So this is one of those books that I read and it was all smooth sailing until I had to sit down and describe the plot to you. It is a pretty complex or at least difficult to summarize plot. So we’ll let Goodreads do the heavy lifting:
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.
This is one of those books that I feel pretty neutral about. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. The action was fun and the world-building was interesting. I just wasn’t heavily invested in the characters and have a minor personal issue with historical settings.
I had picked this up mainly because I was told it had a love triangle that would make me like love triangles. And I’m sorry whoever told me that, but you were wrong. It seems blatantly clear to me that Tessa would pick Will. She is way more attracted to him than Jem. And I’m not really even rooting for either Will or Jem. Will sounds hot, but is moody. I know I like a Mr. Rochester, but Will is no Mr. Rochester. Jem is just TOO nice and sickly and his “dark secret” makes him a victim. He invokes pity, not passion. So, if you like the classic “he’s so bad and dark, but I’m so drawn to his sexual magnetism” vs. the “he’s so goodhearted and sad and I just want to be his friend” love triangle, you might like this one. It wasn’t very angsty, which was a plus and set it apart from other similar love triangles, but ultimately it wasn’t anything new.
While I wasn’t satisfied character or romance-wise, I did enjoy the supernatural world of this book. It is sort of complicated (at least in my mind), but reminded me some of the angel vs. demon season(s) of Supernatural. I just really like the idea of Shadowhunters and the villain has me pretty interested. How did he get his power? What is he up to? I will probably check out the sequels at some point, so I consider this to have been a decent enough story that I will keep on reading.
If the story sounds up your alley, try this one out. I may not have been dazzled by it, but I am not the biggest fan of love triangles or historical settings, so I may not be the perfect audience for this book!