A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Sweet Far Thing
When we meet Gemma she is living in India. It is the day of her sixteenth birthday and the day of her first vision. In it she's witnesses her mother''s murder at the hands of a fearsome and mysterious wraith like creature.
Heartbroken and alone, Gemma is shipped back to London to attend Spence Academy for young ladies. It is there she discovers that her mother was part of a mysterious group called The Order. These women were gifted with great magic and the ability to enter the realms, a magical and beautiful world. Gemma finds she shares this power and begins to explore the realms mysteries with her new friends, Felicity, Ann and Pippa. But Gemma has been followed by a young Indian man named Kartik. He warms her the realms hold only danger for her and she must close her mind to her increasingly unnerving visions.
The contrast of the strict Victorian society Gemma and her friends live in and the magical freedom of the realms is wonderful. At first it seems the realms are paradise and you can have your hearts desire there but everything comes at a cost, as Gemma and her friends learn.
There was so much I loved about these books, the depiction of Victorian society, the world building of the realms, the friendships and conflicts between the girls, Gemma's struggle to accept her power and then use it wisely. The strong theme of feminism and being yourself. Oh and the romance, I loved that so much. Libba Bray writes some incredible magical and heart wrenching scenes.
The last book did seem to meander a little but I was so caught up with the characters I didn't really mind.
The ending suited the book. Even though I would have liked things to go differently it didn't ruin the whole series for me in the way it seems to have for some people.
Some of my favourite quotes to give you a taste of the books.
"In each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We’ve got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there is a lot of grey to work with. No one can live in the light all the time."
"And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time."
"But...you could have whatever you wished."
"Exactly," he says, nuzzling my neck.
"But," I say, "you could turn stones to rubies or ride in a fine gentleman's carriage."
Kartik puts his hands on either side of my face. "To each his own magic," he says and kisses me again.
This Trilogy is definitely on my favourites list, expect to see if constantly referred to like my other favourites.