Title: A Great and Terrible Beauty
Author: Libba Bray
Review Summary: Exciting fantasy novel with a gripping mystery, set in a vividly portrayed world, and with relatable characters.
Gemma Doyle is an independent young woman raised in India, struggling with mysteriously prophetic visions and her adjustment to Victorian era England. She is warned to suppress her visions by a strange but handsome young man who followed her from India, but she persists until she is eventually able to enter the world of her visions. This gorgeous world gifts Gemma and her friends with an intoxicating power, one which comes with both dangers and responsibilities.
This beautiful world, with it’s hidden dangers and small intersections with real life, fits incredibly well with the Victorian Era setting. It complemented the authors’ immersive portrayal of society, without overwhelming it. The plot concepts involved weren’t anything completely new, but they were put together in new and interesting ways. The magical world was a world all it’s own and locations were described so vividly I could picture them as though I’d already seen them in a movie.
The main character, Gemma Doyle, was also very well done. She very rarely made decisions that seemed silly and even when she did, she was driven by the perfectly natural concerns of a teenage girl trying to fit in. When interacting with her mother, she does come across as a bit of a brat, but most of the time she is a strong, independent young woman you can relate to. Finally, plot pacing was spot on. Action started early and the mysteries were drawn out just long enough that I was always excited to find out what happened next. Another point in it’s favor – as soon as I was done, I rushed to the library to get the rest of the Gemma Doyle trilogy 🙂
Who should read this? fans of strong female leads, simple but beautiful magical worlds, and the victorian era