This is the first book of Cassandra Clare's that I have read and after hearing some wonderful things about this book my expectations were pretty high and I was truly looking forward to getting into it. To say that I was blown away by this novel would be an understatement and despite my original refusal not to fan girl over books I have found myself guilty of doing just that.
This book is centred around New Yorker Tessa Grey in a Victorian London on a search for her brother Nathaniel. Upon her arrival in London from the states, it is not Nate that is there to greet her with open arms, but the dark sisters - a deadly duo who claim to be doing her brother a favour in returning her but instead keep her captive until shadow hunter William Herondale rescues her. She is then thrown into a world that is not quite like the one she once knew where she finds out things about herself that she never dared even dream about.
I found myself instantly hooked on this book from the first page through to the very last and although a fantasy I almost felt as though the book was real life and that I, myself, was part of the book. The descriptive writing was wonderful, and I could instantly picture every place that Clare guided me through without any problem - the atmospheres and differences between the down worlders haunts and the institute being the main source.
With it being set in Victorian England I found the speech of characters to be a little bit too modern for the era but this was counteracted with the steampunk futuristic spin the Cassandra Clare put on the book as a whole. The dialogue between characters was to die for, the witty sarcastic retorts of Will in response to everybody and anybody no matter what their relationship was a pleasure to read, and I found myself almost looking forward to the next encounter between himself and his next victim. The way Tessa could almost counteract, if not put Will in his place with her take on witty remarks was also funny to read as his reactions to her were priceless with him being the kind of person he is.
The characters were enchanting and ever so addictive and were by far the heart of this book as they should be in any book in my opinion. James Carstairs, better known as Jem, is Will's companion in the shadow hunter world. He is sweet, charming, caring and has a tendency to know what to say and when to say it in certain situations - he puts people at ease and is the lighter of the two. Will, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. He is witty, sarcastic and always has a retort to things said - he always seems to find amusement out of any serious situation. Will and Jem, although they are two different entities as people, have a very strong relationship. Both of them care for the other deeply and this is seen most in Will due to his usual brash behaviour seemingly calming down upon serious matters with Jem which is quite soothing to see that he does have a soft gentle side after all.
Tessa is the main protagonist, and I found her to be quite boring. She is very relatable in the way that she is bland and could be any girl - I like to call it the 'Bella' syndrome. A character is that poorly described that, as long as the male lead is endearing I find, that everyone wishes to be her as they are almost jealous and can see themselves as her in a sense (I have probably poorly described this, which I apologise for). Contrary to that, she is witty and intelligent but sometimes throughout the book I found her to be too trustworthy and quite naive which I didn't think made her seem quite realistic.
This books definitely has the shock factor when it comes to twists and turns, throughout the book I was thinking of possible outcomes for different situations and some of the things that Clare came up with I did not even think of. I don't know whether it's me or her amazing inventiveness (I like to think it's the latter) but I found myself always wondering what was going to happen next. In line with that, the pacing of the book I found to be brilliant - a mixture of slow and fast at the correct moments, and I found this to be almost perfect for this book.
I am thoroughly looking forward to reading the rest of this series and I will definitely, regretably, be fan girling this book and probably this series in the near future - a very big five stars from me.