This is the sequel to A Great and Terrible Beauty.
From Random House: (too lazy to type the flap)
Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy—spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Lord Denby. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify—visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain.
The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world that Gemma takes them to. To the girls' great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.
But all is not well in the realms—or out. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face-to-face with her late mother's greatest friend, now Gemma's foe—Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. . . .
This sumptuous companion to A Great and Terrible Beauty teems with Victorian thrills and chills that play out against the rich backdrop of 1895 London, a place of shadows and light . . . where inside great beauty can lie a rebel angel.
They call it on the book a companion to A Great and Terrible Beauty, but it really takes place 2 months after the events from the previous book, so I think it is better termed as a sequel. And there better be another sequel because I really enjoyed this book!
A lot happens in this novel. It is a bit longer than the first book, which I found great because it was more to enjoy. The same characters are present: Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are still attending Spence and dealing with being teenagers, as they are sixteen years old when this book takes place. They come from different lives and different backgrounds, which makes their interactions more interesting. Gemma lost her mother in the first book and her father is dealing with sustance abuse. Her grandmother wants what is best for her, but can be rather uptight, and her brother is rather shallow. Felicity's mother was in France for the first book, but is back around. We also meet her beloved father in this book, but looks can be deceiving. And then there is Ann, totally alone in the world and living on the charity of others. She begins to gain confidence in this book and really shine.
Pippa and Kartik are back. Pippa got left behind in the realms in book one, so she is a different character than she was in the first book. You are never really sure what to make of her, and what has happened to her really bothers Gemma. Kartrik is one of my favourite characters. Gemma is upper-class and can treat him rather badly, but I like him. I think he adds an interesting aspect to the books. In this one, Gemma has to figure out where he stands in her circle.
It was a very well-written book, that just grabbed you. I could not put it down after I get a bit of a ways into it, and when I did, I was thinking about when I would be able to read it again. I read most of it today while I should have been doing a million other things, but anyways. It was too good to put down. In the last book, Gemma had to destroy the things that held the magic in the realms, and now it is causing problems that she is the only one that can fix. It is really a novel where she has to figure out who she can trust, who her real friends are, and what she is truly capable of. All the girls begin to really grow up and find themselves in this book.
I think everyone that likes a good, slightly fantastic novel should read this book. It will hold you until the very last page.
For more information, go here: Random House.
5/5 (a rare thing from me for a young adult book, and no idea what I will do if I like book 3 even more!)
Having read and enjoyed A Great and Terrible Beauty last year, I have been patiently waiting for this book to come into the library, and so was very excited when finally, not too long ago, it finally came onto the library catalogue.
So, after all that anticipation, was it worth the wait? Well yes, and no.
The school year is coming to an end for all of the young women at Spence Boarding school, and Gemma and her friends are looking forward to spending Christmas in London - after all what girl wouldn't love all the balls and the opera and all those tea times. Even young Anne manages to get an invite to London, only by making up an incredible story about her identity, but all three girls eventually find themselves in London.
Gemma's visit to London starts really well when she meets the deliciously eligible and dashing Simon Middleton - a member of one of the best families in London. Simon has taken a liking to Gemma, and she to him, but she must not allow herself to get too distracted - after all she still has to track down the mysterious Circe, bind the power in the realms and keep up all the necessary appearances of a very proper young Victorian lady.
One of the benefits of moving the setting away from Spence for most of the book is that there are a wide variety more settings that are available to the author - from the dingy parts of London where no proper young lady would ever go, to the opera, to Bedlam, to shopping in strange little book shops. There is also more scope with interaction with other characters such as the families of the girls, where some time was spent on some quite sensitive issues including but not limited to addiction.
Within the realms as well the story was expanded during this book. When the white door opens to Gemma and her friends they do find themselves in the part of the realm that they are familiar with, including Pippa, their friend who was left behind - but are things really the same. Gemma has found a young girl in Bedlam who has some knowledge of the realms and she and others are constantly warning Gemma to find the Temple and bind the magic, but to be careful of who she trusts, particularly as everything in the realms is out of balance at the moment. As the girls travel further into the realms they find more and more interesting tribes, some of whom are more interesting than others, and some who are far more dangerous than others. Can Gemma and her friends find the temple and bind the power before Circe does, and if they do, who should they bind the power in the name of . Is the Order to be trusted, is there another one who should be holding the power, or perhaps should it be shared.
Along the way Gemma needs to figure out who she can trust. Can she trust Simon to love her no matter what her strange powers may be? Can she trust Kartik, or is his first loyalty to others? And can she trust herself with the power that she has, or will it overwhelm her?
I think that this book was more fast paced than the first one, with lots more situations where Gemma and her friends could have found themselves in danger. In particular they spent a lot more time in the Realms in this book. In my opinion the book was less balanced than the first one was and in some way I think that this affected my concentration. To be honest, I think that once again this was more about my frame of mind as opposed to the book, but that's what I felt so therefore that is what I am basing my review and rating on!
I did enjoy it, but not quite as much as I enjoyed the first one. I am however just as eager to get hold of the new book, The Sweet Far Thing, which is due out in September.