Although Bray's follow-up to A Great and Terrible Beauty feels a bit like a bridge between the launch and the next installment in her series, fans of the author's first novel will nonetheless remain enthralled by Gemma Doyle's latest adventure. In the first chapter, narrated by Kartik, the handsome Rakshana novitiate with whom Gemma flirted in the last book, members of his brotherhood give him a charge: to find the Temple within the realms, secure its power for the Rakshana and then kill Gemma. Gemma then narrates the balance of the novel, as classmates Felicity and Ann set forth to locate the Temple in order to bind up the realms' powers (unleashed when Gemma destroyed the runes at the close of the last book). However, they discover that the runes' destruction has set the magic in chaos; classmate Pippa (trapped in the realms in the last book) looks more beautiful than ever-why did she not have "to cross"? Can she be trusted? Such questions of trust plague Gemma. What is Kartik's motive in signing on as her father's driver? Plus, a mysterious new teacher arrives who may or may not be Circe (whom Gemma blames for her mother's death), and Gemma's brother, who works at a mental hospital, leads the teen to a patient who may know how to locate the Temple. Gemma's and Ann's love interests, meanwhile, further mine the theme of Victorian class and society. Bray provides a satisfying ending, yet she implies a further struggle for power. Fans will want to stay tuned. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gr 8 Up-The sequel (Delacorte, 2005) to Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty (Delacorte, 2003; Listening Library, 2004) takes up 17-year-old Gemma Doyle's adventures above ground, in Victorian London, and below in the magical Realms, just days after the first book ended. Narrator Josephine Bailey remains consistent and inspired in the range of accents and tones she provides for Gemma, her posh friend Felicity, their whiney classmate Ann, the mysterious and sensual Indian youth Kartik, and the newly introduced characters that include a suspicious new teacher and a patient at London's famous Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam). Those unfamiliar with the prequel to the current adventures may find themselves a bit lost at the outset, but the flurry of immediate events will soon catch them up as Gemma works feverishly to understand how she can bind the magic running loose in the Realms, whether Kartik is her ally or her deadly opponent, and if her father's moodiness is an expression of the continuing grief at her mother's death or an opiate habit. Added to these Gothic matters is the fact that Gemma must come to terms with her feelings for the young man who pays her court during the Christmas holidays she's spending away from finishing school and in her grandmother's house. Bray realizes the time period not only in her skillfully embedded descriptions of sounds, textures, and smells, but also by evoking the social framework within which Gemma must move, at least while above ground. The Realms, on the other hand, include both other worldly beauty and ghastliness, befitting of hallucinations. Gemma proves her strength and her charity in both arenas.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.