Note: Because I never really know how to review a series, this is a combined review of A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. Also, I listened to these on audio and so expect to spell a lot of things wrong.
Gemma Doyle lives a charmed life in India with her mother and father. Only, like most sixteen year old girls, she no longer sees the charm in it. On the day of her sixteenth birthday, she witnesses her mother’s death in a vision and things are never the same. Soon she is in England and attending a school for girls just like she had begged for. Only, things are not what she expected. The other girls make fun of her and she doesn’t fit in. She is troubled by visions and comes in possesion of an old diary telling about two best friends who attended the school and how the east wing burned down. Gemma learns that what ties her to the girls is that she has the ability to enter a door of light and the Realms, a magical world where she gains power.
Things are not right in the Realms. The Order, a society of women who used to care for the Realms, has sealed them off from the rest of the world along with the magic. Gemma is the key to the magic and she must overcome evil and chaos, form alliances, and deal with the death and reappearance of a close friend all while still dealing with the real world as well: debuts, courtships, stern teachers, poor French, a turd of an older brother, and even a father with addictions.
I thoroughly enjoyed these books. They made me feel some feels. They made me laugh and cry and they made me swear a lot. I like Gemma because she is strong yet flawed. She is different from her peers and she is troubled by it. In fact, her longing to belong is often what gets her in trouble as her dear friends, Ann and Felicity, constantly persuade her to go against her gut. I love it when Gemma gets heady with power and explodes in a burst of independence. Plus, there were a couple of swoon worthy boys about.
A great trilogy and very well done on audio.