1 Jun 2014

Book Review / 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.

Published:     9th December 2003
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series:  Book 1, Gemma Doyle Trilogy
Source:  Bought

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MY REVIEW       (5 out of 5)

What I loved about this story...

Now this is one of those books that I have had on my shelf for absolutely ages.  I actually bought this just after I first started blogging, which was in 2010 and I can't believe I have waited this long to read it.  This book was amazing.

Firstly, let's talk about the historical element to this story.  This story is set in an era where the women were second class in the community, the man came first.  It was an era where the women went to boarding school to become ladies, make the most of themselves so that they are the best catch for marriage.  Spence school is one of those places.  The ladies at Spence are expected exactly to be that, ladies.  They are meant to be proper and reserved.  That is until Gemma Doyle comes in.  There is something about her that is different.

Next, let's talk about the plot.  This first book in the series has such a great suspense build up I could not put this book down and if I had to for some reason I immediately returned to it as soon as possible.  There's something different at Spence Academy and there is something different about Gemma Doyle, figuring out what was going on is only half the story!

What am amazing read, I can't wait to get on with the rest of the trilogy.     

What I was not fond of with this story...

I loved every part of this first book in the trilogy, can't wait to read on!

(From Goodreads)

What is it about writing an author bio that gives me that deer-in-headlights feeling? It's not exactly like I'm going to say "I was born in Alabama…" and somebody's going to jump up and snarl, "Oh yeah? Prove it!" At least I hope not.

I think what gets me feeling itchy is all that emphasis on the facts of a life, while all the juicy, relevant, human oddity stuff gets left on the cutting room floor. I could tell you the facts–I lived in Texas for most of my life; I live in New York City with my husband and six-year-old son now; I have freckles and a lopsided smile; I'm allergic to penicillin.

But that doesn't really give you much insight into me. That doesn't tell you that I stuck a bead up my nose while watching TV when I was four and thought I'd have to go to the ER and have it cut out. Or that I once sang a punk version of "Que Sera Sera" onstage in New York City. Or that I made everyone call me "Bert" in ninth grade for no reason that I can think of. See what I mean?

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