|Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: December 26, 2006
My Source: Library
Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain. . . .The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship. But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. -(summary from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts: When I began the first book in this series, A Great and Terrible Beauty, I was not sure I was going to like it. It took me quite a few pages into the book before I was able to gain some interest, and even then, I still wasn’t sure if the book was for me. By the end of the book, however, I thought the plot was very interesting and I could not wait to grab the second one and see what was next for Gemma Doyle. With Rebel Angels, I was interested right away and my interest was held throughout the story. In fact, this is one case for me where the sequel proved better than the original story.
Still fairly new to Spence Academy after being raised in India, this will be Gemma’s first Christmas in London. The holiday season is filled with parties and teas and visits with friends, and even a budding courtship with the handsome Simon Middleton. It seems that Gemma has left the Realms and their magic behind for now…until the mysterious Kartik soon appears and tells Gemma that she will need to return to the Realms to find a hidden temple and bind loose magic to keep it from falling into the wrong hands and causing chaos in the world. So Gemma grabs her friends Ann and Felicity, and they head back into the Realms to search for the hidden temple before it is found by anyone else.
Rebel Angels flowed very well from A Great and Terrible Beauty. Any loose ends or questions that may have been left after the first book were tied up and answered with this one. I love the way all of the characters were again present in this book, with the addition of a few new ones. The plot had a lot of twists and turns, but it worked for me. I wish I was a little more certain of exactly what is going on with the elusive and mysterious Kartik. His role certainly added to the plot in this book, but also leaves a few questions unanswered for the next book.
I loved how Ms. Bray used the language and imagery to paint the picture of the Victorian holiday in London, particularly with the description of the holiday party attire. It was charming, as well, to be able to learn a little bit more about Felicity’s life outside of Spence Academy and exactly how desperate Ann was for a life outside of the servitude for which she is predestined. I also appreciated how the author wrote about the Realms in a much broader sense in this novel. Ms. Bray had to write about a much larger area as Gemma, Ann, Felicity, and Pippa traveled a much larger distance through the Realms in search of the temple. It is hard to decide if the description of the landscape or of the creatures inhabiting the Realms was more interesting; all in all, I enjoyed the Realms much more in this book than I did in the first book. I love the way Ms. Bray left a large area of land unexplored for the final book in this series.
Despite being fairly dark, I think Rebel Angels is a beautiful book (with a stunning cover). Where I was not certain if I would like A Great and Terrible Beauty when I began it, I was certain I would love Rebel Angels from the first page. I have high hopes that I will love the conclusion of the trilogy when I read it as well. I recommend this book adults and young adults that love Victorian novels and fantasy stories with intricate plots. It is really well-written and quite lovely.