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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

A Nineteenth Century London In Which Vampires And Angels Run Riot

Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare

A prequel to the hugely successful Mortal Instruments series, The Clockwork Angel is set in an alternative nineteenth century London in which vampires and warlocks, and the half human half angel warriors who are their nemesis, live cheek-by-jowl with the unwitting citizens, or mundanes as the supernatural folk call them.

It’s the story of Tessa who arrives from New York, penniless and friendless, in search of her missing brother Nate, only to be immediately kidnapped by two hideous sisters who thrust random objects at her, screaming at her to ‘change’. She has no idea what it is they want but when she learns that they are holding her brother prisoner and will not hesitate to kill him, she struggles to cooperate. In doing so she learns a terrible truth about herself.

Ingeniously constructed, the plot unpeels like the layers of an onion, driving the reader on at pell-mell pace towards the thrilling set of climaxes with which the last part of the book explodes as theatrically as a choreographed firework display.

There’s an endorsement by Stephanie Meyer on the front cover but the truth is that beside this glittering confection with its wealth of literary allusion and its cunning intertextuality, the Twilight series is the merest pap. Stephanie Meyer’s prose is humdrum and repetitive; Cassandra Clare’s by contrast is witty and intelligent, constantly declaring her delight in the literary tradition she so brazenly pillages. This is a terrific piece of fantasy for young adult readers. If I could give it six stars I would.