Quick Take: In Victorian London, Tessa Gray is not as human as she thought and is valued for her ability to change into another person (living or dead). In fleeing from the Magister, she is taken in by the Shadowhunters, who maintain the peace between the Downworld species.
Why I Picked It: I believe I found it while searching for a steampunk series after reading the Parasol Protectorate series can be classified as steampunk.
My Thoughts: I’m intrigued by this world of Shadowhunters, and Downworlders (vampires, werewolves, warlocks and fairies). If only I could say the same for Tessa. For most of the book I found her to be a boring protagonist. Her primary motivation is her love for her brother Nate and her need to find out what happened to him, but I never really believed her. The author told us how much Tessa loved Nate, and it was clear finding him was the driving factor in most of her decisions, but I just didn’t believe it. Tessa learns she has a magical power–the ability to change into other people (both dead and alive) and access their thoughts. That’s much more interesting that a missing brother you haven’t seen for years.
For me, the most interesting characters were Will and Jem, teenage Shadowhunters living at the Institute in central London. The Shadowhunters are sort of warrior angels; their job is to keep the peace among the Downworlders and protect the mundanes (humans). Both have intriguing backstories and are far more compelling characters than Miss Gray.
The third-person narration does shift occasionally from Tessa’s perspective to Will’s, though not enough for my taste. Perhaps Tessa will become a stronger, more interesting heroine in the future books, but I won’t be rushing out to read them. This is an interesting world, and a decent plot, but the boring Tessa drops it from a B or even a B+.