Beyond Books

A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels

A Great and Terrible Beauty A Great and Terrible Beauty
by Libba Bray

Whereas Monkey has suddenly been on a fantasy/urban fantasy kick after having raided my bookshelves, I have to admit that I don’t think I have ever read this many Victorian-themed books in my life after having raided her shelves! Between these Libba Bray novels (the second of which I bought myself) and then the Colleen Gleason novels (only one of which I have read. I didn’t like it enough to read the sequel which Monkey bought, but seeing as how I am completely out of books to read, I might just cave in…) and um, oh! the Pink Carnation series… I am suddenly finding myself wanting to call men “My Lord” and curtsy and stuff. One thing I am very grateful for are the Feminist Revolutions throughout history because I’ll be damned if I ever have to wear a corset every day for the rest of my life! (Wore one for my wedding, and hated it! Hated! Hated!)

So, er, back to the story, shall we? When Monkey handed me this book, I took one look and squinched up my nose in disgust. I didn’t want to read no frilly, victorian romance thing. However, it’s not. She proceeded to tell me that it was about a private girls’ school and the girls discover witchcraft (or a reasonable facsimile of). I like stories about private schools, and about witchcraft! Sold!

The book wasn’t all that terrific, but it captured my interest and I found myself caught up in the mystery of it. I found the main character, Victoria Gemma (I swear I have no idea why I called her Victoria!), to be likable and just snarky enough for me. I can’t say that I liked anyone else though.

Only because the second book was out in paperback did I buy it. If it had been in hard cover (like the third one, coming soon!) I doubt I would have splurged.

Rebel AngelsRebel Angels
by Libba Bray

This book picks up where the other left off. Pretty convenient in a series, I say. It’s Christmas now and the girls have all been sent home for the holidays and yet still manage to find time to hang out and cross over into the Realm and get up to all sorts of magical mischief. The bad guy they thought they defeated in the first book resurfaces and turns out to be someone they trusted. Ooh! How rude! Victoria Gemma is still snarky and sarcastic, but not nearly as funny as she was in the first story.

Not entirely sure why the publisher felt the need to stick girls in their underthings on the covers of both books. But, whatever.

I don’t think I will buy the third book, even when it reaches paperback status. If I happen to have joined a library (that stocks English books!) and see it on the shelves, I will certainly borrow it. But I can’t see that happening where I live. (Heck, I am sure I’ll be lucky if my local library has even ONE English book! Sometimes living in the Province of Quebec sucks.)

And I wasn’t sure what to classify these books under. YA, sure. But Fiction? Fantasy? Victorian Fantasy? It certainly isn’t Urban. I’m going with YA and Fantasy and leaving it at that. There is a mystical, magical element so it’s Fantasy to me. Just not the cool kind with dragons and faeries and Sorceresses (like Polgara the Sorceress! My most favourite Fantasy book of all! Methinks I might do a David Eddings post during my book drought.)

Gemma Doyle Series

  1. A Great and Terrible Beauty
  2. Rebel Angels
  3. The Sweet Far Thing


  • Eva

    I just found your site (via Poodlerat), and when I saw that Polgara the Sorceress is your most favourite fantasy book, I almost squealed! I’ve been in the book blogging community since January, and I’ve never, ever seen anyone mention David Eddings. Yay! You are now on my blogroll. 🙂

  • Denise

    I love this post because I’ve often thought about what it would be like to raid her shelves and KNEW I’d come away with victorian overload and she would not come away from mine with victorian overload.


    She’d come away from mine full of lesbian angst, hahaha.

  • cat

    Eva – welcome! It makes me happy to know people actually read this thing – besides Monkey, that is! 😉 And I will most certainly do an Eddings / Belgariad post now that I know they are lacking in book blog land!

    Denise – between you, Monkey and me we’d have one heck of a book store. 😉

  • esther

    I just wanted to say that in Rebel Angels, the main character’s name is Gemma, not Victoria. But it is a fabulous book in my opinion.

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