September 1, 2011

Extremely Gifted Girls • A Great and Terrible Beauty

A Great and Terrible Beauty book cover
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Series: Gemma Doyle #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 1, 2006
Source/Format: Bought || Paperback

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. 

After thoroughly enjoying Beauty Queens, I bumped up A Great and Terrible Beauty on my list.  It was definitely an entire world away (literally, location-wise), and A Great and Terrible Beauty is a novel that I also managed to enjoy reading. Where Beauty Queens was humorous, light fare despite the sensitive issues of body image and acceptance that it covered, A Great and Terrible Beauty was a tad more serious and dark.  The one aspect both books shared was the sense of unreality; they were both fantastical, bringing in elements that were imaginative and magical.

Honestly, I knew from the moment I started reading that  A Great and Terrible Beauty was definitely a book that would reel me in.  And it was an amazing adventure from start to end - I fell in love with the story.  My favorite part of the experience was the world of possibilities that suddenly opened up to me. (If you read it, you'll definitely know what I mean!)

I didn't particularly have a favorite character, but I did come to appreciate the friendship between the girls - Felicity, Pippa and Ann. I think the things that I learned to love and hate about each girl are things that I actually find in real people, which definitely grounded the story a bit more for me. All in all, I liked A Great and Terrible Beauty and I'm definitely going to pick up the next one in the series.


  1. I seriously need to read this book soon (and 400 others). Haha xD
    I really liked your review. Almost made me order the book right now... ALMOST! If only my mattress was filled with money...

    1. I think all of us book bloggers tend to wish our mattresses were filled with money so we could buy ALL of the BOOKS ;)

  2. I've really been wanting to read this. Seems the majority of readers like it. I'm not expecting much but entertainment. Great review!

    Charmaine Smith (For more on Halibut Salmon Fishing Trips Charters Sitka Alaska South East - click here)


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