'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.'
This book was so magical, I loved every single minute of it. Plus, the copy I had smelled like a Harry Potter book. Always a good sign.
(that was weird, I know)
My expectations going into this book weren't particularly high, as I had heard many mixed reviews on it. But the expectations I did have were exceeded by far. (Even though I am obsessed with fiction set during the Victorian era, so I may be a little biased.)
Libba Bray threw a little bit of everything into this novel. There's romance, mystery, suspense, magic and soo much more it's hard to not be interested in the plot line. Sometimes I would be thinking it was predictable, and I was sitting there all like 'yeaah, I know what's going to happen', and the complete opposite just came and blew me out the water.
I loved the characters as well. Gemma isn't perfect - but then again, who is? Yes, she makes stupid decisions, and sometimes I felt like screaming at her, but she wasn't weak and she without a doubt knew her own mind, and I love that in a character. I don't like characters who are all good or all bad, because, let's face it, we're all a mix of both. The same thing applied to Felicity, Pippa and Ann, although for some reason, I couldn't like Ann as much as the others. I think, compared to the other three girls, Ann had no will power at all, and she was a bit hit and miss throughout the book.
OVERALL, A Great and Terrible Beauty gets 5/5 stars. AMAAZING! Read it, if you haven't already!