A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Although Libba Bray has become a well-known YA writer in recent years, her first book is what started her on the road to greatness. Gemma Doyle, sixteen years old, has been raised by her parents in India, but when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is sent to a British boarding school. She immediately becomes harrassed by the school’s popular “mean girls,” but begins making friends with them when they realize she has special powers that let them explore an mystical realm with her. Somehow this is connected to what happened to her mother in the Indian bazaar where she died, but readers will only find out by being patient the exact nature of the other world and Gemma’s place within it. When the girls find the diary of Mary Dowd, who is said to have died in a fire, they begin the unravel the dark secrets of the school and Gemma’s connection to them.
This is an exciting read, full of twists and turns. Bray does a good job developing the personalities of the girls so the readers worry for them as they take more and more dangerous risks. This is the first of a trilogy and I am assured that the other books are just as engaging.
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