Book Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty


ashley | I was given A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray as a birthday gift, which was great timing because I had just stumbled onto the series myself and wanted to look into it more.

This was such an unexpectedly good read. I really enjoyed it. I don’t know why I went into it with low expectations, I guess the idea of a boarding school seemed really cliché and filled with snobby and predictable girls, not something I thought I would find very intriguing. And while this was sort of like that, it was also a whole lot more.

This reads like a gothic Mean Girls, a clique of catty, popular girls picking on all the outcasts and making school a living hell for each other. But circumstance brings four of these totally different girls together to form an inseparable sisterhood bond and discover the mystery surrounding the school and its previous students, as well as Gemma’s secret visions.

The supernatural elements of the realms were my favourite. They sounded like paradise, so pretty and a canvas to create pretty much anything your heart desires. Bray explores this power in detail, which was fun to read. A place like that deserves to be properly explored and I wasn’t disappointed.

I thought I had everything figured out early, and while I could sort of pick up on where things were going, there were enough surprises to keep me on edge. I really liked the back story of Mary and Sarah; I liked how it all came to reveal itself and what that meant for the new generation of the Order. I really, really liked how they recreated the Order, that these girls came together like they did and how they had a bit of fun with what they learned and then had to band together to survive when it all blew up in their face.

As usual, there was a love interest for Gemma. The chemistry between her and Kartik was strong, but there was such a distance between them that this didn’t take away from the sisterhood or the story. It created the intrigue and anticipation but they didn’t throw all their cards in at once, so I definitely look forward to seeing where this relationship leads them.

There was so much magic in this and Bray really took advantage of that and embraced it, creating fun situations and awe-inspiring lands. It was everything you’d want from a book with magic and far more than what I was expecting from this. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next two books. I love falling into something that surprises me so. 


more information
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december 9, 2003