Wednesday, December 5, 2012
After releasing the magic of the realms in A Great and Terrible Beauty, Gemma must now find the Temple and bind the magic, but she doesn't know who to trust. Just before Christmas break is set to begin, a new teacher, Miss McCleethy joins Spence and seems to both loathe and like Gemma, but she has bigger issues, like the three strange girls that come to her in visions and watching Pippa become more and more a part of the realms. Once the girls finally go to London, Felicity takes Ann with her, concocting a story that she is the long-lost cousin of Russian royalty, a lie that works only for a time. The girls also seek out Miss Moore for more help and knowledge of the Order, and how to possibly find the Temple. Gemma catches another break in the form of a girl committed to the sanatorium, Nell Hawkins, who speaks in riddles and codes to teach Gemma the way to the Temple. Outside the realms, the girls attend dances, operas and enjoy all types of Christmas celebrating, and all the while Gemma is being courted by the handsome Simon Middleton. All in all, this book is full to bursting, and not only nicely wraps up some questions, but leaves readers ready to seek out the final book.
I was alternately pleased and disappointed in this book. There seemed to be some points that didn't quite work for me. For instance, in the first book, Felicity's mother is gone, she's in Paris and had been for quite some time, making it seem like she had left Felicity and her father entirely. However, she is a staple in this book, seemingly only run off to Paris for a month or so, not three years. Her easy placement in this volume was upsetting to me, and it was something that I could not quite get over.
On the other hand, Miss McCleethy and Miss Moore were characters that really kept you guessing. I felt all along that Miss Moore could not be the good character, but the book kept leading me to that conclusion, even though I felt like she had to be the enemy. Libba Bray did an excellent job of keeping the readers guessing on those two, so much so that you still have a hard time believing what you'd suspected all through the book.
Also, the treatment of Pippa was heartbreaking. I have a feeling that she will have a big role in the next book, and that it will be a defining part of the story, especially for Felicity.
Time for my two biggest questions: Expiration Date and Sequel Slump. Historical fiction is wildly popular, as is supernatural fiction, and this blending is pretty masterful, so I think that this trilogy can be sold to lovers of both genre. Bray has proven again and again that she has a talent for writing, winning multiple awards for this series. And that is quite a victory since it is often hard to get recognition for a sequel. I would say that Rebel Angels stands up against A Great and Terrible Beauty, so this is not a slump at all.
Now, if only I could read The Sweet Fair Thing before I have to read my book club book for next week. But there's no way I can finish both by next Thursday. Although, I do have to return Rebel Angels to the library, so it would just be silly to not check out The Sweet Fair Thing, and if it would happen to fall open, I couldn't be blamed for reading it, and from there it's all Libba Bray's fault for writing such an engrossing, captivating book. So, really it's all Libba Bray's fault that I won't get the reading done for book club. That's how I'm going to justify it anyway.