After the last book, Clockwork Angel, Mortmain is still at large. He may be only human, but with considerable supernatural contacts Mortmain aims to capture Tessa and destroy the Shadowhunters - and who knows what else - with his army of clockwork automatoms. He is a threat to the Clave and all it stands for.
But things are not so simple - politics in the Clave threaten Charlotte’s position in the institute. Capturing Mortmain becomes not only a matter to protect themselves, but also to hold onto the London Institue. The quest for Mortmain takes them across the country, all the while wary of his agents and subtle, long term schemes. And, more, Mortmain’s subtle conspiracy continues, with his friends and allies in the most unlikely places.
As if the threat to life as they know it wasn’t enough, Tessa is still ignorant of exactly what she is and what it means, as well as her brother’s betrayal and, of course, her conflicted and powerful feelings about Jem and Will. Made all the more fraught by the grave revelations of Will’s past.
This book felt padded. I’m not saying that’s intention, it could be the author’s writing style (I suspect so given the other books I’ve read). There is an awful lot of excess words here that you have to dredge through, There are specific issues but the basic is that 1 word isn’t used if 10 could possibly fit. It’s long winded, when things are described, they’re described in excessive detail and we have a lot of descriptions that are, frankly, unnecessary. Someone can walk across a room without us knowing how they do it, their surroundings, their gait or anything else. We can have a conversation without internal monologue, a blow-by-blow description of facial expressions or random irrelevant things the speakers are doing at the same time. If a character has been described it’s unnecessary to repeatedly re-describe them in later scenes.
And speaking of long winded - literary quotes. Maybe there are people who enjoy having the characters constantly refer to and quote classic literature and poetry, but to me it got very old - and very pretentious - very fast. In fact, not to be cruel, it felt like the author trying to impress us.