Friday, January 11, 2013

A Great And Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.
A Great & Terrible Beauty is an older book, but it is one that will forever stay on my all-time favorite shelf.  On my first time doing the Top Ten Tuesday Meme back in November, I mentioned that this was one of the books I was of the books that I was thankful for. The cover is what first caught my eye when I was browsing in the bookstore. It is gorgeous! It’s prefect for the younger group of young adults. Though I am still able to enjoy this book years after I first read it.

 Gemma Doyle is in India with her parents, when suddenly her mother dies. Still grieving over the loss of her mother, her father decides to move them to London. There Gemma is sent to a finishing school, Spence Academy. She has a hard time fitting in with the other girls at Spence and finds life there not very appealing. Her father has taken her mother’s death extremely hard, and finds it hard to cope with daily life without the help of laudanum. Her older brother’s attempt to help falls a little short because he just seems to be interested in ‘appearances’ and behaving how society dictates.
Things start to change for her however when discovers the diary of a former student of Spence. It is then that Gemma and her friends try to unravel the mystery of The Realm.

A Great & Terrible Beauty is an entertaining read filled with magic, spells, the occasional school-girl drama, and a mysterious hot guy. All within a Victorian/Gothic setting. If the supernatural mixed with a good dose of historical fiction is what you have been looking for then I would recommend this book easily.

Rating: 4½ out of 5.


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1 comment:

  1. This books is on my TRB pile challenge. I've been waiting to read it for so long, but I just never could bring myself to do it. Thanks for giving me the push I need with this review!