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Book Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty December 17, 2007

Posted by battysgirl in Books, Reviews.
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A Great and Terrible Beauty

Libba Bray

Date: March 22, 2005—   $9.99—   Book

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Three twinkly stars. (of a possible four, of course)

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon.com
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.

Gemma, 16, 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. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy. (Ages 12 up) –Patty Campbell –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–Libba Bray’s new Gothic tale of a Victorian girls school with a deadly secret (Delacorte, 2003) is brought to life in Josephine Bailey’s nuanced reading. At 16, Gemma must leave the only home she’s known–colonial India–when her mother kills herself under bizarre circumstances and Gemma is both confused and intrigued by the details. Although she longed to see London while her family lived abroad, Gemma is disappointed to find that she’s being packed off to finishing school there. At school, she stands up to the very circle of girls who seem to hold the most power, while also dealing with weird hallucinations and the furtive presence of the young man she first saw in Bombay on the day of her mother’s death. The school and its administration hold fast to a secret about the class of 1871, which passed through it nearly a quarter century before Gemma’s stay. As friendships develop between Gemma and three of the other students, and several of her teachers reveal interesting personal sides of themselves, the plot and the reader both tug the audience into the creepy depths beneath a cave on the school grounds. There the living girls find a pleasurable world populated by goddess figures–and Gemma’s dead mother. How all this ultimately connects with that mysterious class of 1871 will delight Gothic fans and inspire those new to the genre to taste such classic writers in it as Daphne du Maurier. The audiobook is further enhanced with an afterword spoken by the author–a young Texas woman who describes how she researched the background details she needed to realize a story set in a place and time so far from her own daily experiences. Highly recommended for all collections serving high school students.–Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Batty’s Girl
After reading the Twilight Trilogy, sent to me by Miss Monie, I took her advice and looked up another author in the Young Adult genre.  While this book was enjoyable, I wouldn’t put it on the same pedestal that I have the Twilight books.  Although it was quite good, it just didn’t do as much for me… maybe I read too much Young Adult in one week though…

If you liked Twilight, I’d recommend it, but I wouldn’t think this should be an adults first foray back into Young Adult Fiction.

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