Rebel Angels, by Libba Bray (Delacorte Press, 2005)

In the sequel to A Great And Terrible Beauty, life for Gemma Doyle and her friends goes on. Circe’s monster has been destroyed, the magic of the Realms has been released from the crystals which bound it, and Pippa lies dead and buried, a victim of Circe’s evil machinations. At first, Gemma refuses to use her gift to travel back into the magical Realms, but events soon conspire to make her change her mind. After all, there’s still way too much she doesn’t know about the Realms, or the secretive Order, or the evil Circe. As the students of Spence disperse for the Christmas season, Gemma, Felicity and Ann meet up in London, where they alternate their normal social activities with much stranger pursuits, returning to the realms where they’re reunited with Pippa’s spirit.

Things get more and more complicated, as Gemma continues to explore the past, finding out just how the Order, the Realms, and the cult known as the Rakshana all relate to one another. As Gemma travels further into the Realms in search of the lost Temple, where she alone can rebind the freed magic, she’ll have to deal with strained friendships and betrayals, dark secrets and sinister mysteries, and Circe herself. But who is Circe, and how close has she come to our heroes while in disguise? And can Gemma ever really trust Kartik, who claims to help her, yet who loyally serves the Rakshana? In the end, Gemma will be forced to make some very important decisions about who will control the magic and the Realms. No matter what, she’ll have some powerful enemies to contend with.

Rebel Angels is the continuation of Libba Bray’s stunning Victorian tale of magic, mystery, and maturation. Quite a few questions are answered, but more are raised as Gemma follows her path of self-discovery and growth, and we learn a lot more about the Order and the Rakshana, who appears to be two sides to the same coin. Of course, this just sets the stage for the next book in the series, in which Gemma will finish what she’s started. Mark my words, this really is quite an excellent series. Take just a little Harry Potter, and quite a bit more Little Princess, throw in as much Victorian sensibility, social dichotomy, and repressed sensuality as possible, shake and stir. Bray takes full advantage of her setting to really play up the social conventions, gender-biased double standards, rampant mysticism, and restrained chaos that comes to mind when we think of Victorian England, and uses it all to tell a powerful story. I can hardly wait to see what comes next.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>