A Great and Terrible Beauty is a historical fiction/fantasy novel that takes place in the 1890s in England and centers on Gemma, a fifteen-year-old girl who witnesses her mother’s murder and discovers within herself secret powers which are at the heart of the mystery surrounding her mother’s death. Exciting!
This book started off a bit slow for me and I thought I would end up being disappointed, but by chapter thirteen the book took hold and I couldn’t put it down. The magic in the story is interwoven skillfully and very believable. I also like the relationships between Gemma and the other teenaged girls in the novel. (and I love the twist at the end!)
I did have some issues with the India chapter of the book (descriptions felt unoriginal) and with the character not really sounding like she grew up there (like when she compares someone to the cold winters in Wales when she’s supposedly never been there in winter or when she reacts strongly to the poverty in England but never really talks about what it’s like only seeing white people in England).
But all in all, I really enjoyed the book and am even thinking about reading the sequels!