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A Great and Terrible Beauty ~ Libba Bray

June 6, 2011



Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
432 pages
ISBN: 9780385732314
Source: Bookstore

16 year old Gemma Doyle doesn’t think it too large a birthday request to ask for passage to London. After all, her whole life has been spent in sweltering hot India with only her family and servants to occupy her time. She is sure that the letters and stories she receives from her grandmother, in the heart of the London social scene are far more exciting than anything she has yet experienced. Her mother is firm in her refusal, however, and swiftly puts an end to such talk.

When tragedy strikes, suddenly, Gemma gets her wish, though not at all the way she imagined. Thrust into the catty world of Spence’s finishing school, Gemma is alone on a new and strange sea, surrounded by forces she has no navigational feel for.

Stranger, though are the visions that have been creeping in to Gemma’s nightmares and daydreams. As the year progresses, Gemma finds herself in league with Spence’s elite set but this elite set soon finds itself locked in to the great and terrible thing that has been plaguing Gemma’s thoughts.

A story rich with mythology, of both east and west, A Great and Terrible Beauty is a wonderful trip into the imaginary. One of the most compelling aspects of the story lies in the exploration of fear in perceived strength and unexpected bravery when the human soul wants to cower and hide. Gemma and her confidants dare to break the mold as far as social constraints fall, choosing adventure over corsets.

The absence of head over heels romance in fair trade for myriad travels through the unknown is a welcome relief for me as far as this genre is concerned. I can handle a little bit of love but it is rarely, personally, palatable if overdone.

I’m well over halway through Bray’s second installment in the trilogy and I have to say that I’m just smitten. It’s definitely one of those that I want to finish in one gulp but know that I shouldn’t as I’ll be devastated when it’s all over.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2011 11:21 am

    I have had this book, and the second in the series on my shelf for the longest time. I can’t remember now why I put them aside and didn’t read them, but your review makes me think that I need to go back to them and give them a try. I am glad that you are enjoying these, and I now look forward to reading them as well!

  2. June 6, 2011 3:47 pm

    Sounds very intriguing!!!

  3. June 6, 2011 7:25 pm

    I’ve seen this book around the blogisphere but I had no idea what was about. It sounds great! I’m going to see if my library has an audio book of this. Great review.

  4. June 6, 2011 9:03 pm

    I’m jotting the name of this trilogy down. Any book that leaves someone smitten is worth exploring.

  5. June 7, 2011 11:48 am

    This series is absolutely one of my favorites. The world building in this series is unbeatable and I just loooove Kartik! You’re right about being devastated when it ends, by the way. Definitely going to be a void to fill 😦 Hope you love them all!

  6. June 8, 2011 10:14 pm

    I loved this first book and was quite happy with the second book, but felt a bit let down by the last book in the trilogy.

    I really want to read more Bray, especially seeing as she seems to be coming out with such fun reads!

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