ladygraced, January 19, 2010 (view all comments by ladygraced)
An amazing gothic about a girl in Victorian England who is given the chance to be different and siezes it. This first installment in Libba Bray's "Gemma Doyle Trilogy" is a must read.
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megan s, June 14, 2009 (view all comments by megan s)
Despite its historical setting complete with its implications for the girls, A Great and Terrible Beauty's characters face similar situations to today's teenage girls. For Gemma, as for many teenagers, there is always that dangerous line between being herself and changing herself to fit in with her peers. Her friends' activities are at once attractive and repulsive to her, but Gemma is by no means perfect. She is spunky, opinionated, and outspoken. She is blunt and tactless when perfect manners are expected of her. She knows what's right but she does what's wrong. In other words, she is a very real character and one who is easy to sympathize with.
Bray's writing is richly atmospheric, effortlessly evoking the many settings of her story. From a busy Indian marketplace to a slightly spooky girl's boarding school in London to incredible magical realms, Bray's beautifully rendered places play almost as important a role in her story as the girls themselves. Her rich descriptions make this novel a particularly engaging page-turner.
Most significant of all is Bray's skillful handling of the problems inherent in being a young woman in Victorian times and her use of these issues to further our understanding of the particular grip the magical realms have on Gemma, Felicity, Pippa, and Ann. Girls are sent to Spence not to learn for the sake of knowledge but to store up the lessons that will make them good and cultured wives for some wealthy gentleman of their parents' choosing. Bray's characters are strong-willed young women who desire husbands and beauty and fluent French but also want to have their opinions heard, to be able to have the power to influence the courses of their lives, to accomplish things that women aren't even allowed to attempt. This understandable desire for choice and for power plays beautifully into the girls' growing obsessions with the magical realms that will open for Gemma alone.
A Great and Terrible Beauty is a delicious, spooky page-turner that doesn't shy away from serious themes. One of my favorite reads of the year.
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Mary Crowell, May 10, 2009 (view all comments by Mary Crowell)
This book is respectable and had its moments where the author wrote beautifully and with some depth, but for the most part, I was disappointed. I was expecting more than the typical "loner" mystery girl who falls in line with the beautiful and popular "in-crowd" of Mean girls.
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chocochic53, December 9, 2007 (view all comments by chocochic53)
At first I only picked up this book because of the beautiful cover, but after reading it for just a few minutes, I was hooked. The story starts out with a mysterious bang, and grips you, forcing you to read it until you're through. You'll have to read the sequel Rebel Angles and personally, I can't wait for the third book to come out!
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A Great and Terrible Beauty
Used Trade Paper
0 stars -
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"In the opening scene of Bray's riveting debut novel set in Victorian times, narrator Gemma Doyle walks the streets of Bombay, India, with her mother on her 16th birthday. By the end of the second chapter, her mother, who has told Gemma to return home, is dead, and Gemma has envisioned just how it happened, involving a 'dark shape' that makes a 'slithering sound.' Next, readers find her on a train bound for Victoria Station, en route to Britain's Spence Academy. Gemma's visions intensify while at school, where she is led to a nearby cave and discovers a diary of a woman who had similar experiences. She soon learns of an age-old Order of sorceresses who can open doors between worlds-and of a tragedy two decades prior that is beginning to cast its shadow over her. Meanwhile, the girls of Spence are preparing for their 'season,' when they will be trotted out before wealthy bachelors in hopes of securing a good marriage. Bray brilliantly depicts a caste system, in which girls are taught to abandon individuality in favor of their man's wishes, as a deeper and darker horror than most things that go bump in the night. While aimed at female readers, it will be just as delectable to boys brave enough to be seen carrying a book sporting a corset-clad girl on the cover. The pace is swift, the finale gripping. A delicious, elegant gothic. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Library Journal,
"An interesting combination of fantasy, light horror, and historical fiction, with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"A Gothic touched by modern conceptions of adolescence, shivery with both passion and terror."
by Children's Literature,
"A well written page turner, with strong characterization and dialogue, this Victorian-era gothic novel will find many readers unable to put it down until the very last page."
"Soundly researched and credible....[An] exhilarating and thought-provoking read."
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazis wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . shes falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself town between one of the brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.
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