I finished the audio book of City of Fallen Angels, the 4th book in The Mortal Instruments series, 3 weeks after I posted about it’s release. That’s because I was still finishing up the first book in Cassandra Clare’s new series The Infernal Devices, Clockwork Angel. And I’m really glad I finished them in that order. I was actually working on Clockwork Angel and City of Glass (the 3rd Mortal Instruments book) at the same time. It got a little confusing keeping everything straight at times, but since there are some crossover references I’m glad to say I have now finished all of Ms. Clare’s books. And I love them.
Clockwork Angel takes place in Victorian London, about a decade after the much talked about peace treaties between Shadowhunters and Downworlders in The Mortal Instruments series. This story focuses on Tessa Gray, an orphan girl lured from New York to London to live with her ne’er-do-well brother after the death of her aunt. When she arrives in London, however, she is captured and tortured by the Dark Sisters, who reveal to her that she is a shapeshifter (an “Eidolon”). They answer to The Magister, a mysterious figure who apparently wants to marry her.

After 6 weeks in captivity Tessa plans her daring escape from the Dark Sisters, and just as she is about to break free Will Herondale the Shadowhunter comes to her rescue. And from there Tessa is taken to the London Institute, and the novel really begins. Ancestors of Mortal Instruments characters are revealed, new fantastic creatures are introduced to Cassandra Clare’s Shadowworld universe, and even a pre-“High Warlock of Brooklyn” (and bisexual) Magnus Bane gets involved. All of these events are 145 years before Clare’s first series takes place, and they help shape the history and motivations for many of her modern characters.

I think The Infernal Devices is an incredibly smart idea for continuing Clare’s world. It’s a prequel that explains a lot about the modern stories, and it’s a chance to set her world in the past and see how it holds up. I think it works on both levels, and intertwining the release of the two series keeps all of us fans satisfied and wanting more.

And I think reading Clare’s books in the order of their release is important to the flow of the entire set. Because once I started City of Fallen Angels I was glad I knew the references to Clockwork Angel. And COFA is no slouch, either, delivering on all the anticipation of the 2-year wait for that series to continue. All the angst of Clary and Jace is back with full power, Simon really comes into his own here, and FINALLY Clary’s mother wakes up. I loved that the perspective jumped from Clary and Jace (the focus of the first 3 books) back and forth to Simon and his new life as a vampire. But everyone has more to do and feel here: The Lightwoods are mourning a huge loss, Alec and Magnus are growing stronger as a couple, and a new ally is introduced with Kyle. All of the strong character development is set against a plot where Shadowhunters who supported Valentine are being murdered by a mysterious villain (or ally?). And when the final showdown happened, and the cliffhanger was revealed, I had to catch my breath. It’s insanely good reading.

Also, I highly recommend the audio books if you are a fan of Jennifer Ehle (CA) and Molly Quinn (from Castle) and Ed Westwick (COFA). The readings are my favorite in recent memory, and I love both of them.