Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare | Book Review

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Clockwork Princess is not a roller coaster of emotions. It is a massive dizzying swirl. A moment you are laughing and the next you are pulling your hair out. It shifts so rapidly – not even between chapters. Sometimes, even within the same page.

The Infernal Devices is one of my favourite series. I love it so much and I don’t say that lightly. The historical references, the setting (Victorian London, mainly), the classic book quotations, the concept, the characters, the plot, the narrative, the prose… I love it in its entirety.  My only complaint is that Clockwork Princess is too tragic. But really, having read Clockwork Angel and Clockwork PrinceI should have seen that coming (I love it nonetheless). It’s also the final sequel of the series and it’s harder to get through it when you know that at the end there will be no more.  I am not in the least kidding when I say that strawberries and chocolates got me through this book.

If I have claws or talons for hands, my sheets and mattress would be shredded. Also include the desk and shelf beside my bed as collateral damages in this reading experience, for I might have scratched at them too much. Those didn’t stop me gripping at the pages though or sticking my eyes at the words.

It’s not all tragedy and despair for Cassandra Clare is a brilliant author in a way that she is able to crack the most brilliant silly and witty lines from different characters at the most frightening, grave, and distressing moments. She uses these lines at precise moments that the reader needs it badly but don’t overuse them. To add, only Cassie can bring a tearful romantic moment to a funny halt. Seriously, I wonder how she does it. Lines like that can easily come across as cheesy or strained but they are not; they are fantastic.  Therefore, the emotion sequences consist of groans, squeals, giggles, even fits of laughter, heavy breaths and the occasional whimpers. Then the cycle begins again… maybe in a different order. It doesn’t matter you just turn the page and get sucked in. I highly suggest that you don’t read this book in public. Believe me; people would think you should be sectioned if you do!

It is so much more of the characters’ struggles rather than the plot, so some may find it a little too thin.  However, Cassie Clare made a lot of different and unique characters. This is what I always think that she does best. She makes a character’s identity and personality so well… so real. It almost as if a rapport isn’t built between the reader and the author but between the reader and the characters themselves. I guess, this is the reason why it is so easy to sympathise with them or develop a sense of understanding about them. Although in the case of villains, well… hate them with a red hot passion. We see both primary and secondary characters develop and change and it’s a lovely process. Yes, some chapters keep glossing over the same dilemmas over and over again with characters worrying about the same things. It makes you wanna scream at them to get a move on. But aren’t everyone like that – consistently nagged by the same problems. I see it as a part of their evolution. It also makes the conclusions to the said crises more imperative.

It is evident that a lot of research went into writing this book. The Victorian aspects are spot on. The author tried to use locations and routes which exists or existed in the past. The use of legends and folklore stories and quotations from famous writers during the era are very nice touches. All of these make the readers create more authentic images in their heads.

Cassandra Clare gives beautiful descriptions that make it effortless to visualise the scenes. Sometimes I’m thankful the words are too graphic. Sometimes I’m honestly not because several scenes in this novel are not for the light-hearted. There are brutal and upsetting scenes that you won’t like to be almost tangible when you read them. Moreover, it doesn’t help during mind- boggling moments and revelations as they would leave with you reeling.

There is also the some stuff in the book that I can’t avoid to take noticed of and would like to mention…  There are so many Welsh references in Clockwork Princess. Language, locations, folklores… I don’t know them and they are driving me up the wall. I mean, it was suppose to be in London, which I know about and I am familiar with. Nevertheless, it made me want to see Wales so badly! Especially, Llyn Cau and Cadair Idris. They just seem so serene and beautiful and the closest you’ll get to a fairytale ambience. Another thing is the constant gender, social and power struggle all through-out. They may be a sub-plot, even less than that, but I consider the feminist and (even lesser) class and racial undertones added bonuses.

The book lies heavily on the romance too. Maybe too heavy for some people’s liking. And it’s not just one love story. There are various forms of it, like different flavours to suit everyone’s taste. I like that variation since when one of them is tragic at least the other one is lighter or more silly and cute.

I would argue that the love story in here is important, albeit a little complicated. It’s centre and integral to the story. It always have been and the book doesn’t try to say otherwise. Actually, it’s not the love story of Tessa, Will and Jem that is important but rather the resolution to it. I have always wondered how Cassie Clare will conclude this series in a realistic note for the nature of her characters or to the world she created. (Let’s not forget that this is a world of angels, demons and other supernatural what nots.) It’s a love triangle that I find so very much problematic compared to other ones I’ve read. It’s so different in the way that it challenges the very concept of the conventional love triangles we are so familiar with. There is no jealousy in here. There’s just love, forgiveness, selflessness and understanding. It’s surreal sometimes but I can also perceive that it is possible. That’s a hard line to thread and I can also imagine that driving it into a desirable resolve is very difficult.

Having said that, I could understand why Cassie Clare gave The Infernal Devices the conclusion it has.  I feel that the epilogue gave me two alternative endings and as a reader it is entirely my choice on how I am going to take it. Maybe it is superficial.  Maybe it is safe. People would have different opinions. But I like the choice I was given. The ending, I think, is designed and aimed at pleasing everybody. And I was. I put the book down with a smile on my face.