“A Great and Terrible Beauty” takes place in Victorian era India and England. Gemma Doyle is sixteen years old, and lives in British imperialized India. After witnessing her mother’s murder in a vision, Gemma is sent by her father to England, where she attends Spence Academy for Young Ladies. At Spence, Gemma eventually befriends three other girls, and they learn that within Spence’s dark corners and creaking halls, magic and ancient orders lurk.
This novel is absolutely incredible. The plot line is breathtaking – it is never dull, and is always driven and moving. It is extremely obvious that Bray always knew what she was doing with this novel, and that she never questioned her strong plotline at any point. The characters are gorgeously crafted, and each one is unique and clever. Gemma is a good role model for any young girl, as she is brave and quick-witted, and never gives up on herself or her friends. The setting is elegant, and truly gives “A Great and Terrible Beauty” a sense of mystery and fantasy. Just by reading the first chapters of this novel, any reader can see that Bray has a gift for writing historical fiction.
Overall, the author of this review highly recommends “A Great and Terrible Beauty”. In fact, it is one of her favourite books of all time. Unfortunately, this novel has minimal symbolism and deeper meanings, and therefore would not be suitable as an essay book or ‘book talk’ book. “A Great and Terrible Beauty” is better suited as a pleasure read. The author of this review believes “A Great and Terrible Beauty” to be suitable for ages thirteen and up.