Wednesday, April 23, 2008

'A Great and Terrible Beauty'

by Libba Bray

Fiction/Fantasy/YA, 2003
Delacorte Press, trade pb, 410 p.
1st book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy
Libba Bray's blog
Gemma Doyle isn’t like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoken to, who remember their station, and who will lie back and think of England when it’s required of them.
No, sixteen-year-old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to the Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds a chilly reception. But she’s not completely alone … she’s been followed by a mysterious young man, who warns her to close her mind against the visions.
For it’s at Spence that Gemma’s power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school’s most powerful girls and discovers her mother’s connection to a shadowy group called the Order. It’s here that her destiny waits … if only she can believe in it.
It didn’t suck me in quite as much as some other children’s/YA fantasy has done like Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, or Twilight but I was in the mood for something fun and fantastical after finishing Black Rain and this certainly fit the bill. And what is it about British boarding schools and corsets and lace that always appeals? So even though I wasn’t entirely convinced by the story, it kept me turning the pages and I’m curious enough to read on in the trilogy. And Heather’s recent post makes me doubly curious to find out for myself how it all turns out. Thanks again Les for passing this one on to me.

My Rating: 3.5/5
(#15 for 2008, Once Upon a Time II Challenge #2)

Also reviewed at:
A High and Hidden Place (review of the complete trilogy)


  1. I think I might read this next. My huge pile of review books be damned!

  2. "And what is it about British boarding schools and corsets and lace that always appeals?"

    lol, I know what you mean. This sounds like a fun read :)

  3. I find that the classy atmosphere of things that normal people usually want to have or at least touch attarct the readers. Besides corsets are always fashionable.

    Speaking about the story I would have to say that the paranormal as in visions, omens, the subtle more macabre notions mixed with good mystery always attract, if not hook.

    Nobody can beat Harry potter, since the world created is immense and it captivates, although I think Rowling could have written them better.

  4. Andi- It is a pretty quick read! :)

    Nymeth- haha! Glad I'm not the only one!

    daydream- I agree that there's a reason we're always attracted to certain things or themes or settings. Probably says quite a bit about us.

  5. This does sound fun. Sometimes it's just what a person needs!

  6. Literary Feline- Very true. It was quite fun and certainly fit my mood at the time.

  7. I'm so glad you enjoyed this better than me! I'll be interested to see how you like the others in the series. I'll be skipping those. ;)

  8. Les- I'm not rushing out to buy the next 2 in the trilogy but wouldn't mind reading them at some point just to see how it all turns out. Thanks again for sending it on. :)


Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I love hearing from you and I read every single one!

P.S. In an effort to eliminate spam, I moderate all comments, so there will most likely be a delay between when you submit the comment and when it appears on the post. Please let me know if you have any trouble leaving comments here, and you can also chat with me on Twitter, if you prefer. Happy Reading!