Post by Mark T. Locker.
Gemma Doyle is a typical teenage girl in some respects. Frustrated at the lack of personal control over her life, irritated with her mother over minor things, annoyed she has to remain in Bombay while her brother and father are in exciting Victorian London. But while out on her sixteenth birthday, her mother is relayed a mysterious message about someone named Circe and sends Gemma home. Next thing she knows, Gemma is having a vision of her mother committing suicide, which, though unlikely, turns out to be true. Gemma is flung into a strange new world of visions, magic, and grief. When she returns to London, she learns she is to attend Spence Academy for Young Ladies, a finishing school near London. In grief, Gemma’s father has turned to laudanum and cannot care for Gemma.
At the Academy, which her mother had also attended, Gemma begins to learn more about her mother and about herself. Her mother was apparently a priestess in The Order, an ancient group dedicated to preserving the order of magic in the world. Along with her new friends Felicity Worthington, Pippa Cross and Ann Bradshaw, Gemma learns that she has her own unique powers, such as the ability to travel into The Realms, a magical land between life and death. It is a beautiful and dangerous place where your dreams may be realized but your nightmares can too.
Not an easy book to summarize! This is just the tip of the iceberg. Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray has done a fantastic job writing in a proper Victorian young lady’s voice, with all the snarky little asides one might expect from a teenager trying, not always successfully, to be a proper young lady. There are three books in the series so if you like magic, intrigue, and historical fiction, this will keep you entertained for a while.