Book Reviews

Everybody Loves a Love Triangle: Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince

Everybody Loves A Love Triangle

Clockwork Prince: Cassandra Clare

Review by Jacquelyn Phillips


“Will would know, she thought, but Jem, like her, she sensed, must have been following an instinct that ran as deep as her bones.  His fingers slipped into the nonexistent space between them, finding the buttons that held her nightdress closed; he bent to kiss her bared shoulder as the fabric slid aside.”


Will Herondale, Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess, The Infernal Devices

Will Herondale

Tessa Gray, Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess, The Infernal Devices

Tessa Gray

James Carstairs, Jem, Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess, The Infernal Devices

James (Jem) Carstairs

There is something about a love story that draws the attention of readers all around the world. Whether it is a story about betrayal and love, seduction and love, friendship and love, or just plain love, readers emotionally invest themselves into relationships developed within the pages of a book, or eBook.  In the second book of The Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Prince, Cassandra Clare keeps her readers interested and involved using this “love” tactic.

In the same way in which Stephanie Meyer played Jacob against Edward, Clare plays William and Jem (her two male protagonists) against one another, fighting for Tessa’s (the female protagonist) love.  However, very unlike Twilight, where both Edward and Jacob knew about one another, Clare heightens the tension successfully by keeping Jem’s and William’s love for Tessa a secret from one another. Add to the equation that the two are best friends and parabatai, forever bound together, and that equals one heck of a dramatic triangle!

Throughout the book, I find myself wanting to throw Tessa out of the forth story window of The Institute, where Shadowhunters live and gather for meetings.  I will be quite blunt—despite Will Herondale’s dashing good looks, his heart-wrenching backstory, his steamy kisses and all around sex-appeal, I am 100% Team Jem (#TeamJem).  He’s the underdog. Poisoned by a demon as a child, and forever reliant on demon drugs in order to survive—he will die, but the drugs slow down the process— Jem never lets his “handicap” interfere with his loyalty to the Shadowhunters and now, his love for Tessa. He’s not pretty-boy handsome like Will. Although toned, he’s skinny, has silver hair and silver eyes, extremely pale skin, and soft facial features. Jem is also the reliable friend who would give up his love for Tessa in a heartbeat if Will asked him to, and the perfect gentleman always striving to impress Tessa in ways foreign to her.  Chivalry isn’t dead, even in the Shadowhunting world!  Although he doesn’t have much longer to live, being with him would be the best decision Tessa ever made.

Clare creates this stereotypical love story, complete with your stereotypical triangle, using methods that are completely unique.  Yes, the two gentlemen suitors are Shadowhunters.  Yes, we don’t know what sort of magical creature Tessa is just yet. And yes, there are magical elements that are foreign to the real world, but those aren’t the only reasons why this strays away from the stereotypical love story.  The difference is that Clare creates these two boys, both with tragic back-stories, both with big hearts, both with an intense love for Tessa, and both considered GOOD GUYS.  This is not typical of the love triangle.  One boy must be good and one must be bad, making the girl stuck in the middle seem like an idiot for choosing the bad boy and a prude for choosing the good boy.  Here, Clare tears her reader’s hearts apart because BOTH Will and Jem have qualities that ANY woman would want—great bodies and good looks included.

The best part about Clare’s writing is her ability to make the characters come to life. I feel as if I’m sitting in The Institute’s library, a newcomer to the Shadowhunter world, watching as three of my best friends, unknowingly, break one another’s hearts. However, Clare’s characterization of Tessa may drive me to an insane asylum by the time I’m done with The Infernal Devices trilogy.  She leads on both boys while complaining about her indecisiveness—she loves both boys in different ways, kisses both boys in different ways, reacts to both boys in different ways, and looks at both boys in different ways.  However, nothing compares to the frustration I experienced when she agrees to Jem’s proposal, while still pining for Will’s affection. At that point, the best, and obvious, choice for true love is Jem—the reliable, always kind, hard to hate character. Clare describes the difference between the two boys perfectly: “Will has always been the brighter burning star, the one to catch attention—but Jem is a steady flame, unwavering and honest.”

While this novel was not only about love, this was the most prominent trope throughout the pages.  We also discover that Jessamine, one of the lady Shadowhunters, has betrayed The Institute, delivering information to The Magister (the villain) through her husband, and Tessa’s cousin (although initially believed to be her brother—huge plot twist), Nathanial Gray.  Clare also begins to unravel the story behind Will’s bad attitude and outward hate for others, why he keeps his emotions inside and pushes everyone else away, through his backstory—he’s not actually cursed and can freely love those around him.  However, his realization comes too late.  Then readers are pulled in to the book because of the obvious male vs. female tension prominent in the leadership role of Charlotte Branwell, the female leader of The Institute.  Overall, Clockwork Prince was filled with surprises—especially the final page where Will Herondale’s long lost sister, Cecily, arrives at the front door of The Institute.

If you love books filled with drama and tension, action and war, deception and betrayal, friendship and love, then Clockwork Prince is the book for you. Cassandra Clare leaves her readers wanting more, and I’m simply dying to know how this love story ends. Although the first two books are available in both paperback and hardback, the third book is currently only available in hardback.

Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince

Book two of The Infernal Devices

Buy the Second Book Here!


Author Bio:

Cassandra Clare, Author, Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, Clockwork Prince Born in Teheran, Iran, Cassandra Clare travelled to multiple countries and beautiful landscapes with her parents including France, England, Switzerland and the Himalayas.  She spent her high school years in Los Angeles where she wrote her first novel, The Beautiful Cassandra, which she used to entertain her friends.  After college, Cassandra lived in Los Angeles and New York.  There, she worked for many entertainment magazines and tabloids.  She began her first YA novel, City of Bones, in 2004, which was originally inspired by the uniqueness and chaos of Manhattan’s landscape.  She began writing fantasy fiction full-time in 2006.  Her series, The Mortal Instruments has become very popular; so popular, in fact, that movies have been made (or are planning to be made) based on the books.  The prequel to The Mortal Instruments is a trilogy titled The Infernal Devices and the companion series titled The Dark Artifices is scheduled to be released in 2015.


One thought on “Everybody Loves a Love Triangle: Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince

  1. Pingback: The Infernal Devices Will Never Stop Coming | The Wardrobe

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