About a year ago, my friend Sara lent me her copy of Clockwork Angel. She had recommended Cassandra Clare’s other YA series, The Mortal Instruments, which I had really enjoyed. She said that Clockwork Angel was the prequel to these novels but didn’t involve the same characters. I was both pleased and surprised by this new series. It combines both elements of the fantasy YA fare from the first series with the seemingly newly popular “steampunk” literary genre. You may ask – what the heck is this steampunk you speak of? Well, it’s sort of hard to define…basically it is a pretty new literary genre with most people attributing it to novels published in the 1980 and 1990’s. Most of these stories are based in the Victorian period, when “steam” was predominantly used as a locomotive. It then adds in elements of fantasy or maybe advanced machines or supernatural elements. (This definition taken from www.steampunk.com. Check it out for more information on steampunk). Back to Clockwork Angel. Here is the story in a nutshell :
Tessa Gray has just sailed across the ocean at the behest of her brother, Nathaniel, to join him in his new life in London. Upon arriving in this strange new city, she is met by two even stranger women who are known as the Dark Sisters. They come bearing a letter from Nathaniel and promptly whish Tessa off to their house. It is only there that she realizes that she is now a prisoner of the Dark Sisters, who force her to train and use a strange magical ability she wasn’t even aware she had. They tell her that she must do as they say in order to save her brother, whom they have kidnapped. When two mysterious young men come to rescue Tessa from the house, she leaves with them and becomes entangled in their world. They are Shadowhunters – a race of half-human half-angel beings who keep the Earth safe from demons. She enlists the Shadowhunters to help her find her brother. Meanwhile she can’t seem to get one of the Shadowhunters, Will Herondale, out of her mind. As she become more familiar with her ability and unravels the mystery behind her brother’s disappearance, things definitely are not what they appear to be…
First, I want to say that I know many people will be turned off by the YA aspect of this novel. I just have to say if you don’t read YA you are missing out on some of the most creative books out there. Second, I really enjoyed this book! It’s been a while since I read The Mortal Instruments series so I can’t be sure without a re-read but I liked this book even better than that series. (Shocking I know!) I give this book 4 stars out of 5 on the BRFMF scale. If you haven’t tried Cassandra Clare before then I really suggest this book. You certainly don’t need to have read the Mortal Instruments series in order to read this story. It will still make sense to you. I enjoyed both the story and the romance between Tessa and Will. I also really enjoyed the steampunk elements to this tale which has inspired me to read some more books in this genre. (Stay tuned for some reviews on that subject;)
Three appeals: Fantastical elements, Steampunk, rich Victorian background
What to read next : I’ve compiled a lengthy list but there was just so much out there! First, if you like this book then you should certainly read Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series which begins with the book, City of Bones – Clary Fray has just seen three tattooed teenagers kill another one and then the body disappear. When she realizes nobody else can see them, she seeks them out and the teenagers introduce themselves as Shadowhunters, a race of beings charged with protecting the earth from demons. When her mother is kidnapped, she turns to them for help.
If you enjoy the YA Angel romance angle of these books then try:
1) Fallen by Lauren Kate
When Luce is sent to a boarding school, she meets Daniel. Although he wants nothing to do with her she is inexplicably drawn to him. She will soon learn his secret and the secret behind the mysterious shadows that haunt her.
2) Angel Burn by LA Weatherly
In Weatherly’s world, angels aren’t guardians, God’s messengers or benevolent beings. They are interdimensional beings who feed on the energy of humans. The humans who have an ecstatic experience, will eventually develop serious illnesses and die (i.e. the Angel Burn). Alex is an Angel Killer who is sent to assassinate Willow, who is only half-Angel. When he learns that she might be able to destroy the Angel’s homeworld, he rescues her instead. You can probably guess what happens next but it’s still fun to read it….
3) Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Nora Grey, high school sophomore, can’t seem to stop thinking about Patch, the new transfer student. He is both handsome and creepy, especially when she starts hearing his voice in her head and thinks he might be stalking her. And what is the deal with the v-shaped scar on his back that looks almost exactly like somebody ripped some wings off him. Could he be….?
If you enjoyed the steampunk YA aspect try:
1) Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts. (taken from the database Novelist)
2) The Haunting of Alaizabel Gray by Chris Wooding
As Thaniel, a wych-hunter, and Cathaline, his friend and mentor, try to rid the alleys of London’s Old Quarter of the terrible creatures that infest them, their lives become entwined with that of a woman who may be either mad or possessed. (taken from Novelist)
If you would like to try adult steampunk fiction try:
1) Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter
It all began when the Brown Leather Man, a mysterious being with a secret older than humankind, asked proper Victorian London gentleman George Dower to repair a weird device. How coud George have know that this was but one of the many infernal devices his genius father had build, and that he himself would soon be pursued by former clients of his father? For George had always been the unsuspecting key to his father’s incredible plans, a key that others would like to possess – from the automaton who wore George’s own face to the mad Lord Bendray, bent on using George to destroy the entire Earth. A romp through Victorian England by an author said to have “the brain-burned intensity of his mentor, Philip K. Dick.” This is considered a classic of steampunk fiction.(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
2) Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Inventor Leviticus Blue creates a machine that accidentally decimates Seattle’s banking district and uncovers a vein of Blight Gas that turns everyone who breathes it into the living dead. Sixteen years later Briar, Blue’s widow, lives in the poor neighborhood outside the wall that’s been built around the uninhabitable city. Life is tough with a ruined reputation, but she and her teenage son Ezekiel are surviving–until Zeke impetuously decides that he must reclaim his father’s name from the clutches of history. (taken from Novelist)
3) Soulless by Gail Carriger
When Alexia, a soulless spinster with the ability to negate supernatural powers, accidentally kills a vampire, her life goes from bad to worse when Lord Maccon, a gorgeous werewolf, is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. A comic steampunk novel. (taken from Novelist)
4) The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
Unexpectedly promoted to detective when his predecessor goes missing and a supervisor is killed, agency clerk Charles Unwin struggles with inexperience and nerves during a case in which he encounters bizarre clues and is framed for murder. (taken from Novelist)
5) The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by G. W. Dahlquist
A spy, a killer, and an impostor – this book features three extraordinary heroes. Miss Temple didn’t come to the city for an adventure – she came to find a husband. But when her fiance, Roger Bascombe threw her over for no apparent reason, Miss Temple decided to find out why. Yet, following Roger to a masked ball (one with a most sinister purpose) will take Miss Temple very far from the respectable world she has always known …Cardinal Chang, so thoroughly disreputable that he has been hired to kill a man, is disconcerted to find his masked target has already been assassinated. No longer able to trust those who hired him (if ever he did), he sets out to find who has beaten him to his quarry – and why …Dr Svenson did not ask to be a chaperone to his Prince, but he is loyal all the same, even when the young prince’s debauched appetites put him in the clutches of a cabal of very nasty characters and involve him in a diabolical ‘process’ that has singular effects on the human mind. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
Whew (picture me wiping brow) that was a lot of suggestions. I hope this starts you in the right direction. Please let me know if you have read one of these books and how you like it. I want to know if my suggestions are good!
Thanks Friends and enjoy!
Novelist database – accessible through the Online Database section on www.imcpl.org
Fantastic Fiction – http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/