic to poor Will Herondale. One of the huge reveals was related to why he pushed everyone away, and though it doesn’t excuse the cruelty that he exhibited in Clockwork Angel, it was pretty tragic. His fierce love and protectiveness for Jem were on display even more prominently than in the first book, making him so much more than the brooding bad boy that book 1 set him up to be.

Unfortunately, our heroine, Tessa, didn’t shine quite as bright. Though she delivered some truly amazing one-liners, Tessa really didn’t do much beyond pine for both Will and Jem. Strong friendships sit at the heart of the love triangle, and while I appreciate that it would be a difficult decision to make, there were more pressing issues (like the Magister) at hand.

Overall, Clockwork Prince was a slower read that added depth to the characters, but didn’t progress the plot much. Hopefully the pacing of Clockwork Princess is better!

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