Customer Reviews for

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1)

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

17 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

Truly original

Really, I don't say this very often (actually, like once in a blue moon), but this book s truly a masterpiece. Completely original, and haunts you long after the last pages. Excellent for avid readers beyond their age, and even more so for those hopeless romantics and f...
Really, I don't say this very often (actually, like once in a blue moon), but this book s truly a masterpiece. Completely original, and haunts you long after the last pages. Excellent for avid readers beyond their age, and even more so for those hopeless romantics and fantasy-meets-reality lovers.

posted by C4M30.l0k1 on November 23, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

11 out of 38 people found this review helpful.

PG-13

I'm not going to lie to you: I loved this book. You can see it like a movie. It was amazing! Well written. But I put it down when sex started happening. I don't want to read about that! It's disgusting! And in full detail! For those of you who don't mind that, I recomen...
I'm not going to lie to you: I loved this book. You can see it like a movie. It was amazing! Well written. But I put it down when sex started happening. I don't want to read about that! It's disgusting! And in full detail! For those of you who don't mind that, I recomend that, but I really want to warn those who do. Chose the Right.

posted by Anonymous on March 3, 2005

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  • Posted August 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not the author's intended audience but...

    I picked up this book based on a recommendation in a magazine article on promising YA authors. I am not the author's intended audience, but once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down.
    Gemma Doyle, a young woman coming of age in India, longs for a far away life in London, that she only knows from her grandmother's letters.
    On an outing with her mother for her own birthday celebration, Gemma rebels against the controlled life expected of her and is separated from her Mother in the throngs at the market. She runs blindly, to escape her Mother's ire and finds herself hopelessly lost, and on her own. In a swoon she has a vision and among the many things she sees, she witnesses her Mother's murder. Coming to her senses she discovers that her vision is all too real...

    She is sent to London, under the guidance of her Grandmother and is enrolled in Spence, an exclusive boarding school which turns young girls into England's future wives and mothers. Among the elite young women she begins to develop her gift to enter 'the realms' and explore freedoms unknown to her elsewhere. But is this her path? Or just a convenient diversion?
    I can't possibly do justice to this amazing story of a young woman living in the Victorian era. The characters are drawn so well and truly emotionally complete you can't help but be drawn to them. Each, in her own way adds a strand that helps complete the story's web. This is book one of a planned trilogy. I'm looking forward to more adventures.
    I suggest you enter this world. You'll be glad you did.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2011

    Awesome !!

    The book kept me in it's wonderful story line

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  • Posted June 7, 2011

    Ebooks prices.....hmmm

    Ok what is wrong here? I bought this book paperback 5 years ago for $8.95 and now its $9.99 for ereaders...... i thought books were supposed to be cheaper 1:as ebooks and 2:as they age, someone enlighten me. For what we pay for ereaders, the books should be less expensive on them. Good book tho, mite read again and actually read the series. :)

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  • Posted February 23, 2011

    A True Treat

    A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray is the first in a thrilling trilogy set in an all-girls boarding school in nineteenth century England. The main character, Gemma Doyle, must learn to juggle catty girls, a mysterious and handsome stranger, and her mother's suicide as she gains confusing new powers. She and her friends form a secret alliance called 'The Order' where they train to perfect and control their powers while also trying to uncover a great mystery. There are two main messages: a). Be careful with the choices you make because they will stick with you forever and b). It is your responsibility to control your power and to not let it control you. I really enjoyed the colorful writing and fantastic imagery in this book. The details swept me away and I found myself taken up in the whirlwind of Gemma Doyle's emotions. I could not put this book down. However, there were some sexual moments in the book that were not necessary. I did not like these additions and wondered what the author was trying to say by adding them in. They were not severe, just awkward and for this reason I would recommend this book to girls fifteen and up only. I would still recommend it though, the writing is that good. Overall I give this book four stars. Other authors I would recommend are C.s.Lewis and Frank Peretti.

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  • Posted February 5, 2011

    READ IT!!! (:

    I loooved this book so much!! as the series go on it gets more suspenseful and more intwined in the plot line. it wuz just great.....

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    You get a good feeling of the characters

    When I started reading this book, I had a hard time getting into the book. I felt that things weren't being explained well. I think that the author did a fantastic job explaining the characters because you as the reader end up really disliking these characters. You don't just glaze over them, you really get a feel for them and see how horrible peers can be. I think that this book was a little slow but I enjoyed it enough to read the 2nd book. The descriptions of London and how people acted and talked in the 1800's I felt was perfect. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it.

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  • Posted January 4, 2011

    Absolutely Brilliant

    When picking up this book from B&N I had no idea what I would submerged myself into and I am reaping the benefits of such a rare and beautiful story. Libba Bray has excellent taste and shows it perfectly in her writing style. You can tell that she had taken the time to do her research and bring to life this enriched tale of a versatile grouping of young ladies who discover themselves and each other through magic and the woes of life's drama in the late 19th century. So well-written and adventurous in all the right places, one of the best purchases I've ever made!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2010

    Libba Bray's BEST Book!!!!!

    Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty is an exciting fiction book that would be interesting and captivating to any girl who likes sorcery/magic. It tells of a girl's discovery of her connection to a secret world and society. As you read, you will see Gemma Doyle, the main character, discover herself and the new world around her.

    Gemma undergoes a terrible tragedy in the beginning of the book and is sent after wards, to a boarding school for girls in Britain. There, she discovers her powers and finds her way to the lost world that she belongs to and is responsible to save it. In it, she makes connections with her diseased mother, who helps Gemma on her journey. Along the way, Gemma has to fight her way through many obstacles (people, things, and situations). Any girl who loves action/adventure books would love to read about her journey.

    If you want to read about adventure, sorcery, and out of this world creatures and abilities, A Great and Terrible Beauty is for you. All of the obstacles and resolutions Gemma goes through will keep you reading until the end.

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  • Posted November 29, 2010

    Great example of how confusing being a women can be.

    I really enjoyed this book its a really great example of how confusing being a women in that time period can be. It adds a level of supernatural to the period of the book which is very enjoyable. This is a story about a girl struck by sudden grief and forced to a lifestyle change. Thrown into an all girls finishing school she has to adjust with the social politics of the school as well as the personal trials that she is dealing with. Add a confusing infatuation with a boy that keeps following her and you get an intriguing story of personal growth and dscovery. Also I want to comment on another persons review... the person commented that there was sex in this book, which is inacurate. There are some sexually explicit dream fantasies the girl has but no sex even in those fantasies. Not offensive.

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  • Posted July 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

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    A very promising start

    I've seen this book around, but I never wanted to read it for some strange reason. However, a friend whose taste I trust recommended it, so I decided to give it a try. Right from the start, Gemma's voice drew me in. Her character is extremely compelling, as is the world that Libba Bray has created. Magic in this story is different from many of the stories I've read recently, which was a major plus. Gemma's friends - Felicity, Pippa, and Ann - are also very interesting with compelling backgrounds that are alluded to. And then there is Kartik, the mysterious boy who watches them, who is a part of the Rakshana, an order designed to keep the magical realms from being entered. This book was short and simple, but the rest of the series promises much more.

    This book will appeal to girls and women of all ages. The books themselves are beautiful, as are the descriptions of the girls and their clothing. The characters attend a boarding school, and they face the prejudices and expectations of Victorian England. Magic helps these girls find freedom in the midst of their very structured, almost imprisoned lives, but they have to be responsible with it due to the threats lurking everywhere. Young adults will appreciate the emphasis on breaking free from what is expected in society.


    There are some mature themes (language, sexuality, arranged marriages) that are touched on, so I would recommend it with caution to students, depending upon their particular interests and maturity level.

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

    Engaging and Complex with Current Themes

    Gemma Doyle must decide if she is going to conform to the norms of Victorian Society in England and the extremely limited role of women in it. When the opportunity to explore other, magic realms is presented, she eagerly explores it. This is a novel about friendship, the unknown, the power of women (and men's reaction to that), love, memory of loved ones, wanting to help others (but sometimes wanting to do mischief), and the danger of using power that is stronger than you know how to control. I highly recommend it. If you liked Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay or The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, I think you will like this book.

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good Book

    Enjoyed the story. Some of the characters were likable. It's a book that I didn't want to put down. Would recommend it.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    love/hate

    Can anyone say love/hate relationship? That sums up exactly how I feel about the book. Yet, this is by far my favorite book out of the three in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. Ugh!

    The series is wrapped up nicely. The realms are peaceful again. Ann, Felecity and Gemma find there way in the world. As well, Kartik finds his purpose.

    Two things I have to say about this book, and they are random. One, it is a very thick book. Remember, my love/hate relationship? I normally like big, thick books but this one was too long. Two, Gemma has red hair. I have red hair. I love all protagonist characters with red hair. I know, shallow. But it is true.

    The ending is beautiful, but I hated it.

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  • Posted January 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Great and Terrible Beauty

    It was great, I liked because i got to escape reality when i read it.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Was surprised... in a good way.

    I work in a bookstore and A Great and Terrible Beauty would tease me from the shelf to open it but I could not bring myself to read it. My mother finally bought all three books as christmas gifts for me and practically forced me to read them. I thought for sure they'd be some drab girls gossip story that would make me want to scratch my eyes out, but I was very wrong. It reminds me of the 'Little Princesses' movie but full of magic. It's a fun read.:)

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A fantasy you didn't expect!

    Gemma Doyle is just a regular girl who wants to go to a boarding girl's school in London, while she lives in Africa. She gets her wish after a tragic event, but that's the whole plot! It takes place around the 1800s or so, I'm not sure. It's where hourse drawn carriages are about, and Sunday's where mandatory. But yet it's a fantasy! It has a magical world inside this one, even if it's hidden! A GREAT plot, thrilling, and truthful. It has hidden romance and a SURPRISING ending! Even I can't wait to read the next one, and the last one!

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Slow To Start, But Worth It

    This book surprised me. It was not at all what I thought it was going to be about.

    The book starts with the main character, Gemma Doyle, in India with her family where she has lived all her life. She wants to go to England desperately, but her mother will not permit it. Gemma makes her opinion quite clear to her mother and anyone else who will listen.

    Suddenly, some weird thing happens and I was confused. It was just a jump in the plot. Someone warns Gemma's mother of something and then she gives Gemma her necklace and runs off. Gemma runs off as well, but experiences disturbing visions of a huge black whirlwind overtaking her mother and her mother taking out a knife and killing herself.

    The visions turn out to be true. Her mother is dead and she is sent off to England to the Spence Academy for Girls. She is immediately the outcast and is roomed with the other outcast, a orphaned girl who is there on scholarship. The 'popular' clique immediately begins with taunting and pulling pranks on her and Ann, her roommate.

    A mysterious boy who she saw in India just before her mothers death appears. He warns her to stop the visions. Gemma ands up finding the diary of Mary Dodd, a former schoolgirl at Spence. The diary talks of many mysterious and magical things.

    Gemma finds out a secret about Felicity, one of the popular girls, and they begin to form an odd, twisted sort of friendship. Pippa, Felicity's best friend is against the relationship from the beginning, but Felicity is obviously the headstrong leader of the group. What she says goes.

    Felicity wants to form a club with Gemma and Pippa. Gemma insists that they include Ann as well. They begin to read the diary and desire to learn more about the secret realms Mary wrote about.

    The characters really start to develop as the book moves on, and each brings something special to the group. Felicity and Pippa seem less cruel, or at least you get some insight into why they act they way they do.

    I enjoyed this book even though it took a little while for the story to unfold and make a bit of sense. I also thought the ending was a bit abrupt, but now that I know that this is part of a trilogy, I am less disappointed.

    I also saw something that this might be made into a movie. The estimated release date was 2010. We'll see if it makes it. It would make a good movie, given a decent budget for special effects. Especially with the young adult fantasy craze going on right now.

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  • Posted September 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    WOW VERY GOOD

    The back of this book really doesnt do it any justice. Its a very dark and wonderfully wicked story. At first I thought it would take me a while to get through it but once I got into it, it was like I was watching a movie. It came so naturally. It is written perfectly. I hate series books. When I finish a book I want it to be done but I took a chance and Im so very glad I did. Give it a chance. Its very good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Will you leave you hurrying to the store to buy the sequel

    Pretty good book with its characters, style of writing, and the setting. I was a little bummed that it lacked a love story, but I'm hoping the sequels will set that right! I felt that the characters were unpredictable. It was hard, to guess their next move. I never knew who was truly a friend or who was a friend only out of neccesity. It kept reading intrigueing. There's quite a bit of mystery that makes you want to keep reading to figure things out. And to top it off twists that you don't see coming!

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  • Posted July 11, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    This book is wonderful

    I got this book as a present and when I started reading it, I couldn't put it down! The writing, the charaters and the drama! Also, a little romance, but that was so so. It was a little awkward for me.But I did like the chemsitry between Gemma and the boy. I am a total bookworm and I spent two days reading this book and getting so caught up in it. If I started reading at one in the afternoon, I'd find myself putting it down at nine o'clock at night! I really encourage people to give it a chance and to read it for fun. It's also great for gifts! :)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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