Thursday 24 February 2022

The Infernal Devices #3 - Clockwork Princess


The third and final instalment of the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare:

Danger and betrayal… Secrets and enchantment… Third and final book in the bestselling prequel series to The Mortal Instruments, set in Victorian London. A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain needs one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. But Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa’s heart, will do anything to save her. 

I like to include quotes in my reviews, but when I went to look at my Audible notes, there's about thirty of them, which means there were a lot of snippets I liked and a lot of language I leaned into. That's a lot to go back through.

Let's do random selection:

#46: Kwan Yin is the goddess depicted on the front. It is said that when she died and reached the gates of paradise, she paused and heard the cries of anguish from the human world below and could not leave it. She remained to give aid to mortals, when they cannot aid themselves. She is the comfort of all suffering hearts.

#23: Out of dreams of blood and metal monsters, Tessa woke with a start and a gasp.

#38: "...You say the things I think but never say out loud. You read the books I read. You love the poetry I love. You make me laugh with your ridiculous songs and the way you see the truth of everything. I feel like you can look inside me and see all the places I am odd or unusual and fit your heart around them, for you are odd and unusual in just the same way." With the hand that was not holding his, she touched his cheek, lightly. "We are the same.”

#6: Cecily let go of the dagger's handle and rolled sideways, off the body of the worm. Its jaws missed her by a hairsbreadth and snapped viciously shut on its own body. Black ichor gushed and the worm jerked its head back, a howl like the wail of a banshee erupting from its throat. A massive wound gaped in its side, and gobbets of its own flesh hung from its jaws. As Will stared, Gabriel raised his bow and let an arrow fly. It sang home to its target and buried itself in one of the worm's lidless black eyes. The creature reared back--and then its head sagged forward and it crumpled in on itself, folding up, disappearing as demons did when the life left them. 

There's a lot to like about this trilogy. As mentioned in the first, Clockwork Angel, each chapter begins with a line of carefully selected poetry, and it's really nicely curated. Some really excellent choices in there, and no duff ones. I also felt the epilogue was particularly well written, especially the descriptive in the first half. Poetically done. 

This one also picked up the action a little more, but of the three, I still think the first book was the best. The balance of romance and action was just right there. For the second and third, it's a lot of the same romantic repetition. I didn't really feel the characters evolved much once Will found out that important thing about himself, and Jem only appears to exist in order to die. Tessa wasn't my favourite character by the end. For someone who is half-angel, half-demon, she's all goody two-shoes. If you are a conduit for the forces of heaven and hell combined, you might expect a little more internal struggle to control that, or some kick-ass superpowers. It is apparent that she has the latter, as a shapeshifter, but she doesn't seem to make much of it. A little less time protesting her love too much, and a little more time purging the automated armies of hell, would have been my personal preference, but this is a teen romance.

I did enjoy it. I must have, because I can't remember the last time I read a trilogy. I've read two of the four Shadow of the Wind tetralogy, but maybe not a full trilogy since Howl's Moving Castle back in 2012.

Switching narrators was certainly an interesting choice. Clockwork Angel was entirely read by Jennifer Ehle, Clockwork Prince was narrated by Ed Westwick and Heather Lind, and this one was narrated solely by Daniel Sharman. I assume it's to do with balance, maybe a little shapeshifting from female to male. I kind of see it, but I'm not sure it entirely worked for me in the middle. It's not first person, so the switch over didn't seem to follow much of a pattern and it broke the stride a little. But both the first and third flowed nicely. 

From midway through the first book I was kind of hoping it would push mainstream boundaries and extol the virtues of polyamory. After all, Will loves Tess, Jem loves Tess, Jem and Will love each other, and Tess loves both of them - it makes sense doesn't it? But that would have made for a very short story. Way to remove the conflict. Still, there was sort of a nod to the idea at the end. 

Anyway, an enjoyable read.

Monday 21 February 2022


My friend Jo introduced me to OwlKitty with the Titanic episode, and I've been binge watching for two days straight. There's also a really sweet adoption video about how OwlKitty (AKA Lizzy) came to be.

Saturday 19 February 2022

The Girl of Ink and Stars


Picked this up because I liked the cover and the title:

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her cartographer father once mapped. When her best friend disappears, she's determined to be part of the search party.

Guided by an ancient map and her knowledge of the stars, Isabella navigates the island's dangerous Forgotten Territories. But beneath the dry rivers and dead forests, a fiery myth is stirring from its sleep.

It won both the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and British Book Awards' Children's Book of the Year in 2017. 

It's an adventure story set on the fictional island of Joya, though reference to real-life places such as Africa, America and India (spelled Afrik, Amrica and India) give the sense that it is rooted in our world. Like the best fiction, it didn't happen - but it might have done.

According to the blog, Like Telling the Truth:

The mapping coordinates of the fictional Isle of Joya are given on the opening page of the book, so of course I went to Find Latitude and Longitude and looked them up! Hargrave has based her tale on La Gomera in the Canary Islands, Spain. This is the very port from which Christopher Columbus set sail on 6th September 1492, intending to sail to the Indies under the patronage of Queen Isabella. 

The lead protagonist is indeed called Isabella. She is a mapmaker's daughter, and who doesn't like a story about mysterious maps?

There was only one map that showed the whole of our island, and it hung in Da's study... It had always felt like a sign that Ma and Da were meant for each other, that he was a cartographer and her only heirloom was a map.


Each of us carries the map of our lives on our skin, in the way we walk, even in the way we grow.

Full of dark places and mystical fears:

My body eased through the slight tug of the current. I had forgotten the sensation of weightlessness... Swimming in the sea was different though, the water was black beneath me, and after a while I scared myself imagining what was below and had to get out.

It was an easy read. Reminded me a bit in style of Naomi Novic, and in subject of the Netflix series Shadow and Bone, which also centres around a mapmaker stuck in a land you're not allowed to leave. Shadow and Bone was adapted from books by Leigh Bardugo, but I haven't read those yet, hence the Netflix reference - sorry. But similar themes and a plucky female protagonist who has to fight to be allowed to go on an adventure.

I'd probably suggest the tree format over the audiobook. The audiobook is very well narrated, but one of the main characters is a bit annoying and has a voice to match. Some awful things happen to her, but, because of her voice, I felt more relieved than sympathetic. Reading it for yourself, you might find that she's more relatable. 

Saturday 12 February 2022

Monday 7 February 2022

Spirit Badgers

Heading home to Rwanda tomorrow after a truly wonderful holiday in the UK. Last little bit of news before I go - a little art exchange with the wonderful Maria Strutz

Sunday 6 February 2022

80s TV Nostalgia

Wow, what a blast from the past! This was my entire childhood! Although, not to nit-pick, but I think TMNT were early 90s?

Anyway, my favourites in order:

  1. Duckula was the greatest TV show ever!
  2. Trapdoor had such a cool intro.
  3. Dogtanian (I used to have the wallpaper!)
  4. Dungeons & Dragons
  5. Thundercats (slightly obsessed with Chetara) 
  6. Fraggle Rock (*clap clap*)

Fingermouse and Bagpuss are missing, but they didn't have very catchy intros. The one that did was Whizbit ('haha this a way, haha that a way'). Rainbow was also going strong throughout the whole of the 80s. But I think they're only focusing on cartoons, in which case it's pretty exhaustive. 

And kudos for the Poddington Peas reminder, I'd totally forgotten that catchy theme song.

Friday 4 February 2022

American Dialect Quiz

Hi guys. I've really been playing around with YouTube a lot more lately and writing fewer blog posts. Now suffering anxiety over whether people are put off by seeing authors in person or not. My books are all mysterious and poetic - and I'm a totally open book. I feel like I fall a little short of my author persona. But, on the other hand, I really do enjoy making videos... soooo.... 

Anyway, I went and did a video of the New York Times British-Irish Dialect Quiz. It was only after I finished, that I realised I had already done a version of this here on the blog back in 2019. And the strange thing is that the results were more accurate back then!

Weird. But then I decided to follow it up by taking the American Dialect Quiz to see where the closest match to my British accent is in the US. Place y'alls bets...

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Tales Fae the Shed


If you like slightly strange folktales in a thick Scottish accent (a niche market, full of the best people), then check out Alan McClure's Tales Fae the Shed channel.