Author: Libba Bray
Release Date: December 26, 2006
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Finished Reading: September 20, 2010
Source: I won my copy of the book from Randombuzzers.com.
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain. . . .
The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring 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. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.
In a Sentence: As Christmas comes and goes, Gemma and her friends are pulled deeper into the mystery of the realm as they are forced to content with polite society and their inevitable graduation from Spence and presentation to society.
Overall Rating: 5
Plot Rating: 4
Character Rating: 5
Writing Rating: 4
Review: Wonderful, wonderful book! Such a great sequel to A Great and Terrible Beauty. I love how Libba Bray continues to develop her characters, including the Realm, even after we think we know all there is too know! The ways in which she slowly divulges the back story belonging to Gemma and her friends is a wonderful lure that pulls you through the book.
The only negative aspect that I found in this novel is that, sometimes, Bray spends too much time describing things that feel trivial. For example, at this point, her long descriptions of the realm make the story drag as do the constant reminders of the unpleasant aspects of her family and their habits and attitudes.
I enjoyed the addition of Lord Denby to the story, even though I didn’t find him overly likeable. In addition, although I know the secondary story about Ann and the theater are intended to make you like Ann more and understand her plight and woes, it mostly just annoyed me.
The mystery surrounding Circe unfolded in a way that I did not expect and was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t figure it out until the main characters did.
Cover: The cover could have been more in tune with the purpose of this book.