A Great And Terrible Beauty
By Libba Bray
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.
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. GemmaKartik, 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.
I can not count the number of times I have been told to "read this book"! I have so many reading buddies who LOVE Libba Bray, and as per usual, I wait until the new and cool become tried and true before taking the dive.
Everyone who suggested this book, was right. They were all so right.
This is a fabulous Historical/Fantasy/Wonderful book.
I kind of felt like it was like every other 'magic is real', 'we found a new world' kind of book. But in all fairness. This one probably came before any of the other 'I am actually magic' books I've read over the past couple years.
I'm totally looking forward to reading the next two books of the series.