A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray | Review

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A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray | ReviewA Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Series: Gemma Doyle #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on December 9, 2003
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages: 403
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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It's 1895 and, after the death of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped from the 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 the 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 entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy, timeless group called The Order. Her destiny awaits... if only Gemma can believe in it.

(Last Updated On: November 27, 2021)

Cover Review: I’m not a big fan of the cover. It doesn’t really represent the story at all. I did find myself repeatedly coming to the cover for reference of what a corset looks like.
Main Character: Gemma Doyle

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After I read Revolution, I knew I needed to read more historical fiction. I decided to read this one. I loved Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens, and I’ve heard great things about this series. I think it’s great too!

We follow Gemma after her mother killed herself. Gemma has always wanted to go to school in London. Her mother always told her no. Since her mother died, Gemma is allowed to go the school since the rest of her family lives in Europe. Gemma and her friends at school all find that they can perform magic.

Gemma can bring everyone to another little world where anything is possible. The girls meet up at midnight every night in order to go to this mystical world. At one point, everything starts to go wrong. Gemma must do anything she can in order to fix it and make it right.

There were many mysteries in this book and I absolutely loved it. I kept wondering, “Who is Mary Dowd?” Of course, we find that out. I really enjoyed the parts where the girls read from Mary Dowd’s diary.

I liked learning more about her. There’s also this guy named Kartik. At the moment, I still don’t know what his deal is. I know what group he was a part of but I don’t know why he really kept following Gemma.

I can’t wait to read the sequel and see what mess Gemma gets stuck in next time!

I definitely recommend this for fans of historical fiction, Libba Bray, or gothic novels.  Have you read this novel? I’d love to hear your thoughts!  

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  1. It sort of blows my mind that this book was released almost 10 years ago…now I feel really old haha. I love historical fiction, and I think this book was probably one of the first I read. In fact, I think it's safe to say that Libba Bray got me into the genre. Unfortunately, I wasn't a huge fan of Beauty Queens. Great review 🙂

  2. I know I own (or owned at one point) this book and I think I read it but I wasn't ready for it. Now as a more mature lover of historical fiction, I bet this book would be great for me. Hope you like the rest of the series as well!

  3. I loved this series!!! SO MUCH!!! Libra Bray really is a great author and his is definitely awesome historical fiction. Great review! And as a warning the last book is totally heartbreaking!!

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