Saturday Showcase (July 27)

Saturday Showcase is a weekly event hosted here at The In-Between Place which features books that you wish more people had read (or, at least, heard about). This week’s featured book is A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1) by Libba Bray.

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

A Great and Terrible Beauty introduced me to the world of young adult literature, and is one of the main reasons that I love historical fiction. It has everything: Victorian England (corsets and all!), boarding school, magic, visions, and swoon-worthy Gypsies.

What are some of your favourite underrated books? Leave me a list or a link to your post in the comments below.
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4 Comments

  • I love this series, Erin! Great choice for your showcase! I am a sucker for a school story, to be honest! One of my favourite underrated books is Pure, by Joanna Baggott, and its sequel Fuse. These are pretty hard core post-apoc books, set in the most terrifying, desolate landscape I’ve encountered in my post-apocalyptic obsession so far. They’re classed as YA, due to the age of the characters, but the themese are pretty disturbing. Still, fantastic reads, and I can’t wait for the final book in the trilogy!

    • Thanks, I’m so glad you liked it! Boarding school stories are some of my favourites. I’m not sure if it’s because my public school experience was so different from it or if it’s because they make the story more realistic, but either way they usually make for an excellent read!

      I haven’t actually heard of that series before. I love post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels though, so I’ll definitely have to add it to my to-read list! : )

  • Hi Erin! My favourite novel that I think is underrated is probably Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. It’s a fantasy story and is about a society that accommodates dragons as well as humans (to be brief) – it’s quite quirky and different but I love it all the same.
    Although I’ve heard about A Great and Terrible Beauty, I still haven’t picked it up so I guess that will be my next read!
    P.S I absolutely love your blog 🙂

    • I haven’t actually gotten around to reading Seraphina yet! I’ve spent so much time staring at its lovely cover when I’m at the library, but for some reason, it has yet to make its way home with me. I love quirky books and dragons (even though they all remind me of either Toothless or Drogon, haha) so I’ll have to bump this up to the top of my to-read list!
      Yay, I hope you like it as much as I did!
      Thank you so much! : )

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