by Cassandra Clare
Published August 31st 2010
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
I think I have found my favorite series for 2012. My love for this novel crept up on me slowly, not while reading, but a few days later. First let me say that when I started reading this novel I did not read the cover or reviews, it was on a list and my library had it so I pulled it off the shelf and went to the first page. I had no idea what to expect. Shadowhunters, demons, warlocks, London 1878, and magic all within the first few chapters. I was taken back, and not entirely sure if I followed correctly, but my interest was so high that I couldn't fall asleep until I finished it. So I did, in one night.
Then I didn't really know if I loved the story or not, I liked a lot of it,the characters were great, the setting right, plot twists were okay... but I just didn't know. Two days later I found myself renewing the book, and burrowing the second in the series, because I couldn't let the book leave my house. I began going back to revisit certain scenes, rereading whole portions, and finally just rereading the entire book. That's when I knew I loved the book, when the characters stayed with me days after and I had to go back to them... had to.
Tessa, the heroine, might be my favorite of all time. She's feminine in a societal approved way (remember it's 1878), but she's undoubtedly brave and strong. Also, she's witty and curious, and absolutely lovable. The mixture of strength and womanly charm is what drew me in, there was a perfect balance to the two.
Of course there is a love interest: Will. He's cocky, arrogant, strong, and gorgeous. I loved his character too. He was a jerk, most of the time, but Clare created just the right amount of compassion and softness around him to exhibit another layer. Then there's Jem (James), Will's best friend and his opposite in every way possible. He's calm, collected, and caring. There's something wonderful about his calm demeanor and gentle honesty. The relationship between Jem and Will is fantastic, they balance and genuinely care for one another. Jem is Will's saving grace, proof that he is capable of more than he lets people see. In this book, there isn't an obvious love triangle, but hints of one in the future. For the first time, I don't have a favorite.
The story line is alright, but its the characters that really make this book. I think they could have been doing anything and I'd want to know, not just the three I mentioned, but the rest found in the story: Charlotte, Henry, Jessamine, and the whole lot of them. Because I'm so drawn to them, I'm drawn into the story and can't wait to see what happens.