Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Edition: Paperback: 2003
Back Cover Summary: Gemma Doyle isn’t like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoken to, who remember their station, and who will lie back and think of England when it’s required of them.
No, sixteen-year-old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds a chilly reception. But she’s not completely alone…she’d been followed by a mysterious young man, who warns her to close her mind against the visions.
For it’s at Spence that Gemma’s power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school’s most powerful girls and discovers her mother’s connection to a shadowy group called the Order. It’s there that her destiny waits…if only she can believe in it.
The first thing that stood out to me about this book was the cover. It instantly hit me as a book I would enjoy reading. It looked to be in a time period I love and the girl on the cover had red hair just like me. :) (Ohhh! When things are simple.)
High Notes: It definitely turned out to be in a time period I love! (Victorian England) so that was a giant plus for me. But would it follow up with equally interesting characters? Yes, it did. Gemma is a very interesting character. She goes from a rather carefree adventurer, loved by her family, to a motherless young woman who has been dumped off at a boarding school for girls, inhabited by stuck up prisses (some of which you grow to love or hate), surrounded by woods full of gypsies, and smothered in dark secrets. Oh! And there is a secret portal to another world that only Gemma can open! From the very start I was intrigued and continued to be all the way until the third book (which slowed down quite a bit, but picked up in the end, thankfully.)
There is also a pretty good love story between Gemma and one of the gypsy boys.
Low Notes: As intriguing as the “other” world may sound, the real world was actually more interesting. In the other world, Gemma and her friends have powers, which they spend conjuring butterflies and flowers. (This is not a joke. Butterflies and flowers. Wouldn’t you do something else if you had powers?) Every now and then, they venture from a relatively safe meadow to other parts of the world and encounter interesting creatures, but other than that, it’s rather boring. I very much preferred when the girls were in the real world, running from a secret order, uncovering the past of the boarding school, avoiding embarrassing marriage proposals, and getting out of all the trouble they found themselves in.
Character Development: 4.5/5
Believability: 3/5 (I would give it a five if the whole book was based solely in the “real” world, but the “other” worldly stuff was ridiculous for the most part. Butterflies and flowers!)
Style and Grammar: 5/5
Overall Rating: 86% Fascinating!