Home > Mitch's Musings > Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess

By: Cassandra Clare

Release Date: March 19, 2013

Rating: 5 Stars


A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

From the desk of someone who apparently is a much better judge of these types of books than I:

Message from a concerned Will Herondale fan (not me obviously, I’m still getting pitchforks and torches thrown at me from said fan after my review of Clockwork Prince):

Please. It’s gotta be Will. Please. PLEASE. You just don’t understand. PLEASE?


If I had my way, Cassandra Clare would be writing nothing but steampunk. And I do mean that in the nicest terms possible, I’m a guy who looks at books based on individual merit, and she’s been awfully uneven over the years. There was that first Shadowhunters series which shall remain nameless but (*gulp* I am so getting flayed alive for this) almost turned me off her books for good, then Clockwork Angel surprised me with how much Clare’s writing suited the Victorian era London setting, while Clockwork Prince, eh, better not get into that one, but the gist of it is that I’ve enjoyed The Infernal Devices far more than I ever expected, even if (*has that uneasy feeling again*) I’ll continue to insist The Mortal Instruments are borderline unreadable.

Clockwork Princess though, I’m genuinely surprised at how much I liked, no loved, this bittersweet end to the series. Those who have been following me for awhile now will know I’m not actually really a fan of the Will or Jem relationship drama, I’d much more rather read about the mythology behind the series, the interplay between the various forces, angelic and demonic, Shadowhunter and Downworlder, and in particular the looming threat of the Magister’s clockwork army and the tension between the mechanical and the divine, you know, the stuff that makes the plot cool rather than ending with me basically handing tissues to my friends or watching with one eyebrow raised as they run in place screaming into a pillow, but lucky for me this last installment is a huge improvement over Clockwork Prince in that respect. I don’t think it’s a perfect balance, the Will and Jem drama is a bit too much for me and drags in places (maybe because I’m already dreading the combination of awwws and squees incoming in 3…2…1…), but, you know, once in awhile even I can be a sucker for the melodrama even I’m not immune to the appeal of these characters.

But you know what? I think Tessa explains it way better than I ever will:

“You know that feeling when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing close around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage, and you cannot let go or turn the course aside.”

See? That’s exactly it, I like these characters that I’ve gotten to know over the course of three books, and once I started liking them I started to care about their problems, Jem dying, Will and Jem’s friendship, heck even Tessa’s heart torn in half, so it didn’t really bother me that there are chapters of Tessa and Will pouring their hearts out over Jem’s health or Tessa angsting over her engagement to Jem while having feelings for Will – it works because it’s exactly as Tessa says, I’m tied to their story and just can’t look away – who knew I’d be so invested in what some would describe as pointless, needless suffering and pain? And not just with Tessa and Will and Jem, I’ve always maintain the best books are the ones with supporting characters you’d want to root for as much as the main ones, so here’s my shoutout to Charlotte and Henry, Gideon and Sophie, Gabriel and Cecily, even Jessamine who doesn’t deserve what’s coming to her but I can see why Clare took that direction with her character.

Of course, as I’ve already said before, my favorite aspect of the series has always been this strangely fascinating mix of steampunk and angel lore that Clare’s created. A demonic clockwork army on its own will instantly grab my attention, but when it’s backed up by this frightening message:


Woah! Barely kept myself from flipping to the end to see how that ominous note plays out, but I’m glad I didn’t, because the creepy clockwork army delivers. Even more than that, though, Clare knows how to tie together references and events from her various books, and in a way that doesn’t even require reading her other series; all the endless speculation and theories have been a lot of fun, and although many of them turn out to be correct, like say the identity of the mysterious Brother Zachariah, Tessa’s origins , heck, even the ending of the book, some of them are also wrong, and which are right versus which are wrong may certainly be very surprising. And Clare certainly knows how to bring events full circle, the origins and purpose of Tessa’s mysterious clockwork angel, the series’ namesake, is finally revealed and I’m a huge sucker fan of moments like that, perfectly fitting on so many levels.

Clockwork Princess is most likely going to be the last Cassandra Clare book I’ll ever read, as I have no interest in returning to The Mortal Instruments or trying Clare’s next Shadowhunters series, but I’m glad it ends the series in a satisfying, self contained place. My only advice? Concerned fans of Will Herondale should most definitely skip the epilogue 😉

Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

Categories: Mitch's Musings Tags: ,
  1. Katy
    March 20, 2013 at 11:49 am

    I hate you for finishing already. I haven’t even had a chance to pick it up yet. Damn work, always gets in the way.

    • March 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Hey you ditched me for Crap Kingdom. I should be mad at YOU

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