A Great and Terrible Beauty Book Review
At Spence Academy, Gemma learns that life exists beyond our world, life in a magical realm. Don’t miss A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray.
The VisionsSixteen-year-old Gemma Doyle is cursed with strange and frightening visions. She envisions her mother committing suicide, and later discovers that it actually happened. With her mother gone, and her father addicted to laudanum, Gemma is sent to a Spence Academy for Young Ladies, a British finishing school.
At first, the girls are reluctant to befriend her. But soon Gemma develops a strong bond with her roommate Ann and the two most popular girls at Spence—Felicity and Pippa. A young man named Kartik, who followed her from her hometown in Bombay, warns her to block out her visions, as they’re far more dangerous than she realizes.
Gemma’s visions lead her into a cave near Spence Academy. She discovers an diary written twenty-five years ago by a girl called Mary Dowd. Mary was just like Gemma—she was sixteen, attended Spence Academy, and strangest of all, she had the same terrible visions. The diary revealed information about an ancient group called the Order—women who possessed the ability to open the door between the real world and a magical realm.
Ignoring the possible dangers, Gemma and her friends create their own Order. At midnight, they meet at the cave to read from Mary’s diary, and they discover the shocking secret about a fire that once torched the east wing of Spence Academy. Eventually, Gemma manages to open the doors between the realms, and she and her friends discover a world of magic, color and beauty. But the girls soon discover the dangerous power of the realms, a power that will hurt not just themselves, but the entire world.
The Bottom Line
Set in 1895, this book is perhaps the best historical teen fiction series on the market. Libba Bray weaves magic, adventure and even a love story into one, while writing in a modern voice. Even if you struggle with reading historical or high-fantasy books, you’ll love A Great and Terrible Beauty. The story is addicting, and best of all, it’s a trilogy! Check out Rebel Angels and A Sweet Far Thing.
A Great and Terrible Beauty Rating: