Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

Posted September 8, 2013 in 5 Star Ratings / Leave a comment!




About A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY (book #1) (taken from

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order.


I loved the setting for this book. I like how it was set in the past in a Victorian setting with the gothic looking castle and everything. The plot flowed really nicely in all the books but I found it was kind of quick. That’s not a bad thing, I was just sad it ended so soon. I liked how the other realm was incorporated into the story. It’s something really different and cool. The two different worlds were really well done. There was a little bit of romance thrown in and I really liked how the author did with him. It wasn’t super awkward or just thrown together. It was actually really cute.

I really liked the main character Gemma. A lot of reviews describe her as petty and childish but she is only 16 in the series and she has a lot going on. I didn’t like the other characters as much but I liked how Gemma’s relationships with them were based on that they all wanted the same things. They weren’t actually friends, they were all just looking for a bit of freedom. I loved Kartik, the love interest, and probably the only guy.

I really enjoyed the ending to this series. It tied everything up nicely and was slightly unexpected. I’d recommend this book to any teens or younger.

5 out of 5

“There are no safe choices. Only other choices.”


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