This book struck my interest because I had just read the first installment to the Mortal Instruments series and it blew me away. So I saw this on GoodReads and saw that it was the prequel story to it and I was instantly drawn to it. The story is way darker written than the TMI series. I think it is the way everyone is described. Tessa is a shapshifter (which is a downworlder, despite the way she acts), the Dark Sisters are eerie and frightening, Will has a dark secret, and Jem has a disease from a Demon. And with all this darkness comes mystery too. Everyone in the story had a mystery about them. Some we picked up on right away, and others it took us awhile. This I really enjoyed. I love a good mystery. As for the characters, I loved them all... Except Will. I did like him, but after awhile Jem started to grow on me... So to all you people on Team Will, I think I'm taking the opposite side in this one. Will just seemed like an arrogant jerk who thought girls were supposed to throw themselves at him. I hate guys like that. It makes them far less attractive. But Jem, yes he is sick, but he is way more understanding than Will. I also liked the setting. I am not a huge fan of historical fiction (well history in general lol), but add a little supernatural to it and I'm game. This book served as my first "steam punk" novel and I really did enjoy it. It was set in Victorian London in 1878. I adored it because Clare kept to it the entire novel. She wrote Tessa and the other characters in the exact right way for people at that time. Another thing I enjoyed was the way characters and certain objects from the TMI series were shown at times throughout the story. It was nice to get back stories and insight as to why the characters act the way they do. (Let me just say here that I LOVE Magnus Bane lol). Lastly, I loved twist at the end of the story. I was in shock when I read the last few chapters. Everything left my mouth hanging open. I was sitting in the doctor's office waiting on my little sister when I read it and kept gasping out loud and getting weird looks from people lol But it was worth it, because it was just that good. Now for the hard part... What I didn't like. I didn't like the fact that so many elements were like the first TMI book. Tessa lost her brother, Clary lost her mother. Tessa worried about not knowing her family, and Jace didn't know his. It felt kind of like the same story except darker and the fact that what they were preparing to fight was not "alive" per se. Also, I felt like at times the story kind of dragged on. I struggled through the beginning, even with the events that happened between Tessa and the Dark Sisters.