A Great and Terrible Beauty

November 16, 2008

By Libba Bray
Reviewed by Taylor Tobey
4 out of 5 Stars

Experiencing things that most girls her age usually wouldn’t, Gemma Doyle, an intelligent, creative young lady is put along a strange and dangerous path that she’s not sure she wants to take. When witnessing her mother’s death, it becomes apparent to her that if wasn’t just anything or anyone that killed her mother. It was something that wanted revenge. “’I don’t care if you come home at all,’” was the last thing Gemma said to her mother. With deep regret inside herself, she searches for an answer to her mother’s death, while only wishing her last words were different.

Two months later after traveling to London, Gemma is put into Spence Academy, a rich private school where only the talented succeed. Poised with a delicate fashion, she sits through her classes on how to be a lady, while also becoming more fluent with Spence’s past. Searching for answers she soon finds out her mother was connected to the school in ways she wouldn’t imagine and with the friends that she meets, she confides in them everything she’s curious about. Not knowing what may lie ahead of her, Gemma looks deep into her soul for what is right, what is wrong, and what is simply too dangerous to cross. A Great and Terrible Beauty is a story with many laughs and events that will make you wish you were a character inside the book yourself. I recommend this to mostly teenage girls, but may anyone who picks it up enjoy Libba Bray’s thoughts as she makes the Victorian Age come to life through her words. My favorite character is Gemma’s friend Pippa, because I think she matured the greatest throughout the book. She uses her own desires to make her choices, which shows what courage she has as a young girl to decide her future. In the end, each girl realizes it’s the happiness of each person that is key to life. As Gemma goes through her year of fun, mischief, and even disaster, she learns it through easy and hard lessons. The question is, can she believe in herself enough to pull through the hard times?

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