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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

Libba Bray has written an exquisite trilogy (The Gemma Doyle trilogy) set in Victorian England. While this is technically a YA series, the writing style and story will definitely appeal to all age groups, it’s just that the main characters attend a sophisticated boarding school for girls. This is a book of Victorian historical fiction with gothic elements and some supernatural elements. London is vividly depicted as it would have been in the late 1890’s and the mystical world is a beautiful and scary place. You will feel like you are there.

Below you will find the descriptions of each of the three books and you can try this sample chapter of A Great and Terrible Beauty.

And may I add they have gorgeous covers.

A Great and Terrible Beauty (2003)

“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?”

You can read my mini review of this book too. This was my favorite book of the series. 5 out of 5 stars.

Rebel Angels (2005)

“Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain. . . .

The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.
But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.”
This was my least favorite book - I'm not really sure why, but the story hasn't really stuck with me. 3.5/4 out of 5 stars.

A Sweet Far Thing (2007)

“It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order - the mysterious group her mother was once part of - is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.”
This one rivals the first as my favorite book, but not quite {thisclose!} 5 out of 5 stars.

Overall, for the series, a 4 out of 5 stars!
You can visit Libba Bray’s website for more details about her other books and projects.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Seriously, what is it about Victorian England that always sucks me in?!

  2. I loved the first book of this trilogy, and then liked the second book a lot, but the third one didn't really do it for me anywhere near as much.

  3. Haven't checked these out--they sound like great escapist summer reading. Thanks for the rec!

  4. I ordered this series for the library, but never got to read it. It never stayed on the shelf very long. YA has so many great books right now.

  5. Coffee and a Book Chick - I don't know, I'm the same way lately. And I feel like the author did a great job with the setting.

    Marg - My perception of the books could be a little skewed, I read the first 2 right when they came out, but didn't get to the third one until like 2 weeks ago. So, the first one and third really stand out in my mind, while the second really doesn't.

    Rowenna - I would certainly check them out. I think they are so much fun and can definitely be enjoyed by all.

    Librarypat - I agree that there are a lot of great YA lately.

  6. I enjoyed this trilogy too! And my grades would be similiar to yours. Although Book 3 was a little predictable, I still read it feverishly until the end. Excellent post.

  7. This is one of my favourite series ever! Fantasy, romance, history (I love the Victorian Era), feminism, mythology all wrapped up and packaged nicely!

  8. JennyGirl - Looking back on it, book 3 was a little predictable. But since I had read books 1 and 2 so long ago, I didn't notice it as much.

    Nai - I loved this series - it really evoked the Victorian era and in so much detail.


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