Well, Merry Christmas to me, as the sequel I’ve personally been waiting for all year (no, not Deathly Hollows or Edward vs. Jacob, Round Two) was gifted to me several days before it’s December 26th on sale date, allowing me to gift YOU in return with this review of the sumptuous Sweet Far Thing, the third volume of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle Trilogy (which begins with A Great and Terrible Beauty) At the end of Rebel Angels, angsty Victorian teen Gemma was able to bind the magic of the Realms to herself to keep it out of the hands of the warring Realms tribes. Her goal was to eventually unite the tribes by sharing the magic with all of them. But the longer Gemma holds the magic, the harder it is to think of giving it up, especially when it allows her a freedom in her own world that she used to be able to enjoy only in the Realms. She can create illusions that alter her physical appearance, and that of BFFs Felicity and Ann, frighten away unwelcome suitors, and even cause snippy schoolmates to crash and burn during their ballet recitals. But while Gemma is using her power to play dress-up with Felicity and Ann, Realms folk are running amok, fighting and even killing each other to try and force Gemma’s hand. Meanwhile, Mrs. Nightwing is rebuilding the cursed East Wing in order to reopen the portal to the Realms, Circe may or may not have actually been neutralized, The Rakshana are threatening Gemma’s brother’s life, Pippa’s gone lulu (and not in a cute way) and Kartik’s back, seriously steaming up Gemma’s gabled windows–all while Gemma is trying to prepare for her debut season, where she will be presented to Queen Victoria along with all the other upper crust debutantes. Talk about an inconvienient time to have to battle demons and topple armies of the dead! Though it takes 800+ pages to do it, Bray manages to tie up every end she loosed in the first two books, while continuing to develop Gemma’s defiant, curious, headstrong character, who grows into her newfound power and learns to wield it with caution and respect. Bray knows her third book’s big–she even gives a sly nod to the fact when Gemma complains about an unwieldly text, “I curse authors who write such lengthy books when a few neat pages of prose would do.” I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a big book that satisfactorily answers all my questions anyday, and this one certainly does that! An excellent purchase for some of that Christmas or Hanukkah money that’s burning a hole in your pocket.
The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray