Last year I read the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. This book series entails the adventures of Clary and Jace in the world of shadowhunters, set in contemporary New York. But before I knew this series existed, I had already purchased The Infernal Devices series. Set in Victorian London, this is the prequel to the Mortal Instruments series and so I decided to read the original series first so I wouldn’t get confused. I just finished reading The Infernal Devices and I thought I’d let you know what I think of it.
The Infernal Devices is a 3 book series about shadowhunters in Victorian England. Especially that last part of the description is what initially made me read this series more than the original. I love stories set in Victorian times and especially in London. I have read many of these stories and took Victorian literature courses when I was still an English student, so I didn’t exactly go blindly into this setting. Since I truly enjoyed the Mortal Instruments series, despite its simple language and easy plot lines, I couldn’t wait to read about the adventures of Tessa Gray and her induction in the shadowhunter world by her not one, but two love interests Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs, as she figures out her own heritage.
I will first give a plot description of all three books and give my opinion at the end.
Tessa Gray travels from London to New York to meet her brother after their aunt died. Once she arrives she is in for a grave surprise: she is kidnapped by The Dark Sisters who force her to use her powers. Her special skill? Tessa can change into different people. Only she never knew about this until she meets the Dark Sisters. When she is told she is to be married off to a man only known as The Magister, Tessa decides to run, which leads to repercussions from the Dark Sisters. As she is trying to escape a second time, she is rescued from The Sisters’ lair by William Herondale: tragic hero and Shadowhunter. And as Tessa is introduced to the Shadow World of downworlders and demons, she find refuge in the Institute and learns about what it means to be a Shadowhunter the hard way.
Tessa remains in London after she has found out that her brother not only betrayed her, but her entire life as she knew it was a farce. However, the secret of her power remains and while she has decided that Will is no longer worth her attention and her focus is being shifted towards Jem: Will’s best friend who is dependent on demon drugs to keep himself alive. In the mean time Will is trying to work through some problems himself, while at the same time the Lightwood family is testing the patience of the Shadowhunters at the London Institute.
With Will’s sister Cecily newly added to the band of Shadowhunters at the London Institute disaster quickly strikes again. The Lightwood brothers need their help to hunt down and kill their father-turned-demon. In the mean time Tessa and Jem are preparing to get married, but will they still be in time before Jem’s illness takes him from this earth forever? And what about Mortmain? It is obvious he has the upper hand now, but no one knows where he is at. As life seems to be okay for a little while, the Consul decides to make life hard on Charlotte, while ignoring all signs of Mortmain strengthening his army. When Tessa finds herself in the clutches of The Dark Sisters once again, Jem is too weak to give pursuit. It is Will who comes after her and as the days of Jem’s life are numbered Tessa takes some decisions that could very well take her own life.
All in all I really liked this series. I liked it better than its Mortal Instruments counterpart. The characters are well-rounded, the shadowhunter world is not necessarily better explained, but somehow more believable. Characters were less annoying and because there is a focus on one general antagonist that feeds into all three story lines, makes for a far more cohesive story.
Another reason why the story was more believable was that Tessa is a more likable character and her motives are more central to the story lines. Where Clary stands more on the sidelines, Tessa is a more integral part to the goings on in the book, even though she is as much of an outsider as Clary is. One big bonus point is the addition of Magnus Bane, who plays an important role in the story line, just like in the first series. Since he is one of the most easy to like characters in the books, it is a good thing the author kept him in this story.
The only thing I sometimes doubted was the believability was the Victorian setting and especially the poems and excerpts from contemporary works. It says in the back that these are all works that circulated in 1878, when most of the action takes place, but I highly doubt these stories, poems and excerpts would be well known enough for the characters to know them. Also, the depiction of Victorian London as a whole is not as on point as some other works I have read by other authors. However, if you are not that well-read into Victorian literature or Victorian London, I don’t think this will bother you.
This is a very enjoyable read that I would highly recommend. Since the story is finished at the end of book 3, it makes for a well-rounded set that takes up less time than reading all 6 Mortal Instruments books. Where 6 books were needed to exhaust the characters in the first series, this condenses it into 3, which makes for fewer parts in the story line that seem to drag on which makes even faster paced and easy breezy to read than the first series.
Have you read these series or would you like to?