It all began with Jasmine asking if I'd like to join the book club she was creating. As a book worm, there was only one answer to such a deliciously tempting offer; a bright and loud "YES!". The book club has been great so far, not that I needed incentive to read, but it is nice to find out new books and to have like-minded people (read " fellow book worms") to discuss what you just read. So far we have read two books and for the book of July, Jasmine's book got selected, and that is how I ended up reading the whole trilogy.

Yes. I'm like that. An overachiever.

We only had to read book one of the series but I got so quickly sucked in the book that I just kept reading and reading. I am currently halfway through book three but I figured I'd write about the book series and give you my two cents, without going too much into details so as not to spoil it for you.

So what is it all about?

This series is a cross between period fiction and Fantasy. The story revolves around Gemma Doyle, a young woman sent from her home in British India to the boarding school, Spence Academy, after the mysterious death of her mother. There she meets Ann, Felicity, and Pippa, three other remarkable young women and together they discover the dark past of their school, revolving closely around a mystical group referred to as The Order. In the first book, they find out that this group of sorceresses was forced to disband after one of their own, a woman named Sarah Rees-Toome,betrayed them. Throughout the series Gemma learns of her own heritage and the magical powers she possesses, including the ability to enter "The Realms," a magical world in which dreams can become reality, but everything seems to have a cost.
Thank you, Wikipedia.

You said something about throwing money in the air...

Ahem. Right.

About those two cents...
You know how they say "Don't judge the book by its cover"? Well, truth be told I was sold the moment I looked at the cover of the first book, A Great and Terrible Beauty. I knew right then that it would dive into history. And I am a sucker for historical fictions. When I read the plot, and found out there would be magic involved, I was like "Hell yeah! I'm in". And I was in.

Book 1, The Great and Terrible Beauty, was really easy and fun to read. I enjoyed going back to the 1800s and discover what was that power that Gemma, our heroine, had. Like in all (good) books, there is always the good girl, the mean girl, the naive one, the dull one and the dumb one.  And I felt like I found all of them right there.  And like in all (good) romance, there is always a boy. The Boy. In this case, his name was Kartik. The rebel and mysterious guy who makes you want to scream "Go get him, girl!". But besides all of those cliches, what I enjoyed the most were the themes of the book which covered love, jealousy, friendship, the social issues choices women of that period of time had, among other things. There was of course magic. I found the Realms a great place to be, but I'm not sure I would want to go there and experience it. You know, I never had the urge to be part of the Realms and the inner circle of The Order. Not like when I was reading the Harry Potter series and I just craved for some Hogwarts experience and would do anything (almost anything) to be like Hermione Granger. Really. Of course, I found that the book got slow closer to the end before picking up. The "dead" moment didn't last too long (thank you!), and I found myself craving for some more Gemma tales. 

My Final Rating: ★★★★

Book 2, Rebel Angels, was probably the best book of the series. I know I haven't finished yet with book 3, but so far it doesn't compare to the excitement of book 2. It was funny, magical, with lots of great moments and action that I just kept turning the pages one after the other. For me, the series could have ended at book 2. It was THAT good. I didn't always agree with Gemma's choices but hey, it's her story right? Although Felicity and Ann didn't abandon Gemma when things got sticky, I couldn't help but find them annoying. It's like they were friends with Gemma just because of her power, and if the girl didn't feel like playing with magic, they would "pout" and be mean to her. They haven't proved to be responsible at all and seriously, I couldn't feel the real bond of friendship between the characters. It seemed that they were all stuck with one another for different reasons. Another thing that annoyed me was that the author seemed to forget at times that she was writing about 1800s girls and woman condition back then. She clearly suggested that Gemma could have a future with Kartik, who is an Indian, which let's be realistic, is no biggie now but back then? Impossible. Of course I might be the only one who got or will get annoyed by those points, but I just had to share them.

My Final Rating: ★★★★★

Book 3, The Sweet Far Thing, was a bit hard to begin, to be honest. I got more annoyed with Gemma who I felt couldn't decide for herself and let Felicity, Ann and Pippa intimidate her. Plus there was a lot of repetition of what has been going on previously that I kept putting off the reading of the next chapter till next day, and the next, and the next... you get the picture. At this point I was getting mad at the Author, Libba Bray, for writing a third book, for ruining such a good tale. It wasn't until I was 25% into the book (remember, I read on kindle) that the storyline suddenly picked up and I found myself once again craving for more. So far I am still enjoying the book and I hope it will have a good end. I will of course edit this post once I finish with the series, so as to give you my final opinion on this series.

Edit: I finished the book a couple of days ago and I must say that the anger and annoyance I experienced at its beginning faded by the time I was turning the last pages. The end was realistic and fair, in my opinion. Now, I was still upset with Ann and Felicity by the end of the book, but all is well that ends well. Book 3 was also the longest book of the trilogy, but despite its somewhat dull first 25%, it was a good read overall.

My Final Rating: ★★★★

Nevertheless, I would recommend you this series if you are into romance, history and magical fiction. It is a good read overall, and it wouldn't be time wasted. Now, I am not guaranteeing you won't get upset or even frustrated at times (because I did), but I can tell you this: you will enjoy the ride. The way I judge a good book is by the emotions it can stir within you. If you feel something, then it was worth reading it. So do yourself a favor, pick up a copy next time you are book shopping :)
If you have read the series, did you enjoy it? If you haven't, would you read it?


  1. I admit... I've often looked at this series, mostly in airport bookshops (!) I'm not normally one for genre fiction of any kind, but particularly steer clear of fantasy as it's just not my thing. Still, thinking about it, I've enjoyed reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series and all of Dan Brown's books, so I don't see what should keep me away from these. The next time I'm on a flight, I'm going to pick one up! Thanks for the recommendation, Colette :)

  2. I understand. I like to read in general, so for me it's never a problem when it comes to picking a genre. I mostly go by the story line or the topic and see from there. As for this trilogy, I think you will enjoy it. Plus it is a perfect airplane read: quick and easy. If you do read it, I hope you'll let me know what you thought of it!


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