by Libba Bray

Published by Delacorte Press

A review by John Irvin


“And then the scream I’ve been holding back comes pouring out of me hard and fast as a night train just as the sky opens wide and a fierce rain pours down, drowning our every sound.”

            Gemma Doyle’s last words to her mother are the most hateful—and now she has to live with it. But Gemma’s not like other girls, she sees visions of future events that have a deniable knack of coming true.

            When Gemma is institutionalized at Spence Academy in London, she finds herself thrust into a circle of the school’s most powerful women—dark entangled twists and turns that slowly reveal an wicked secret. Gemma’s power to draw the supernatural powers grows stronger.

            Then there’s the shadowy group that calls themselves the Order. Who are they? What do they want? What did Gemma’s mother have to do with them?

            And who is this tall, dark, and mysterious young lad apparently stalking Gemma?

a great and terrible beauty libba bray

           When I first sited this book in the bookstore a couple years ago, I was immediately drawn to the beauty of the cover. I must say, whoever did the artwork is a master! Then I opened the cover and feel even deeper in love. Why? Because the very first page holds several paragraphs of one of my most favourite poems: the Lady of Shalott by Tennyson.

            A gothic tale, starring elegant and complicated characters, unfolded itself before my eyes. The back of the cover states that it is a “curl-up-under-the-covers kind of book.” Now, I didn’t exactly do that, but I did spend quite a few hours sprawled out on my bed or my couch just reading and reading. If you want a magical fantasy to yank you out of this reality and drag you kicking and screaming all the way with but a few moments of respite, then you will adore this first book in a emotion-gripping trilogy.

            So, take my recommendation and click this link to go buy it: A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY.

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