Too many details in A Great in Terrible Beauty to keep track of so I couldn’t put this series down for too long. Here’s book two in Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy! Rebel Angels by Libba Bray is a super fun sequel that breaks out of the familiarity of finishing school and into the hustle bustle of Victorian London in winter.
– A few spoilers to follow if you haven’t read book one. And why have you not read book one? –
Having grown up in India, Gemma can’t help but marvel at her first snowfall before winter break. All the jolly girls singing songs of jolly gentlemen have no idea that theirs is not the only world. Only Gemma, Felicity and Ann know that there’s a place that has already claimed one of their own.:
…a place of such beauty and fearsome power. A place where what you dream an be yours, and you must be careful what you dream.
The coming holiday season will be Gemma’s first without her mother, but she’s not thinking of that. Kartik has returned to tell her she must bind the magic she released in book one or else… The girls are to find the temple that holds the magic so Gemma can say a few choice words and keep the dark forces in check. Of course, nobody knows where the temple is, and if they do it’s not in their interest to help anyone bind magic that is finally loose again.
On top of the temple task, Gemma is to find hidden members of The Order to re-form and re-store them. Told to trust no one, the three girls have only their wits, a keen sense of adventure and a former teacher who lost her job thanks to them.
Questions of good and evil and the choices we make are always on the girls’ lips. There’s one scene in an art gallery housed in a former gentleman’s club where they stare at a painting depicting the battle of Rebel Angels.
What if evil doesn’t really exist? What if evil is something dreamed up by man, and there is nothing to struggle against except our own limitations? The constant battle between our will, our desires, and our choices?
This is one of the few YA series that I think many girls in their early teens would get a huge kick out of reading. You’ll enjoy this story at any age, but the questions Gemma and her friends have about life and love and who they’re going to be remind me of that window of time between childhood and high school when you just begin to realize there’s so much to learn about your self, your friends and the whole gigantic universe.
There’s a bit of romance in this one, but what’s really exciting is that Gemma, Ann and Felicity make brave choices as they realize that they alone control their future.