A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray, is about four girls that share a spectacular secret.
The book is set in Victorian times, in London. The main character, Gemma attends a boarding school named Spence Academy, after her mothers tragic death from... cholera. (but it was really a murder-don't worry, I didn't give anything away; that's in the first chapter.) The school's aim to turn rambunctious teens into proper ladies to be married off... the sooner the better. Charm, grace, and beauty, thats their motto.
Gemma is roomed with Ann, a quiet girl who is going to Spence to be made into a governess; she has no money and no family. They are the outcasts, the unwanted, the lower class. The 'ruler of the older girls', Felicity, and her amazingly beautiful accomplice in crime, Pippa, REALLY hate Gemma and Ann. But when Gemma finds out a secret about Felicity that she could easily use against her, they immediately become 'friends'. When the new found foursome find a diary of a former student named Mary Dowd, they began to meet at midnight in a cave to read from it.
Now I must inform you, Gemma is no ordinary girl. She has visions, she can see things that somewhere in the future come true. She is different.
Mary Dowd, they soon figure out, has powers, too. Along with Sarah Rees-Toome. They, with the help of some unknown group of sorceresses called the Order, can travel to a realm between worlds. Its a place where anything can happen. If you close your eyes and want a butterfly, there's a butterfly. This realm is between our world, and where the dead go for afterlife. The four girls, Gemma, Felicity, Ann, and Pippa, travel to this world through a door of light, created by them all, but mostly Gemma. She is the one with the real power, the one thats taking them to this realm. But when an old family foe is searching for Gemma, she must fight her off, and save the power of the realms and restore the Order.
As the lies and secrets unravel into truths, Gemma is shocked to find out some awful things. Murders, power-crazed school-girls, and more.
A Great and Terrible Beauty was a '"curl-up-under-the-covers-" book. I enjoyed reading it at EVERY moment. Libba Bray is such a talented author; she conveys ideas so that you are always surprised... but in a good way. A very good way.
The only thing I did not enjoy about this book was Ann. I really liked her character, which is why I wish she stood up for herself more, fought for what she believed in. She needs more confidence, Libba.
Other than that I loved the characters! I loved how Felicity was strong and brave. Pippa was a bit conceited, but it made it funny to read. Gemma was so clever, and I really connected to her. She is scared of many things, and very confused. Another character I really loved was Mrs. Hester Moore. She is so creative, especially compared to the other teachers at Spence Academy.
All in all, this is one of my favorite books ever written. If you haven't already, you need to read this!!!
And... I just found out they are making a movie to be released in 2010!