Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Rebel Angels, the second book to the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, somehow broke the sequel curse to me and is almost at par with, or better in some ways than, the first book, A Great and Terrible Beauty.

Gemma, along with the other girls, traveled further into the realms and the unfamiliar paths brought them to forbidding places, disturbing magical creatures and dark spirits abroad.

The world of the realms, at first idyllic, has now become straight out of a Gothic fairy tale. Bray's writing retained its tones though now a shade darker than before and I found myself reading in a disquieting manner. She tipped the balance scales of the book bringing into suspicion some characters whom I didn't really think much before. Who to trust? Even I do not know who to trust anymore.

With the realms and the girls' friendship being unstable at present (it wasn't really a harmonious friendship to begin with), a lot of the action and twists display the fragility of the human mind or its precarious nature. A slight provocation at the right moment could flip everything over.

I like that Libba Bray isn't afraid to set difficult choices for the heroine or the other characters. They left me surprised, too, and admire somewhat the courage for making a decision that is not easy it'll take a lifetime to make peace with it or perhaps never. Despite its fantasy element and the draw to young adults, this was a bittersweet read. It is gritty and sad and weighs heavily with helplessness.

Sometimes the girls themselves are hot and cold to me and, though I am amazed at Gemma's fire in between, I wish she would put her foot down just once and refuse to be pushed over. Then there's the mystery. Once I figured it out (as obviously clued in to the reader) I'd want for things to hurry along and have the characters be on the same page with me. Their unknowing and the waiting really unsettles my reading pattern and my patience.

Yet still, this book presented more rounded personalities, more secrets unveiled, just more. I have vague notions (and forming my own conclusions) of the third book. It is not a happy one but I want to hope. If there's one thing I learned in this book, it is that there is always a choice even in facing fate.


Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or s it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma's visions intensify -- visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain...

The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls' great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms -- or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma's willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother's greatest friend -- and how her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.

Title: Rebel Angels
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Historical, Young Adult Fantasy
Published: 2006
Publisher: Ember
Rating: ♨♨♨ 1/2 ( 3 and a half cups - Darker and sinister. It explores with depths the vulnerability and rawness of the heart.)