Rebel Angels

by Libba Bray

Paperback, 2006





Ember (2006), Edition: Reprint, 576 pages


Gemma and her friends from the Spence Academy return to the realms to defeat her foe, Circe, and to bind the magic that has been released.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

576 p.; 8.19 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member
The Gemma Doyle Trilogy is my favorite series. This book does not disappoint those those who have finished the first book and crave more of Gemma Doyle's adventures. The first book did not give me a chance to understand Gemma's character but this book remedies that. We learn all about Gemma's
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The book's setting is not at Spence and instead various houses around London. We also learn much more about Felicity's character and home life. From Ann, who doesn't really have a home life, we begin understanding a little more about her personality and insecurities. The only problem I had with character development is Felicity's attitude. Sure, she seems like a great girl sometimes and I have sympathy for her troubles, but sometimes she has such an attitude toward her friends I wonder why Gemma and Ann put up with it. Maybe Libba is building up to something. I hope so.

This book is constant heart-pounding action. Every page is filled with adventure and suspense. There wasn't a minute that something dull happened. A great read, and a real page-turner!
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LibraryThing member sensitivemuse
It is strongly recommended that you read A Great and Terrible Beauty first as it introduces you to the characters and the actual start of the big picture. I really enjoyed this book a lot more than the first one as I had so many unanswered questions left when I finished it which is why I rushed
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like mad to find Rebel Angels. It does a good job giving you more information on The Order and the Rakshana and their little magic world that's just behind "that door". So now with that good amount of information the plot in this book goes very smooth and combined with the action and mystery, it makes for a very good Victorian Gothic style book to read.

There is enough mystery and intrigue in this book to keep you guessing who's really the "bad guy" here and when you finally do figure it out you might probably feel a bit of shock at first because you thought you knew all along or you may not be surprised at all. It's hard to say. I had quite a few guesses but my first initial guess was wrong so I suppose it was a pleasant surprise for me. If I was right it would have been predictable and perhaps boring. However I liked how you were given options on who might be behind it all so chances are maybe it's meant to be written that way so it won't be so predictable.

Gemma is extremely more likable every time she opens her mouth or has a witty thought. If you liked her in the first book, you'll like her even more here. I liked her sense of independence and she did have this extra spark in her personality which made her stand out against the rest of the other characters. Speaking of wit, despite the real serious dark tones in the novel, there's little bits of comedy here and there that made me chuckle several times. I think it was because you can also hear what Gemma is thinking and some of the things that run in her head is actually quite funny (especially when Felicity and Ann decide to pick at her and laugh)

The ending of the novel leaves you with wanting more. You know that the fight isn't even over. They're just taking a break before the big one begins. If you have ever seen Lord of the Rings The Two Towers remember the ending? yeah, it feels like that. You know there's something big that's going to happen in the grand finale. I'm really looking forward to how this ends.
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LibraryThing member alana_leigh
So, remember how I said I wouldn't continue reading this series unless I stumbled upon a used copy of the next books? Well, I found one of Rebel Angels, the second in the series by Libba Bray, and I also had an afternoon where all I wanted was something easy to read that I could finish quickly.
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This fit the bill.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I liked the second novel any more than the first. I actually preferred the first, because this seemed to fall victim to the usual muddled second novel problems.

It is shortly before Christmas at Spence, a finishing school for girls in England, and everyone is getting ready to return to their homes for the holidays. Gemma is scheduled to head to London for Christmas with her grandmother, father, and brother; Felicity will also be in London with her father the Admiral and her mother, who is hosting the most popular ball of the Christmas season; and poor, orphaned Ann will be staying at Spence with the servants. It's been nearly two months since the girls learned about the Order, visited the Realms, and had their terrible encounter with Circe. This resulted in the death of their friend Pippa, who chose to remain in the Realms rather than face a loveless marriage and continue keeping her epilepsy a secret. While Felicity, Gemma and Ann miss her dearly, Gemma is unwilling to enter the Realms again for fear of what she'll find there, after having smashed the stones that kept the magic from flowing freely. It is only after a visit from Kartik (the young Indian man ordered to watch Gemma in the last novel by his own sect, the Rakshana) where he urges her to enter the Realms again to bind the magic in the Temple that Gemma and her friends attempt to return. Of course, what Gemma doesn't know is that Kartik has been ordered to help her find the Temple, bind the magic to the Rakshana instead of the Order, and then kill her. Kartik has mixed feelings on this last bit, seeing as he seems as conflictingly smitten with Gemma as she is with him.

Rather than separate the girls for the course of the narrative (which takes place entirely during the Christmas break), Felicity uncharacteristically invites Ann home with her for the holidays with the plan of spreading the rumor that Ann is really descended from Russian royalty. Before Gemma even makes it home from the train station, she meets Simon, a young aristocrat of good breeding. He's rumored to have a bit of a reputation as a ladies' man, but he seems rather open in his courtship of her. There are a number of other details that all come into play in terms of the narrative: Gemma's brother is desperately trying to break their father's addiction to laudanum (and later, opium) while home from his duties as a doctor at Bethlam Bedlam insane asylum; Gemma learns of a girl at Bethlam who might also have access to the Realms and know where to find the temple; there's concern over a new teacher at Spence who might know more than she lets on; Gemma meets up once again with Miss Moore, their old art teacher from Spence who lost her job as a result of Gemma and her friends; Felicity's family has taken on a new ward which irritates Felicity, though perhaps not for entirely selfish reasons; and while it might be nice to see Pippa again, Gemma is uncertain whether Pippa can be trusted, as souls in the Realms who do not cross over are usually corrupted. Of all these, the last is the most interesting, as Bray seems to have no problem turning beautiful Pippa into a rather terrifying creature before the book is over.

So as you can see, there's a lot of balls in the air and Bray tries her best to keep them all going. I found that there were a few too many scenes that didn't seem that necessary. One of which involved Gemma dressing up as a boy to pull her father out of an opium den. Perhaps the most irritating scene of all, though, took place at a ball when Simon persuades Gemma and her friends into trying absinthe... which unsurprisingly has a bad effect on Gemma, who already sees visions of ghostly things without any aid from substances. Exactly why we needed a scene where she starts screaming and Simon tries to calm her down, under the belief that she's screaming because of his rather forward behavior, I do not know. Nor do I know why Simon seems totally fine with her afterward, as I would imagine he'd be a little put off. Ultimately, however, I suppose the worst sin is that despite being a fantasy novel, I found that once again, I simply didn't find myself captivated by the Realms. All the fantasy and magic seemed too vague and not quite interesting for me. Ann is annoying, Felicity is a bit too brazen (though really, she's the one I mind least), and Gemma still doesn't seem like she's a heroine who is capable of bringing any kind of resolution to the Realms and the Order. She's not terribly bright and I still can't imagine her as being a proper redhead. And as if that wouldn't make her stand out enough, she has the whole childhood in India thing going for her and she still manages to be this shrinking violet. Ugh.

Despite all this, we know perfectly well that I'll finish the series, but I wish that I could hope for something better than the first two novels. Ah well.
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LibraryThing member _Zoe_
Blech. This is quite possibly the worst book I have ever read. The major plot twist is completely obvious about halfway through, and the rest of the book just drags on forever while the characters do stupid things.

I loved A Great and Terrible Beauty, but this one was a huge disappointment.
LibraryThing member eatcakes
Gemma is such an interesting character! Sometimes I wish that I could have a bit more of her; a more intense delving into who and what she is, but then I remind myself that I've got an imagination and I should use it! Can't wait for the last book in the series. I need the ending to this story.
LibraryThing member susanbevans
Rebel Angels is the second book in Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy. After reading the first book, A Great and Terrible Beauty, I wasn't all that excited to finish the series. I just felt that the book promised something that it couldn't entirely deliver. I'm really glad I gave the series a second
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chance though, because Rebel Angels was really terrific!

In this sequel, Gemma continues to pursue her destiny as the one who can bring order back to the realms. This book takes place over the winter break for Gemma and her friends Felicity and Ann. After Pippa's death in the first book, Gemma has been too frightened to return to the realms. Now she discovers that she is the only one who can bind the strong magic of the realms, and bring back balance. She must go back through the door of light and find the lost Temple.

But Gemma must be very careful along the way, not everything in the realms (or in the "real world" for that matter) can be trusted. Dark beings are vying for power, beings that refuse to be denied.

Rebel Angels has a complicated and twisting plot. In it we delve further into the magical world of the realms. We are introduced to more interesting characters: the gorgon, punished for her role in the uprising, bound to serve the Order for all time; the untouchables, creatures living in the forbidden Cave of Sighs; the evil poppy warriors, creatures who try to mislead the girls and capture the magic for themselves; and the water nymphs, who sing a siren's song to entrance the girls and steal their skin.

The story is a traditional Gothic terror/suspense, complete with Victorian setting, foggy, misty woods, and even a lunatic asylum. It is extremely well written, rich with imagery, passion, secrets and intrigue, and of course magic. Rebel Angels is a thoroughly enthralling novel, and I was spellbound from almost the first page. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book
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LibraryThing member mikitchenlady
In Rebel Angels, Bray takes us away from Spence Academy for most of the story, as Gemma, Felicity and Ann travel to London to celebrate the Christmas holidays. Of course, it wouldn't be the same if they didn't have to travel into the Realms to find out what's happening with Pippa. Plus, Kartik is
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back and has told Gemma she needs to bind the magic in order to keep Circe from getting access. And who is this new teacher, Miss McCleethy, and why does she seem to not like Gemma? And will Gemma's father get any better or will he remain addicted to laudunum as he morns the death of his wife.

In some ways I liked this middle volume better than the first, as we got to know more about the characters through their families, plus their travels into the Realms. Gemma also takes a bold stance here, as she is challenged to choose between the Rakshana and the Order, as to whom should be left in control of the magic. There are no easy answers here, and Gemma makes some interesting decisions in this book.

I began to dread their trips into the Realms, because I'm not so great at visualizing (a necessary skill to fully appreciate these parts), and because it was all to clear that this was the wrong thing to do, that the girls were playing with fire.

Not my favorite fantasy series, but more fun because of the female protagnoist/hero.
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LibraryThing member francescadefreitas
I liked this more than the first book, although I still wanted to smack Gemma repeatedly for being so, so blind. But seeing her home life made me a bit more sympathetic. And I didn't find as many anachronisms poking me in the eyeballs. Again I enjoyed the reading very much. Some bits were
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deliciously scary, indeed.
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LibraryThing member pacifickle
This book is the sequel to "A Great and Terrible Beauty." It's Xmas, and all the grrls are in London, causing trouble, using magic, attending fabulous balls and operas, and FINALLY, having big fat crushes. Gemma develops a fuller understanding of her friends- the fierce Felicity and plain Anne- as
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full individuals with strengths and weaknesses. Gemma herself also starts to question who she is as a person. She has quasi-sexual fantasies about Kartak, the Indian dude who stalks her and warns her to avoid the realms and magic altogether, and Simon Middleton, a super rich cutie who could provide for her and finally make her feel accepted in the social structure of Victorian England. I got the feeling this one wasn't the last in the series, so not all subplots are wrapped up at the end of this installment, but it's okay. I'll read the next one, too. This one really should only be read after "A Great and Terrible Beauty," but I liked the London setting better than boarding school, so this one's better.
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LibraryThing member Catnelson
Gemma and her friends from the Spence Academy return to the realms to defeat her foe, Circe, and to bind the magic that has been released.
LibraryThing member stephxsu
The literary sorceress Libba Bray enchanted us into Gemma Doyle’s scary-magic world with her brilliant debut novel, A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY. Did she suffer a sophomore slump as so many others have been known to do? Not at all. REBEL ANGELS is quite possibly even more exciting, confusing,
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mysterious, and alluring than the first.

Two months after the death of Pippa, who chose to eat the berries from the Realms and remain there, Christmas descends upon England and Spence Academy, where Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are still struggling to understand what is up with the Realms and the magic. A suspicious new teacher, Miss McCleethy, arrives in the middle of a stormy night, and Gemma has got a feeling that she’s up to no good. She unearths several clues at Spence and in London that seem to point to the fact that Miss McCleethy is Circe, the horrid monster who was a girl who bound herself to a Winterlands creature and is now pure evil.

But London is not just for investigation. Gemma meets the acquaintance of the charming Simon Middleton—a witty, handsome, and otherwise perfect gentleman, the kind she would be enchanted by if she were not in possession of such terrible and dark secrets. Gemma also befriends again Miss Moore, dismissed from Spence Academy after accusations that Gemma and her friends made against her. Together they try to discover the truth about Circe and to bind the magic before others who might mess with it get to it first.

However, no one is who they seem. Is Kartik, the Indian boy of the powerful group of men called the Rakshana tied to her destiny, whom Gemma cannot stop thinking inappropriate thoughts about, with her or against her? Who is really Circe? Can the remnants of the order even be trusted anymore? There seems to be no one Gemma can trust but herself, and that is how she must conquer the Winterlands creatures and contain the magic in the Realms.

REBEL ANGELS reveals more shocking secrets about its characters and more terrifying situations and environments, but it all makes sense in this character-driven novel. The characters are not perfect and they know that, or they must know that. Libba Bray’s second novel is an exultant declaration of femininity and the importance—and dangers—of alliances. This is a trilogy that must not be missed.
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LibraryThing member roses
Sequel to Great and Terrible Beauty!! Another fantastic piece!
LibraryThing member afrank9
Thrilling female heroine tale of magic and love. So extremely easy to get lost and consumed in the story.
LibraryThing member QueenAlyss
Good sequel to the first book, A Great and Terrible Beauty. It draws you into the magic again and you're left gasping for more of that wonderful world they have found.
LibraryThing member stephaniechase
While not quite as good as the first -- it is a tad repetitive -- I am still hooked.
LibraryThing member keltwister
I just finished this last night and my head is still spinning. I found the first one, A Great and Terrible Beauty interesting but not as riviting as some of my friends. Honestly, there were times I thought about putting it down. I'd just came off of the Twilight series so perhaps this great switch
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in storylines and setting was hard to adjust to. So when I bought the second one I opened it with a great sigh...hoping it would be a tad more interesting. I was pleased to see by just a few pages in I was hooked. The story takes place mostly in Victorian era London, so the setting is 10 times more intriguing! Without giving too much away, Gemma is faced of course with the task of sealing the magic within the realms before Circe finds Gemma and takes the magic for herself. The story twists and turns in ways I couldn't anticipate and ends in with a turn I didn't see coming (for this I'm extremely mad at myself). The character development in this story is greatly strengthend...we learn A LOT more about Gemma and Felicity and their families, are introduced to new characters and get to see old ones grow. Katrik is still pivitol to the storyline and I like how Libba Bray keeps the ties between Katrik and Gemma. This middle book in the series is strong and a GREAT read but won't want to put it down!
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LibraryThing member krau0098
I read the first book in this series (A Great and Terrible Beauty) and was surprised at how much I loved the book. I was really hoping that the sequel, Rebel Angels, would live up to my expectations; and guess what? It did!

Most of the book takes place during Christmas break with the girls back in
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London for the holidays. The girls are struggling to find the secret of Circe, figure out how to bind the magic that Gemma released in the first novel, and to discover what the deal is with the newest teacher at Spence. Of course there are struggles with family, potential suitors, etc thrown in with all of the mystery surrounding the Order. The book is well-written and fast-paced. It really kept me interested the whole way through. There is mystery, intrigue, magic, and romance all in perfect amounts. There is the intrigue of the girls' everyday lives woven into the deeper mystery involving the magic of the realms. Sometimes it seems like almost too much is going on but the book is written in a way that makes the events fast-paced rather than frantic.

New depth is added to the current characters. You find out more about Gemma, Ann, Felicity, and Kartik. This book is written in a lovely way and is a pleasure to read. It is a pretty quick read. For some reason I am always surprised at how much I love these books and this book left me again pleasantly surprised. I look forward to the next book in the series "A Sweet and Far Thing".
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LibraryThing member dmorrison
What a fantastic second book!!! Can't wait to get my hands on the third book!
LibraryThing member calexis
If you are fans of A Great and Terrible Beauty, you won't be disappointed with the sequel. And I love how it's set for Christmas time... what a perfect way to start my holidays. Anyways, about the book, I am going to admit that I still have the same conflicted emotions about the book as I did the
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first in the trilogy. I love Gemma Doyle. I think she's brave, stubborn and not like other girls. But her weakness seems to be the girls she calls her friends. It's true that eventually she will see the truth in them and usually does what she has to for the sake of everyone. But I feel as if Felicity and Ann have too much over her. Fee and Ann... are just not the sidekicks you imagine. True, they have a lot of redeeming points-- Fee has power in school, is spirited and lively. Ann ... honestly, at the moment, I can't seem to think of her redeeming points. Okay, she sings good.... gosh, that sounds weak. But the truth is... Fee and Ann gang up on Gemma a lot, forcing her to do things that usually lead them astray. So though they do help her out in the end, I get this uneasy feeling about them.
As for the rest of the characters, well, great job on that. I loved Gemma and Kartik's chemistry in this book. I thought Simon was charming until... proven otherwise. I loved Tom's better, professional and compassionate side. I loved Gemma's father despite his weaknesses. As for Ms. Cleethly and Ms. Moore... awesome! haha. I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read it yet. So there you have it. Hmm.. the paperback for The Sweet Far Thing isn't out till May of next year. Can I wait that long? I suppose I'll have to... I like books in a series to be of the same format.
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LibraryThing member pacey1927
"Rebel Angels" definitely doesn't suffer for 'sophomore slump". The book jumps off right where the first book left off. Gemma and her friends from Spence Academy are leaving school for home for the Christmas holiday. Bray cooks up a reasonable way for the three friends, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann to
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travel in the same circles over the holidays, and the girls easily can still partake in their travels to the magical realms. Bray also takes this chance to allow the readers a better glimpse into the family lives of these girls away from school. We see Gemma dealing in ways she shouldn't have to, with her father's drug abuse. We see a different,more appealing, and more understandable side of Gemma's brother Tom. We also learn what has shaped Felicity's life and why she is so hungry for power. Gemma is also courted by a noble gentleman, Simon Middleton, and she wonders at what her life would be like if she was 'normal', while at the same time her relationship to Kartik grows and changes. All of these plotlines were intriguing in their own right but much adventure and changes are found in the trips to the Realms as well. The girls are now tasked with finding the Temple, which is the cemter of magic in the Realms now and where they must go for Gemma to bind the magic. The end of the first book left with them winning a battle, but left the magic open to mis-abuse. There the see their lost friend Pippa, who is now scarily different. In fact, the beautiful place of the Realms from the past is slowly changing into a place much more sinister. The girls also get closer to finding out who Circe is and it may not be as obvious as it seems. The Order and the Rakshana are both after Gemma still too for their own purposes. There truly is not a boring page is to be found anywhere. The five hundred plus pages seemed to fly by. I found myself rooting even more for Gemma, I've come to really like her. Felicity keeps scaring me at time, I am not really sure if I trust her. Both her story and Ann's had me near tears because these girls have truly been through a lot. For a world so many years removed from us now, this series does a great job of nailing down the emotions and struggles of modern teenage girls. There is enough magic and paranormal to keep me intrigued but this is a series that wouldn't be nearly as unforgettable if the author hasn't done such an amazing job at fleshing out her characters.
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LibraryThing member chosler
Gemma, Felicity, and Ann spend their Christmas holidays in London, mixing society balls and dinners with trips to the Realms, in search of the Temple, the source of magic, in order to bind the magic and keep it from Circe. Gemma also must balance her father’s opiate addiction, interest from
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high-society Simon, and her feelings for her helper/ assassin Kartik. Minor profanity, mild sexual feelings, violence, including several deaths, and brief discussion of Felicity’s sexual abuse by her father. Ages 14+.
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LibraryThing member booksandbosox
Really good book. This series is very readable and enjoyable. Gemma is a bit irritating in her naive need for approval by Felicity and Ann's modesty about her singing is a bit tedious. I thought I had figured this all out and it was getting a bit predictable and then - BAM! Threw a curveball at me.
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Really refreshing twist there. I don't love the scandal with Kartik or Simon Middleton. I think this series is better when focusing on the girls and not their social exploits. But I'm still very much looking forward to book three!
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LibraryThing member roseysweetpea
I found the second installment in Gemma's story just as engaging as the first. Though I had already figured out the major plot twist, it was still intriguing to watch the characters unravel the mystery. As Gemma grows, she has more social challenges to deal with as well as her own special gift and
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that really humanizes her. It makes you wonder, how would I deal with living that double life? I can't wait to read the third and final (to my knowledge) book and see how it is all going to end.
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LibraryThing member vanedow
“This book was excellent for a second-of-a-series. If you liked the first one, I'm going to guess you'll like this one even more. It was the kind of book that just pulled me right in, leaving me literally speaking out loud to the characters. "Don't do that, you idiot!"

Felicity and Ann drove me a
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little crazy with their annoying ways, especially in the first half of the book. Why on earth does Gemma hang out with these people, anyway? But I love the way the Kartik storyline is going. I'll definately be reading the final book.
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LibraryThing member mrsdwilliams
Second in the Gemma Doyle trilogy.

When she held Circe at bay and destroyed the runes at the end of A Great and Terrible Beauty, Gemma loosed the power of the realms and made the magic available to anyone in the realms.

Now she has been given the task to find the Temple and bind the magic. Kartik and
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the Order have their own plans for the magic of the realm and Gemma finds herself caught between them.

Meanwhile, Circe is still on the loose and Pippa refuses to pass as she should. Dark things are awakening within the realms and fighting to control the magic. As Gemma struggles to set things right, she has only the ravings of a mad girl to guide her.

Set against the backdrop of Victorian society, this gothic tale combines historical fiction with fantasy. Readers will be riveted by this well-paced mystery filled with authentic details of Victorian life.
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