Reader reviewed by Alex (Tales of a Teenage Book Lover)
A Great and Terrible Beauty is a brilliant gothic based in Victorian England. It's the kind of book that keeps you thinking about it long after you have been reading it endlessly in your bed for hours, excusing all outside distraction.
I was eager to start this book after I got it last week. I heard great reviews and was not disappointed in the slightest. I loved it and can't wait to read the rest of the series.
This is a very character driven book, as the fantasy element is a very minor role in the plot. I hear it is brought out more in the following books, but it was not very prominent in this installment. The romance between Gemma and Kartik was also not very pronounced.
I don't know if this would be a book for everyone, but it was a great read for me. I can't wait to get on with the rest of the books in this thrilling series.
I always recommend a book because there's always someone who will like it. But for me this wasn't a read the I enjoyed too much. Maybe I'm just not a Bray fan because I didn't really like Beauty Queens either. For this book though I liked the premise and the characters but I think the story wasn't captivating, there wasn't much action and I don't know I just wasn't pulled in too much ever.
I began reading A Great and Terrible Beauty expecting Victorian-style dialogue and mannerisms, intermixed with bits of fantasy and magic. What I got was the repeated mention of Victorian ideals (and fashion), using modern dialogue with next-to-no fantasy or magic. Frankly, I was a little disappointed.
After my first encounter with Gemma, I was tempted to put the book down and walk away. She came across as a spoiled and self-centred juvenile who I had no interest in reading about. Fortunately, after the death of her mother, she managed to pull her head out of her ass long enough to see that the world did not in fact revolve around her. In time, her moments of immaturity grew on me as I realized it was a pretty accurate depiction of your average sixteen-year-old, and she was strong when the moment required strength from her.
Having read in the summary that Gemma "blackmails" herself and Ann into the popular clique at her new boarding school, I was looking forward to cattiness and betrayals and a general feeling of constant distrust. What I got was a "friendship" (and I'm using that term very loosely) that seemed shallow and unrealistic. Gemma is constantly being used as a pawn by Felicity to make Pippa jealous, and seems to take no issue with it. In fact, she seems to relish in the moments where Felicity chooses her over Pippa, as she delights in seeing Pippa's hurt over her best friend's betrayal. For reasons I can't fathom, Gemma decides to trust these girls enough to tell them her deepest secret - she has visions and the ability to transport them all into a different realm where whatever they can imagine will come into fruition.
When we finally get to the realms, Gemma is told she is not allowed to use her powers outside of the realms. For the longest time no real reason is given, other then the patronizing "because I said so" routine of parents, and so of course when she is pushed by her "friends" (who then seemed to be using her for access to the realms and the power it gave them) to take the magic into the real world, Gemma does so without real fear of the consequences - because they were never properly explained to her.
I did enjoy the slow pacing of the revealing of secrets, as I felt it gave me a reason to continue reading. Without the mystery surrounding the realms, and Gemma's mother's involvement, I doubt I would have kept reading, especially considering that it took almost 300 pages before the realms were presented; the lack of magic and otherworldliness was quite off-putting as I was expecting quite a bit of fantasy. I read elsewhere that the "magic of the realms teeters on the edge of becoming a metaphor for drug use" and I couldn't agree more. There were several scenes where I was expecting the girls to get caught using some substance to explain their vivid delusions, as the images that were described seemed so disjointed.
Overall I feel quite underwhelmed by this book. It took about 100 pages or so before it managed to catch most of my attention, and even then I found myself putting the book down quite frequently as other things managed to steal my attention. I did enjoy reading it, but I really don't have much to say about it, which is why it's getting 2 stars for "meh" instead of 3 for "enjoyable yet non-memorable".
16 year old Gemma Ward never thought that she had the gift to see "visions" her mothers death which came in the first vision she had. Gemma is then sent off to a boarding where she forms a group of girls who help her to find the creature that kiled her mother along with the help of an indian boy who has been following her. Creative, mysterious and romantic. A sure pleasure to anyone who reads it.
Ive finally finished the eight hundred some pages of The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray. And I must say that in the last two days I have felt what I believe to be every possible emotion there is. I almost find myself at a loss for words in the shock that I still feel.
We once again join in the adventures of the girls of Spence that we have grown to love. The story once is centered on the magic of the Realms and what Gemma must to with it now that she has bound it to herself. Although I rather enjoyed the underlying storyline of Gemma and Kartik, which is just one of many that concludes this tale.
It seems that everyone and everything are against Gemma. She cant seem to open the portal since Christmas and she no longer feels the magic within herself. She fears that the magic has not chosen her to continue in the Order. The mysterious East Wing is being rebuilt and a masked ball is to be held in its wake. And Gemma has still not seen Kartik, and his whereabouts are also a constant strain on her thoughts.
When all else fails Gemma feels she will never return to the realms until a mysterious stone is found in the midst of the East Wing construction. Which turns out to be a secret door in which she has seen in her visions complements of a Miss Wilhelmina Wyatt, former Spence Lady and author of A History of Secret Societies.
Once back in the Realms, Gemma cannot deny the changes that are happening around her, but yet she is still not ready to share the power. Gemma must carry around the responsibility of the magic, figure out whom she can trust, try to help her friends and also work toward her debut season! No wonder it took eight hundred pages!
Bray does not disappoint in the final chapter of Gemmas tale. The plot twists where plenty! Felicity was her brash self and Ann as insecure as ever, but in the end these girls surprised me for the better! The writing was detailed and painted vivid pictures even more so than the two previous books. I couldnt put it down, and now thats it over I fear I will miss these girls.
this book has it all. magic, romance, secrets, betrayal, love, and friendship. it's a book that will keep going with twist and turns. it has a plot that revolves around sophisticated girls. it is a perfect read for it all.
I have to start out saying that "A Great and Terrible Beauty" is the best book I have read yet(and I have read a LOT of books ;). It was fabulously written. All of the characters come alive as you read and the story is complex and enjoyable. As aoon as you think you know what's going to happen next, something happens that changes your whole outlook on things.
"A Great and Terrible Beauty" is about a 16-yearold girl named Gemma. Gemma's mother kills herself when confronted by a horrible shadow creature. Afterwards, Gemma is sent to boarding school in England. There she befriends three girls and the four of them recreate The Order, a powerful group of sorceresses. What they don't know is that Gemma has the same power they hold. Through her visions, Gemma can travel to the realms. Gemma takes her friends there and their dreams come alive.However, the mysterious Kartik is constantly warning Gemma to stop her visions and not go to the realms anymore. What will Gemma choose? And what will happen when she makes that choice? The only way to find out is to read.
End-of-the-nineteenth-century London meets beloved coming-of-age story meets paranormal occurrences in this smashing debut by the promising author Libba Bray. For anyone who loves historical fiction, fantasy, the paranormal, romance, coming-of-age stories...okay, that covers just about everyone...this book is a great read.
After her mother is murdered in the streets of India, where they had lived, Gemma Doyle is sent to a girls' boarding school near London. Spence is a ghastly place with cold staff and even crueler classmates, particularly the clique of power-hungry Felicity and beautiful Pippa and their group of followers. Gemma is determined not to get sucked into their manipulative lives and instead tries to focus on understanding the strange visions she has been getting recently. It doesn't help that Kartik, a young Indian man who was present with her at her mother's death, has followed her to England and is now watching her, warning her to close her mind to the visions. Which only makes the headstrong Gemma even more determined to figure out her visions, which she believes will be the clue to understanding her mother's murder.
Surprisingly though, she, Felicity, Pippa, and a doughy scholarship girl Ann form a clique of their own. Theirs consists of sneaking out away to the caves in the surrounding woods, drinking, reading out of some girl called Mary Dowd's diary, and talking wistfully about what they could do if they were not all restrained to a life of pleasing men and running households...except for Ann, whose poor status will force her to be a governess to snotty children somewhere. It's a dismal future, but such is the life for English girls.
Then, suddenly, Gemma and her friends realize that her visions about a place called the Realms is real, it's all real. They visit the Realms, a wondrous dream world where everything they want can happen. They spend almost every night there and can even bring magic back into the real world for a short period of time.
It seems almost too good to be true...and it is. There are those who want the magic of the Realms all to themselves, and they will do anything to deceive Gemma and her friends. A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY begins a fantastic trilogy about Gemma and her decisions regarding her friends, love life, and the magic of the Realms.