Plot: Gemma has taken all the magic of the realms into herself and has promised to create an alliance to share the magic equally. But now that the time is upon her, she is hesitant. She doesn’t know who to trust anymore. Her enemies are using her family against her, Kartik has disappeared without a trace and Gemma has started having dreams about a murdered young woman. The woman is trying to warn her about something but she has no idea what. Her time at Spence is almost up and her coming out is almost upon her. It should be the happiest moment of her life but she is too busy trying to find a place for herself and her friends in this world and in the realms. She is too busy trying to survive the plots of those who would control her power.
This is the last volume in the Gemma Doyle series and by far the largest at over 800 pages. I was hesitant to get started on it with all the other novels that have piled up but ultimately I couldn’t resist. Bray has completely charmed me with her version of Victorian England and her very real, very flawed characters. I didn’t not for a minute think the book was too long (only too heavy). I needed to know if and how they get through their adventures in the end. I won’t spoil anything but I will say that Bray is not afraid to hurt her characters for the sake of the story. And that’s a good thing, it makes the story all the more exciting and suspenseful.
I still occasionally got a bit frustrated with the selfish and thoughtless was the girls dealt with their powers and the trouble it ultimately led to; they didn’t seem to have learned from their mistakes in the previous two books or matured at all. But even so, in spite of their flaws and mistakes, I cared for these girls and for what would happen to them and that kept me reading. I found the ending a little too open-ended to fully satisfy me but the journey there was more than worth it.
If you are teaching, this book (and those before it) is a great starting point to discuss many of the social issues of the period (most of which continue to be relevant today) such as race, class and the position of women. Bray doesn’t shy away from these problems and she doesn’t ignore them to make her narrative easier (the problems of class and race in the relationship between Gemma and Kartik are a good example of this). There is even a reader’s guide at the end to help you get started.
In the mean time, enjoy the book trailer: