Reading Group Guide
A Reading Group Guide to
by Cassandra Clare
About This Book
The year is 1878. When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks, and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the secretive, demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she finds herself torn between. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork demons, the Club is out to annihilate the Shadowhunters and rule the British Empire, and Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world.
· What is the Pandemonium Club? The Shadowhunters think the Club has more power than it actually does. Why do they have that impression? What has been done to manipulate the Club’s image?
· Tessa gradually uncovers information about herself and her powers, but she still knows very little about why she was “created.” Why is it important to her and to the Shadowhunters to find out? How does Tessa’s view of herself change over the course of the story?
· Chapter 3 begins with a Robert Browning quote, “Love, hope, fear, faith—these make humanity; These are its sign and note and character.” Do you agree? What other characteristics do you think are the hallmarks of humanity?
· Tessa, Jessamine, and Charlotte all have very different ideas about the appropriate roles for women. How much of each woman’s attitude do you think comes from the beliefs of the day, and how much from her own experiences?
· Why are books so important to Tessa? What do they add to her life? Do the Shadowhunters have things in their life that serve this same purpose?
· A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is mentioned several times throughout the story, most noticeably when Will and Tessa are about to enter de Quincey’s party. Why do you think the author chose this particular book? What themes are common to both?
· How does Jem deal with his addiction and its effect on his health and his life? Has it changed his personality? Why does he ask the others to stop searching for a cure; why do they agree? Is his reaction to addiction normal?
· Will’s philosophy can be summed up by a quote by Horace, “Pulvis et umbra sumus,” which means “We are dust and shadows.” Why do you think this resonates with him so deeply? Do his actions bear witness to this belief?
· What caused de Quincey to betray the Nephilim? Were the Nephilim surprised by this betrayal? Should they have been?
· Clockwork Angel is set in the middle of the Industrial Revolution. Why are the clockwork people so frightening to Tessa and the Shadowhunters? How does the Magister’s clockwork army affect the power balance in his fight against the Shadowhunters?
· What does Tessa want from her relationship with Will? Why does Will force distance between them?
· Books are very important in Tessa’s life, and she uses literature to help define other people and determine if she can trust them. How do the books you own and love define your character? Create a book collection based on a specific theme or philosophy that is important to you. Annotate the collection, explaining how the books work together to create a complete picture of who you are.
· There is a lot of tension between Downworlders and Shadowhunters in Clockwork Angel. Have students role-play a negotiation to help bring peace between the two groups.
· Cassandra Clare references many classic works of literature in Clockwork Angel. Choose one of these works to read. Write a short essay about the themes in the work, and why you think they resonated with Clare enough for her to include them.
· Will finds his personal credo in a quote by Horace. What quote or saying best sums up your philosophy of life? Assemble a collection of quotes from famous works—both classic and contemporary—to convey to others what this philosophy is.
· Compare an 1878 map of London with a modern map. Locate some of the streets and landmarks that Cassandra Clare describes. How has the layout of the city changed? Which streets and landmarks are still standing? Compare old images of buildings and streets with modern photographs or Google maps.
· Create a clock or other clockwork machine, either from a kit or from plans that you draw up.
· Will and Tessa are fond of quoting poetry. Write a poem of your own that describes the place where you live, the way you are feeling, or something that you have done.
· Clockwork Angel serves as a prequel to Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, and as such, offers some backstory for them. Create a Shadowhunter family tree by charting out which characters in this book might be related to characters in the Mortal Instruments. What traits do they share? What trends can you see developing?
This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.