This is the final instalment in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy, a set which, in turn, acts as a prequel to her Mortal Instruments series. Taken as a whole these books are a massive phenomenon and have gained a massive loyal following. No surprises then to see them translated to other media, the movie of City of Bones, book one of The Mortal Instruments, hit the screens last year, and this rather gorgeous edition adapts the original text into a Manga Graphic Novel.
Trying to explain the plot is going to be a bit tortuous, given that this is the final instalment in an already massive trilogy and, to be fair, the most likely audience for this are the already rabid enthusiasts who know every page inside out anyway. So, trying to be brief, the story is set in Victorian London and Clare’s mythology is quite complex for the uninitiated. Normal humans are Mundanes, who live their lives blissfully unaware of all the supernatural chaos that is going all around them. Protecting the world is a team of half-human/half-angel Nephilim, the Shadowhunters, who are sworn to hunt down and destroy demons. There are also vampires, werewolves, warlocks and plenty more of everyone’s favourite monsters. Some characters are near immortals so readers familiar with The Mortal Instruments will recognise some faces, such as the ambiguously motivated Warlock, Magnus Bane, even though that sequence of stories are set in New York a century and a half later.
This is the final episode so there’s already a lot of plot in full swing. Arch-villain Mortmain is building a monstrous clockwork army. Demons are cropping up all over the place and the London Institute of Shadowhunters led by Charlotte Branwell is struggling to keep on top of it all. Our heroine, Tessa is preparing to marry her dying love, Jem, whose life is being prolonged by the rare Yin Fen medicine. To complicate matters Will is also madly in love with Tessa and torn apart by the strength of his feelings and his need to help her and Jem. When the supplies of Yin Fen dry up it becomes apparent that Mortmain has seized every last drop to force Tessa into a trap because he needs to exploit her latent powers in order to wake his army and exact his terrible revenge.
It’s a rollercoaster of a story and certainly a very satisfying finale to the sequence. Cassandra Clare provides her own text for this adaptation and the artwork is by Hyekyung Baek. Manga might not seem to be the obvious choice for a story set in Victorian London but actually it’s a perfect fit. The stylised figures look great against the elaborate Victorian settings and meticulously fussy fashions, and something visually striking leaps off every single page. There are a handful of colour pages and the rest is in monochrome but either way the artwork is absolutely beautiful. The story translates well although there are a few short sections that might be a little confusing for those not familiar with the source novels. This is more than made up for by the vivid sequences of action and the sensitive portrayal of these well-loved and complex characters.
If you’re already a fan then this is going to make a lovely addition to complement your collection. If you’re not familiar with Clare’s work yet but like the sound of it, or you enjoy a good graphic novel, then you could do a lot worse than starting with this set. All three parts, Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince and this third instalment are all available now, and come highly recommended for existing fans and newbies alike.