Author: Cassandra Clare
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Description: 510 pages, Young Adult Fiction
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, though 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.
Back At The Institute
This book was packed with plot twists and progressions that I could never have seen coming. I was honestly excited for Jem on the covers, and I’ve been all for him and Tessa since Blackfriars Bridge. However, I like how Will wasn’t left out too much, and was actually given an explanation for his behavior, as well as lots of exposure besides (albeit accompanied by a certain warlock with strange tendencies). I also appreciated how, apart from Jem, Will and Tessa, I was also given more insight into the thoughts of the other residents at the Shadowhunter Institute. There were some heartwarming scenes between the Branwells, and for some inexplicable reason, Jessamine grew on me in this one. I completely disliked her attitude at first, but she became a stronger and more independent person, despite the fact that her reasoning skills lacked as much a her love for her brethren. My (arguably) favorite additions to the plot were the Lightwood brothers, who weren’t as snotty as Will would’ve liked us to think. The scenes with them were lighter, and provided me some distraction from the growing problems the rest of them were having with Mortmain and his army. Though the action scenes were still pretty much mediocre at best, I think it overall met my expectations, surprising me exceedingly.
The Trouble With Love Is
Not all too surprisingly, however, was the fact that the love triangle was highlighted in this book. Though in my opinion, the author definitely could have replaced some of the mushier scenes with ones that actually help the plot progress, I think that the more sensitive ones helped me understand the anguish and pain the characters were feeling (although somehow, the fact that Tessa was still more a stranger than family didn’t help me empathize to each of their causes). In the end, however, I got that they simply grew to love one another like that, and since love is hardly a feeling you can volunteer whether to give it or take it back, I don’t blame them or the author in that case, for that matter. And though it’s somehow irksome that the Institute became a sort of match-making heaven, continuing on to the third book, I think all of the characters who found love were deserving of it. I agree that not everyone needs a counterpart, but I know what it’s like to feel empty when you’re alone, so in a way, I’ve decided to just be happy for them and hope it all works out in the end. No need to be so nitpicky about the wish fulfillment factor (though it’s tempting).
I still don’t get what he really wants with Tessa, but I guess that complete understanding would require an actual, complete trilogy. Mortmain was in hiding for the most part, which hardly counts as a trait any fearsome mastermind hellbent on destruction should possess. But maybe he was just being smart, or saving his strength for later, or utilizing his clockwork army, but I really could have done with a little less disagreement on the dinner table, and a little more Shadowhunter action. Okay, maybe a lot less and more. Though the discussions on the table were necessary for plotting Mortmain’s demise, I think that they got repetitive more often than not, and those scenes became a drag especially when they weren’t explaining anything useful. I wasn’t all too scared of the threat Mortmain posed at that point, which was lame because I should have been. However, I think that in this book, I gleaned a lot more information into the truth behind Tessa’s birth, who she was and what she was made to do. I was also able to better understand what was going on, as opposed to reading and rereading a few pages out of confusion. It was less of a hassle for me.
Love and Loss
The books in the series grow decidedly darker from first to third. What really struck me was the way the characters and their losses were portrayed, as well as their feelings and their innermost desires. I was happy that there was an opportunity to understand them as individuals, who, though not entirely human, had imperfections and made mistakes the same way we do (still really hurts though that I’m a boring mundane). Jem remains my greatest sin as well as Will’s. I really felt for him and his sense of longing for better health, not only so that he himself could live longer, but also so that he could live to protect the people that meant the most to him. I was amazed by the chemistry he had with Tessa, and there were moments between them that made me smile to look stupid, and cry to no real reason. Because their relationship had that effect on me, I really felt like I wanted them to work out. Poor Will. I was annoyed by his behavior a little in the first book, but though he got progressively worse, I already knew why he was what he was, and I felt hurt for him. Again, I loved how the book was able to stir emotions in me and make me really appreciate how the characters worked together. To anyone looking for some good romance against a backdrop of deceit and vengeance, I’d say this book is definitely one to try out.
If you have any opinions, tell me what you think in the comments!