In this prequel to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, Tessa Gray, an orphan from New York, has come to London in search of her older brother Nate as their guardian has just passed away. Upon her arrival, she is snatched up by the Dark Sisters, malevolent female warlocks who trick Tessa into coming with them by threatening the life of her brother. As their prisoner, Tessa is taught that she has a strange power; she can shed her appearance and become someone else for a brief while, even if they are dead. The Dark Sisters have taught her this skill with the intent to marry her to ‘The Magister’, and, as Tessa despairs of ever leaving their clutches and escaping marriage to The Magister, she is rescued by young Shadowhunters, Will Herondale and James ‘Jem’ Carstairs.
Will and Jem escort her back to the London Institute, headed by a young and tiny but steel-willed woman named Charlotte Branwell and her absent-minded inventor husband, Henry. In exchange for information on the Dark Sisters and any of their plots, Charlotte allows Tessa to stay in the Institute and promises help to find her lost brother. However, when Tessa relates the circumstances of her shape-shifting, she is held under suspicion as being part-demon, a warlock. Tessa and the Shadowhunters have only begun to see the danger they’re in as the mysterious Magister and his clockwork creatures pose a deadly threat to all.
This series is decidedly different from The Mortal Instruments, but with some of the same key players like Magnus Bane. One could even argue the similarities between Jace/Clary/Isabel/Alec/Sebastian and Will/Tessa/Jessamine/Jem/Nate. I’m certainly not going to expound upon that except to say everyone is entitled to an opinion. I found this series, overlooking the character comparisons, to be just as gripping and entertaining. Below are reviews from the next two in the series where I speak further about my own opinions.
In this second part of the Infernal Devices series, Tessa is still being hunted by the Magister, whom we now know is none other than Mortmain. Further betrayal is her brother Nate’s wholehearted devotion to Mortmain and his plots. Plus, the London Institute is facing inner turmoil as Charlotte’s position of leadership is questioned within the Clave. Tessa, Will, and Jem must find out more about Mortmain and his motives as well as his future plans. When they travel to the Yorkshire countryside to unearth Mortmain’s past, they find elements of their own pasts entangled within his plots. To make matters more complicated, Tessa is romantically torn between Will and Jem. She loves Will because of his intense vulnerability despite his tough guy exterior, and she loves Jem because of his self-sacrifical and sweet nature despite his very obvious flaw. You will find that this book is a definite page-turner even if you’re only sucked into the romance!
In this final installment of the Infernal Devices, Tessa is torn asunder from every direction. Because Jem is dying and will be taken from her quickly, she chooses to go through with the wedding. Will and Tessa know of their love for each other but choose to set it aside for Jem’s sake. Jem can only watch as the people he loves sacrifice themselves for him because Mortmain has taken all supplies of the drug he needs to stay alive. Tessa is still confused about her past, and as everything comes into collision, the reader can only watch both fascinated and terrified as the conflict erupts into a fiery conflagration. Mortmain only needs one more thing to destroy the Shadowhunters. Just Tessa. When he takes her captive to control his demonic clockwork army, we see just how important the relationships between the Shadowhunters and Tessa truly are. Because Jem is dying, Will must ride to rescue her alone. Meanwhile, Jem is faced with only one option if he wants to live. Charlotte and the other Shadowhunters are desperately trying to thwart Mortmain’s influence in the Clave when the bloodbath breaks out. It is up to Tessa to make her choices, and only she can choose to save herself and the others from imminent annihilation.
There are lots of things I could’ve added, minor plot points and things, but really, you’ll be way more excited when you discover them for yourself than if I pointed them out. I will say that all emotions are laid raw and bleeding in this final installment of the trilogy, and if you’ve been addicted up to now, you will not be disappointed. Honestly, I believe I liked this series better than the Mortal Instruments series, simply because I thought the emotions, characters, and overall plot were more believable. I especially enjoyed how tightly wrapped up the ending and epilogue were…I love when all of the strings are nicely tied up!
However, one thing that just did NOT translate to me at all was how Tessa could really love Jem. I get that he’s good and noble and self-sacrificial for Tessa, but that doesn’t make me (as a reader) fall in love with him. I still couldn’t understand how she could choose Jem at all because I only loved Will. If you’ve read it, which were you? Team Jem, Team Will, or Team Tessa (choose both).
I own this series because I’m constantly lending it out to friends and family, so I think it’s a great series. Not to be viewed as life-changing or epic, though. 🙂