Author: Libba Bray Novel: A Great and Terrible Beauty Release date: 2003 Category: Gothic, historical fantasy
Blurb: It’s 1895 and, after the death of her mother, 16 year old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds her reception a chilly one. She’s not completely alone though... she’s being followed by a mysterious young man, sent to warn her to close her mind against the visions.
It’s at Spence that Gemma’s power to attract the supernatural unfolds, as she becomes entangles with the school’s most powerful girls and discovers her mother’s connection to a shadowy, timeless group called The Order. Her destine awaits... if only Gemma can believe it.
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Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray has very quickly become one of my favourite novels. I picked it up from the library on the off chance, more interested in the cover than I was the blurb, but what a book it turned out to be!
Set in the late 1800s at a girls finishing school, the four main characters try desperately to escape their tedious and controlled lives. Even their clothes are pinning them down. The girls end up starting their own club called The Order, in an attempt to brighten their lives and fully express themselves.
Behind every character and every word spoken is a little darkness and I was never really sure who to trust. This novel contains all the elements needed for a good read; uncertainty, mystery, murder, magic, romance, friendship and a road of choices.
As the reader I was eased into the climax so that all of a sudden I was part of the story, joined at the hip with Gemma. Not until it was too late did I realised just what was happening and I felt powerless to stop it. I was pulled along, around every bend and down every waterfall until I was stressed, happy, terrified and in love all at the same time.
This one is definitely a 5 star read and one novel that I intent to add to my collection!
P.S This novel is currently being turned into a movie, screenplay by Charles Sturridge.