NTC: Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel – Cassandra Clare and Hyekyung Baek

I moved this review to the top of my list, because as of this week Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series has outsold the long ranking Hunger Games series to become #1 on the New York Times Children’s Series Bestseller List. Cassandra Clare’s work has been widely popular, and her first movie adaption, City of Bones, will be out in theaters this August.

The Infernal Devices series is a prequel to Clare’s #6 ranking Mortal Instruments series started in 2007.  Clockwork Angel, the first volume of Infernal Devices, was published in 2010. The graphic novel adaptation of Clockwork Angel was published by Yen Press in October 2012.

Will Herondale from the front cover

Will Herondale from the front cover

The Gist: Infernal Devices is set 120 years prior to Mortal Instruments, in Victorian era London, England. Main protagonist Tessa Gray  travels from New York to London to join her brother after the death of their sole guardian. Upon arrival Tessa is duped into following the Black sisters, where they confine her in order to train her for the mysterious Magister. Meanwhile, Shadowhunters from the London Institute have been tracking the nefarious deeds of the Black Sisters and attack their residence. Will Herondale discovers Tessa locked in a bedroom and rescues her from her tortuous arrangement. Once at the Institute, Tessa becomes entangled between Will and his close friend, Jem Carstairs, as they set out to uncover the mysterious deaths of the mundanes, or common folk, and the disappearance of Tessa’s brother.

The Story Adaptation: Scene for scene the graphic novel adaptation by Yen Press keeps pace with the novel. The main events include key dialogue essential to the plot. The comic keeps the scenes flowing from event to event, with hardly any downtime. If all you had to read was the comic, you would still have the gist of the first novel and a good understanding of the characters.

The Artwork: Hyekyung Baek’s visual adaptation brings the story to life with detailed settings, costumes, and characterizations. The paneling is dynamic – it keeps the frames flowing from page to page, emphasizing the important moments. The line art is very detailed and realistic with just enough toning to add patterns and mood to the story. The colored panels that are included in the book help to establish the look of the characters as described in the novel.


Panel shows action and violence. Compare Jem on middle left to Henry on middle right.

Of all the artistic elements, the character designs seemed lacking. Jem Carstairs was the best adaptation – most likely because he is of asian decent, and the drawing style matches that. Will Herondale’s hair seemed wrong to me, as often it is described as wavy or curling when he sweats, and the character was drawn with very straight hair. The most insulting characterization was Henry Branwell – husband to Charlotte, the head of the London Institute. Henry is an eccentric but brilliant inventor, yet in the comic he is drawn looking like a clown with squinty eyes, huge nose, and curly hair. His features are so distorted that they never look realistic enough compared to the rest of the characters. However, I loved the chapter headers that included portraits of the main characters – it was a nice addition to the story.

The Typesetting: The dialogue placement helps to make this comic look authentic. The art in the panels leaves plenty of room for the word bubbles, sound effects, and side commentary. The font used is a comic style font, and the dialogue fits exactly in the space provided.

The Audience: The Infernal Devices – Clockwork Angel graphic novel is perfect for a teen audience or any fans of Cassandra Clare. Although there is some violence, the romantic scenes only go so far as kissing.

The Media: The Infernal Devices trilogy is complete in three novels: Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess all available from Hatchett Book Group. The Yen Press graphic novel adaptation of Clockwork Angel is available now, Clockwork Prince is expected to be released September 2013, and Clockwork Princess in May 2014. Currently the script is in the works for the movie adaptation of the series.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥♥ Highly Recommend

The comic adaptation of Clockwork Angel is an excellent visual representation of the novel. Fans of the series will delight to see the scenes from the novel come to life.

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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