Dear Library Patrons, The mission of NYPL is to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities. Government support only pays for a portion of our work, so we rely on you to help - from stocking our shelves with amazing books, expanding our e-Book selection, classes, events, or even making free WiFi accessible to all. We are trying to raise $500,000 by December 31: an ambitious goal, but one that will fund incredible learning and reading in our community. Please consider donating to help keep our services free to all New Yorkers in 2015 >>


A Great and Terrible Beauty

Bray, Libba

(Paperback - 2005)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
A Great and Terrible Beauty
After the suspicious death of her mother in 1895, sixteen-year-old Gemma returns to England, after many years in India, to attend a finishing school where she becomes aware of her magical powers and ability to see into the spirit world.
Publisher: New York : Delacorte Press, 2005
ISBN: 0385732317
Branch Call Number: FIC B
Characteristics: 403 p. ; 21 cm.


From Library Staff

Set at the end of the Victorian era in 1895. Haunted by her mother's death and plagued by psychic visions, Gemma Doyle is shipped from India to a dreary boarding school in England. Once there she must contend with mean girls, mystical visions, a secret Order and a mysterious young Indian man who ... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Oct 17, 2014
  • GhostWriterAt221B rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

An average, cliche novel... dull, yet some unseen force didn't allow me to put it down! The characters are bland, deranged in some horrific yet amusing way, and the book is overall... disturbing.

Aug 30, 2014
  • maroon_cat_89 rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

this was a really good book but the plot needs some work along with the climax

Jul 09, 2014
  • skyxhimea rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

While writing in present tense can be extremely annoying to read, especially in a book with a historical setting, Libba Bray pulls it off beautifully. Each character starts off with less than obvious problems but later grows and develops into her own unique person. Like real people, they learn, grow, and continue living. All in all, it's a great read if you want a book you can ruminate on.

Jul 06, 2014
  • Stephanie_Sibbald rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I felt that the essence of the plot was recycled: girl goes to boarding school discovers she's a witch/discovers she can see ghost/discovers she has a doppelganger. Nevertheless, what makes this book different than the others is the time period, and the struggles that accompany it. I also liked the main character of Gemma Doyle who was strong and persuasive. I won't read any sequels, but there are still some pieces to complete the story.

Jul 05, 2014
  • Wonderland98 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is my favorite book of all time. If you enjoy fantasy then you have to read this book. I could not put this book down. I can't write to much because I hate spoilers but the action does start in the first two chapters. The only downfall with this book is that only girls will enjoy it.

Jan 30, 2014
  • JCLMelodyMK rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed reading about Gemma and how she learned that she wanted to be a person in her own right making her own decisions. I enjoyed the paranormal elements.

I thought this book was about an outsider throwing over the popular girls. But it was so much more, and I'm so glad I read it. Brilliant plot and characters!

Nov 21, 2013
  • LaPhenixa rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I had a really hard time getting into the present tense at times, but what really killed me was characters acting out of character in order to move the plot along. There were many times I found myself asking "why the heck would you do that!?" through gritted teeth.
That being said, the characters did feel very much alive and I did enjoy the imagery. I liked also the underlining themes in the novel as well.
Overall, a not entirely negative experience, but I do not think I'll be reading any sequels.

Oct 07, 2013
  • JCLKinsleyR rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I devoured this series, one right after the other. The dress on the cover drew me in and the talk of dances and debuts won me over. I was surprised to enjoy the fantasy side of the other realms.

Jun 03, 2013
  • mbssmith rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I finished this book a few days ago, and it was pretty good. I really liked the characters, but there are more than one weird deer scenes...

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

Aug 16, 2012
  • agent391 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

agent391 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Aug 03, 2011
  • KKPGIRL rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

KKPGIRL thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

May 29, 2010
  • liz_z2 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

liz_z2 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Dec 06, 2009
  • swishandflick rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

swishandflick thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add a Quote

Dec 02, 2013
  • re_discover rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

"All the small, simple, conscious acts of living [are] a sudden defense against the dying we do every day" (397).

Dec 02, 2013
  • re_discover rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Gemma (thought): "Let's draw the curtains and stay in, warm and safe, away from the uncertain woods" (204).

Dec 02, 2013
  • re_discover rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Miss Moore: "Your mind is not a cage. It's a garden. And it requires cultivating" (128).

Aug 16, 2012
  • agent391 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

What frightens you? What makes the hair on your arms rise, your palms sweat, the breath catch in your chest like a wild thing caged? Is it the dark? A fleeting memory of a bedtime story, ghosts and gobins and witches hiding in the shadows? Is it the way the wind picks up just before a storm? Or is it something deeper, something much more frightening, a monster deep inside that you've glimpsed only in pieces, the vast unknown of your own soul where secrets gather with a terrible power, the dark inside?


Add a Summary

Aug 13, 2008
  • Kate Anna Burnham rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Gemma Doyle is sent to London after her mother's mysterious death. Suddenly Gemma recieves visions. Then she meets an Indian Boy named Kartik whom is from a clan called the Rakshana. He tells her to close her visions, but Gemma cannot as it's the only way to contact her mother.


Add a Notice

Jul 16, 2010
  • BlackPhoenix rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

Find it at NYPL


Other Formats

Buy It Now

Support your library, keep it forever!

View Purchase Options Learn more about this program

Your Cart

Hello! We noticed you have the following items in your cart right now:

If you'd still like to purchase the items you have in your cart, you can do that now.

You'll be able to purchase your eBook after you have checked out your current cart.

A Great and Terrible Beauty
Bray, Libba
A Great and Terrible Beauty

To continue with your eBook purchase immediately, you can clear your cart by clicking below.

All items will be removed from your cart.

I'd like to keep browsing! I'll decide later.

Explore Further

Browse the Shelf

Subject Headings



Powered by BiblioCommons.
app10 Version gurli Last updated 2014/12/09 10:52