Series: Gemma Doyle #1
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: December 2003
Reviewed by: Amber R.
A coming of age tale, set in the late 1800's, A Great and Terrible Beauty does not give us quite the story we would think. Gemma Doyle is an English girl that has been raised in India since before she can remember. Although she has begged and pleaded with her mother to go back to London, she had not gotten her wish yet. On her 16th birthday everything changes. When Gemma has a vision in an alley after running from her mother during an argument. A vision that changes everything.
After her mother's terrible death, she finally gets to go to England but not as she imagined. She's being sent to a boarding school for girls to learn how to become proper ladies abs snag a husband. Gemma does not fit in until she makes friends with the leader of a popular clique. Together with two other girls, Gemma, Felicity, Pippa, and Ann head off on an exciting adventure right in the woods behind the school.
It turns out that Gemma's vision wasn't a one time deal. She has the capability of traveling through different magical realms. However she doesn't understand the price that comes from such power. And there are things that happen that even someone as powerful as Gemma can't reverse.
Add in a band of gypsies, a mysterious boy who followed Gemma from India, dire warnings, a diary of a girl who died many years ago, and Gemma's new powers, it's a story you can't forget.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a bit darker than some YA that I've read but nothing that would be too scary for the age group. The four main girls definitely learn a lot. More than they expected actually. And it leaves you with a sense of wanting to know what happens next. I'll be picking up the next book in this series for sure.