A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

great and terrible beautyFrom looking at the cover of this book, I assumed it would have been a historical romance novel.  I honestly thought it would have read like The Luxe or Manor of Secrets, and I was hoping for a Downton Abbey fix.  And though there was a touch of romance, my assumption was pretty far off.  Gemma Doyle’s experiences in a London finishing school [in 1895] were historically accurate, and she did experience some romantic entanglements, but the plot was primarily focused on the supernatural forces at play in Gemma’s life.  While part of me wishes I knew about this book when it first came out, part of me is happy that all three books were already published and available as audiobooks so I could listen to them in rapid succession!

Gemma had a fairly uncomplicated life until the day a strange creature attacked her mother in an Indian marketplace.  Rather than be captured by the creature, her mother committed suicide.  Gemma’s father insisted on telling everyone that his wife died of an illness, but Gemma knew the truth and was racked with guilt over the fact that her mother was only in that area of the marketplace because she (Gemma) had run off in a snit.  After witnessing the attack/suicide, Gemma started having visions — and the visions only got worse after she was sent off to Spence Academy.  Trying to make new friends and to succeed in finishing school while also figuring out what was behind the visions proved extremely challenging, but these challenges were no match for Gemma’s pluck and determination.

Happy Reading!

2 responses to “A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

  1. I’m surprised this one didn’t cross your path until now. I read it shortly after it came out, and I really wanted to like it more than I did… Reading Beauty Queens shows me how much she has grown as a writer since this book!

    • This book was purchased by my predecessor, so I hadn’t read the reviews when it came out. Though I saw it on the shelf constantly, and often helped patrons find it, I just wasn’t in the mood for a “historical romance” whenever it crossed my path. Until last December, that is (when I actually listened to it). That’s what I get for judging a book by its cover instead of taking the time to read a summary or review!

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