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Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Book One) by Libba Bray

in a sentence or so: Gemma Doyle wants to go to london like every other 16 year old. she finally gets her wish...after she has a vision of her mom (which turns out to be real) committing suicide while escaping a mysterious black shadow beast.

Gemma arrives to Spence Academy in the middle of the year - which means everyone already knows each other, she has last pick of rooms/roommate, and is automatically the odd girl out. as if having weird visions that she can't control doesn't make her odd enough. after some cruel-yet-typical adolescent girl hazing, she finds her way into the popular girl crowd at Spence. her condition upon entering the popular clique is that they include Ann, Gemma's pudgy, boring, scholarship roommate. Gemma and Ann, combined with Pippa (the beauty) and Felicity (the powerful one), they start hanging out in a cave on the school grounds and take to reading an old mysterious diary...and then start doing magic...

though it started off a bit blah for me, things started to build up pretty quickly. especially with Kartik, the mysterious potential love-interest, who tells Gemma to avoid the visions at all cost. which of coruse, she doesn't. there are dark forces out there that are trying to get at Gemma, and she's just trying to figure it all out before it's too late. and keep her friends safe, and her spiritual connection with her mother, and learn how to be a proper british lady all at the same time.

since this is the first book in a trilogy, i think a lot of the novel was set up. a lot of character development, loose ends, and plot development. while i did genuinely enjoy the characters and the story, overall it felt a bit blah to me. not sure if i'll read the next two. maybe if i can read them for free... to be fair, i really did enjoy the wit, creative phrasing, and the feel of the book in general. the characters and the writing were complex, but very easy to relate to and stay in touch with throughout.

fave quote: "This is how fires start. With a spark. And I see the spark catching the wind." (375)

fix er up: just felt a bit blah to me.

title: A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Book One)
author: Libba Bray
genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I didn't have the opportunity to read this book, but I read the second two and enjoyed them. I'd say give them a read sometime if you have a chance.

  2. this has no interest to me. and the briggs-mayer test told me that i can be dismissive of things like this.

  3. I really loved this series. Especially this book, I remember it vividly since I was sleeping on an air mattress in my empty bedroom that was going through a remodel. With a lamp on the new wood floor next to me, it felt like I was camping out with Gemma. Great post!

  4. thanks for the comments. i may give the second two a chance sometime down the line...

    and i agree - wood floor+lamp = WONDERFUL ambiance for this book! a bit campy/spooky feeling. i dig it.

  5. Looks good--I don't usually read a lot of fantasy but it looks fun!

  6. i am a total fantasy novel junkie! maybe that's why i was a bit more critical with this review. regardless, it was a fun read!

  7. I really loved this book. It's one of my favorites. It has twists and turns you never would expect, such as the end of the 1st book. Please do read it. When I was in 6th grade, I read the first book. I brought it to school with me a lot. My (perverted)friend Josh looked over at the cover (you know, with the girl in the corset) and asked me if I had any other book covers like that. :-P


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