PurplyCookie's Reviews > A Great and Terrible Beauty

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
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Jan 12, 13

bookshelves: book-series, young-adult, 1st-in-a-series
Read from May 24 to 26, 2010, read count: 1

The year is 1895. Raised in colonial India, sixteen-year-old Gemma Doyle wants nothing more than to leave the hot, sticky atmosphere for the civilized world of England, with its temperate climate, good education and bustling social scene. To her surprise, Gemma gets her wish in a dramatic and tragic way, when her mother is killed in a mysterious, supernatural attack and her father, unable to cope with his grief, becomes addicted to opium. In a madcap tale of gypsies, magical powers, and deep dark soul-sucking evil Gemma has to face up to her own personal demons as well as the very real spirits that wish her, and her friends, harm.

On one level, this is just your typical romantic bodice-ripper complete with virile dangerous young men and the comedy of manners that set the standards so long ago. Reading this book really seemed to me to be a kind of "The Craft" meets "The Little Princess". Gemma befriends both popular and unpopular alike and much of the book dwells on the problems haunting each of her friends. While Bray has an excellent voice for dialogue and situational comedy, I couldn't quite figure out what she was trying to say with her characters. One minute the two popular girls, Pippa and Felicity, would be playing incredibly cruel tricks on their classmates. Next, Gemma is their best friend and they all bare their souls over cups of whiskey. While the story really does make you feel as if these girls are getting closer, I found it very weird that when some of the girls go over the edge and deal in dark magic and (in a sense) murder, Gemma is perfectly willing to forgive them three pages later and never mention it again. There is no blame in this novel, a thing I found peculiar. When Gemma's friends get an innocent teacher fired, Gemma minds for maybe two hours and then, once more, forgets.

None of this is to say that "A Great and Terrible Beauty" isn't a great read. It really is exciting and interesting. I'm simply warning you that it is possible that you might feel a little let down or cheated at the end, very much how I felt, having had this book on my wish list for quite some time.

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Book Details:

Title A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)
Author Libba Bray
Reviewed By Purplycookie
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Reading Progress

05/25/2010 page 107

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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PurplyCookie Thanks for liking my book review, Double R! :)

PurplyCookie Thanks for liking my book review, Miss Clark! :)

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