My rating: 3.5 / 5
This is yet another of the books which has been sitting on my to be read list for ages. I read and loved (for the most part) the mortal instruments series so was looking forward to and dreading the infernal devices.
It sometimes seems to me that when an author writes a fantastic book or series they stick to the same formula and milk it for all it’s worth. This isn’t true of all authors but it has happened often enough to make me wary.
In this case I have to admit I’m undecided. The setting of Victorian London is very different from the contemporary New York of mortal instruments and the whole book has a very different feel to it despite the similarities. One of the things I love about Cassandra Clare is the way she describes people and places. She gives you a great feel for a place and creates just the right atmosphere without being overly descriptive. In this, London feels dark, miserable and mysterious throughout making everything seem very sinister.
For Tessa, newly arrived on the ship from America, London definitely seems that way. Following the recent death of her aunt she goes to find her brother (and only remaining family) Nathaniel. Arriving she is met at the port by the Dark Sisters who she is told have been sent by her brother to collect her but all is not as it seems.
At the same time shadowhunters Will and Jem are investigating a series of demon related deaths. In the course of the investigation their path crosses with Tessa’s and she is drawn into a world with vampires, demons, warlocks and other creatures.
I liked the start of this book a lot as it took you straight into the action and you got an instant feel for the main characters. Will, young shadowhunter, was impetuous, brash and generally a bit of a show off with poor Jem left to watch his back and be the voice of reason. Tessa, I liked for the most part. She obviously cares a lot about family and friends and will do almost anything for them. She is smart, courageous and while not strong she tries to fight and stands up for herself. Most importantly she loves books and there are a lot of references and quotes which being a lover of books I liked.
I felt there were a lot of similarities between the characters in this and those in mortal instruments. Will and Tessa in particular are very similar to Jace and Clary although I have to admit to me they seemed poor imitations. There are a few differences, with the main one for me being the lack of humour. Will is angrier and darker and Tessa distrusting and lonely. It was Jem who really drew me in and fascinated me. Mysterious, clearly ill and yet always calm and despite being the same age as the others much more mature and wise.
Overall for me however something fell a little short with this book. After the promising first few chapters I found myself losing concentration and having to re read pages. I think it was probably just a little longer than it needed to be. I also felt like the chemistry was missing from it. There was no spark between Will and Tessa. Finally I found it hard to take the monsters seriously. To me they seemed like something from an episode of Doctor Who, basically supposed to be scary but a bit naff and kind of funny.
I have to admit I’m not sure I’ll be rushing to read the rest of the series.