A Great and Terrible Beauty
By Libba Bray
Published by Random House Children’s Books, 2005
432 pages (hardcover)
It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life 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’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to? (from barnesandnoble.com)
I liked it, I didn’t love it. I mean, it was good and mysterious and fantastical, but I think I was expecting something a bit… more.
One of my biggest frustrations was the (lack of) world-building. The culture and quirks of the 1890s was not explained well and I think that was a lost opportunity. Victorian England can be such an enchanting period with which to work and I felt confused and let down in parts. Additionally, I would have liked more vivid descriptions of the alternate realm. It was described as such a lovely and addicting place to be, but I didn’t catch that in the details.