The first book in a prequel series to the best-selling series The Mortal Instrument. This series is set in London during the 1800s. It follows Tessa Gray who has been rescued by the local Shadowhunters and brought to stay at the Institute. A new threat has arisen in London being led by the mysterious Magister. Everyone and everything is endangered as the Magister develops his clockwork army in order to conquer England.
Tessa is invited to London by her brother but she is kidnapped by The Dark Sister and forced to face the unknown truth of who she is. Somehow The Dark Sister know that she is, a shape-shifter which Tessa had never known. Tessa is rescued by the Shadowhunters several weeks later It is revealed that she is some form of a rare shape-shifting warlock who can take on the personality and memories of the people she copies.
Tessa has her views about what a woman should and should not do, as most everyone did during the 1800s. However, as the story continues she learns that the Shadow World isn't that black and white. Tessa fights against the villains several times even though she stated that women do not get bloodthirsty or violent feelings. Tessa is a strong young woman who struggles with the revelation that she may not be human at all. Her desire to find her missing brother fuels Tessa during the story and as things become more and more complex she realises this may not be as easy as she’d hoped.
There is a love triangle between Tessa and two young Shadowhunters; Will and Jem. At first, it leans more towards Will but as his true colours begin to show Tessa learns he may not be the man she thought he was. However, Jem is consistently kind and caring towards Tessa. I hope that in the next book Jem and Tessa’s relationship will continue to develop.
Jem is terminally sick and it's revealed that this is due to an addiction to a demon drug that he was tortured into taking. Jem’s family was murdered and the demon that did so got Jem addicted to this drug which is slowly killing him. This is an interesting storyline which I hope we will learn more about.
Period stories are not ones I enjoy. I get frustrated by the strict views on gender roles and find the formality very serious and cold. Even with friends and family people still have to be very formal, polite and serious which I find cold and infuriating. However, I eventually overcame this as I got more and more absorbed into the story.
I enjoyed this book more and more as it went on as it becomes filled with complex twist and turns. I enjoyed The Mortal Instruments series much more but found Tessa’s mysterious powers interesting and loved that the main character was a Downwolder, someone who is neither human nor Shadowhunter. I’m really looking forward to reading the next book.