In her first series, The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare combined the comfortably familiar settings of Brooklyn and Manhattan with the underground universe of demons, Shadowhunters, vampires, fairies and warlocks. But for the prequel trilogy, The Infernal Devices, she must have felt that was too easy. The first two books, Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince (which came out last week), take place in Victorian London. Orphaned American shapeshifter Tessa Gray and the demon-killing Shadowhunters that take her in are all at the mercy of a rapidly changing world, where scientific advances can be amazing and deadly, and where propriety and gender roles are talked about much more than they’re actually followed.
“The Victorians were much less hung up and repressed than we think of them as,” Clare told TheFABlife of what she discovered while researching the book. “I had always thought of them with these apocryphal stories that they couldn’t say ‘arm’ or ‘leg’ in public and that they covered their piano legs because they were supposed to be naughty. This was all total crap apparently. None of that stuff ever happened. The books of the time period that were really popular are shocking. They were full of sex and violence and betrayal and adultery and sin.”
In Clockwork Prince, Tessa is not only trying to help find and stop the man who seeks to take over the city with an army of clockwork soldiers, she’s also trying to find out the workings of her own heart, torn between tempestuous, deep-dark-secret-holding Will and gentle, probably-dying Jem. And by “trying to find out,” we mean “making out” in some pretty hot and heavy scenes.