Oh my goodness. Bad, Heather, bad! I know I am SO late writing this up, it’s ridiculous. It seems like my life has kicked it into high gear the last month or so. Work is crazy. The kids keep me running. There has just been so much to DO! I hope I can remember all I wanted to say about these books. And do it without giving too much away!
At first I was just going to read the last one in the series, the recently published The Sweet Far Thing, but when I started it I realized I didn’t remember enough about the first two to continue! I am really glad I did this, because reading all three straight through really built up the tension and suspense. I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed the reading of these three if I had not read them that way and I highly recommend that method.
The first in the series, A Great and Terrible Beauty, introduces the reader to Gemma Doyle. Gemma is newly 16 and desperate to go to boarding school in England like all the other girls. Her mother is just as desperate to keep her in India; as far away from England as she can get. Things to do not go according to plan however and Gemma makes her way to school, guilt-ridden over her mother’s death and sad. Added to the “bliss” (read, angst!) of being a teenager, Gemma begins changing in ways she can’t understand; unexplained visions come upon her violently and unbidden and terrify her.
At her new boarding school, she makes friends with three other girls; wild-cat Felicity, dour Ann, and delicate Pippa. After learning about a mysterious secret society of women called The Order, the four decide to form their own Order. And when Gemma discovers the ability to enter the Realms…well, I don’t want to give too much away. Suffice it to say, it’s quite a ride up until the somewhat shocking conclusion.
In the second of this series, Rebel Angels, we find Gemma back with her friends and again frolicking through the vast Realms. Gemma did a lot of damage to the Realms at the end of AG&TB and now must rectify what she has done. In the meantime, she’s on holiday from school and learning to make her way through society. Gemma has a lot to deal with now. Her father is sick. Her grandmother is domineering and very opinionated about Gemma. She has met the handsome son of Lord Denby and finds the interest is mutual. Kartik stays close…sometimes uncomfortably and rather attractively close. And Circe continues to be a constant threat to Gemma, her friends, and the Realms. Gemma must act fast to make her mistakes right.
The last in the trilogy, and in my humble opinion, the best is The Sweet Far Thing. And here it gets hard to review, because there is just SO MUCH that happens in this final part of the story. Everything Gemma has worked for in the past year is finally coming to a head. She has relied on herself; her strength and her smarts and now the true tests remains. New perils wait for her, her friends, and Kartik in the Realms as the magic spreads out of control. New alliances must be made, trust given to those whom seem the least likely to deserve it and false individuals discovered. It’s a slippery slope for Gemma one fraught with danger and terror.
These stories, especially the last, are one hell of a wild ride and I know I can’t do them justice with my pitiful reviews. I hope I have given you a suffient taste, enough to convince you to read it, without revealing anything better discovered between the pages of these books.
I followed Libba Bray’s blog as she wrote the last novel and know how much work and worry (read; blood, sweat and tears) went into the writing and rewriting of it. And boy did she deliver. She also reminded me, yet again, just how much I love YA books. I couldn’t put down any of the books, but the last one really took it up a notch. It’s a pulse-pounding adventure story, that is for sure. I highly recommend this series. I couldn’t all three of these together for the Once Upon a Time Challenge II.
Incidentally, A Great and Terrible Beauty has been optioned to be made into a movie. I would be very interested to see how they pull that off!
Others reviews are here:
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Sweet Far Thing
If you’ve read this book leave me a link in the comments, so I can link back to you!