A Strange and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle #1) – Libba Bray

Great and Terrible BeautyWhat a strange book. It kept me entertained, but as I sit here thinking about it, more and more stuff keeps popping into my mind. First, the good.

OK, this cover? Gorgeous, and really the thing that made me read the book. I am a sucker for a corset. The other books in the series have covers that are just as beautiful, too.

I really liked the beginning, stories set in India are fascinating to me ever since I read Pomp and Circumstance (which is completely trashy, don’t judge please). The narrator, Josephine Bailey, was extremely good, giving each character a distinct voice (I love it when they’re able to do that, and so few narrators bother/are able to). Her English accent was really pleasant, and her Indian accent was awesome. Browsing through her narration work, it looks like she does a lot of Tudor-type novels, which I’m going to interpret as us having the same reading interests, meaning we’d be the best of friends in real life. I should really start keeping a list of narrators I love, because I always forget to go back and check out what else they’ve done. Like Bronson Pinchot. MAN, he’s good.

Ok, now the bad.After the first few chapters, suddenly we’re in a totally different book. Alas, right after all the Indian stuff, suddenly we’re in an english boarding achool that is filled with a bunch of bitches. Its like, Gossip Girl set in the 1800s. Totally not the book I signed up for. At first Gemma seemed like a good strong willed character, but she sort of devolves into a weak-willed follower intent only on getting Felicity to like her. The story progression was slow and seemed to concentrate too much on the boarding achool girls – I feel like her Indian stalker dude and her mother’s death took a backseat to descriptions of Pippa’s whining. This was also one of those books where I had a hard time figuring out what the theme was – was it feminism? Straight up magic like I’d thought originally? How mean girls can be? And BTW, what’s with the weird lesbian undertones?

Overall, I enjoyed this one, and here I go into the second book of the series!

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