Rebel Angels is Libba Bray's latest book. It is a companion to A Great and Terrible Beauty.
Is it really more a companion than a sequel? It's hard for me to judge, since I did read (and love) AGATB. I think RA does indeed stand alone... but I also lent RA to my sister and will let you know if she comes back confused or satisfied.
The Plot: OK, it was really difficult to try to explain the plot in a few sentences. I've written and deleted for the last ten minutes. Here's my best try, and yes I'm leaving a lot out: It's Christmastime in Victorian England, where Gemma attends an exclusive boarding school. But Gemma isn't your typical Victorian teen. Part of her being different is she was born and raised in India; part is because of her mother's tragic death the prior year. But she also possesses magic; she can go from our world into a realm of magic full of myth and beauty. And something dark and dangerous has gotten loose, and it's up to Gemma to try to save and protect both the magic realms and our world.
The Good: RA is full of historic details, so while magic is afoot RA is also a solid work of historical fiction.
And, thank you Libba Bray, the world of magic is fully realized. It is originally an escape for Gemma and her friends, but it becomes clear that the realm of magic is as complex, and full of contradictions, as is our own world.
Whenever the girls go into the other realm, I am reminded of the movie Heavenly Creatures. (except, of course, no brutal murder of parents. And in RA it's not fantasy, it's real. But HC shows just how attractive this type of escape is to teenage girls.)
Also good is that Gemma is far from perfect. She is impatient, judgmental, she wants friends. She's impulsive. She likes a bit of fun. She's not sure of the right answers. She's fumbling. But she is also take action girl, and she's brave, and she's loyal. And she values the truth.
The Cynsations (Cynthia Leitich Smith) interview is here. It's interesting because Bray discusses her inspiration, the writing process, favorite books... and mentions Buffy. Plus, she's funny.
NaNoWriMo total wordcount: 1965. Just over 48,000 to go!
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