Wednesday 1 September 2010

Rebel Angels

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray (Simon and Schuster)

PB RRP $19.99
ISBN 978-073181455-8
Reviewed by Peta Biggin

With Christmas fast approaching, Gemma and her friends, Felicity and Anne, are ready to enjoy a break in London. It’s time for them to partake in the rich, social life on offer – balls, gowns and the attentions of handsome, young men. However, Gemma’s disturbing visions won’t allow her to relax. Soon the three friends are pulled into a dangerous quest to bind the magic within the Realms and protect it from the evil Circe. Little does she realise, but Gemma is still being followed by the mysterious Kartik; this time he has been given a deadly mission to fulfil that will threaten Gemma’s life. Can the friends discover the secret to binding the magic of the Realms in time to avoid disaster?

Originally published in 2007, Rebel Angels is the second instalment of the gothic Gemma Doyle Trilogy. After thoroughly enjoying A Great and Terrible Beauty, I was certainly looking forward to this next offering in the series. And I wasn’t disappointed – Rebel Angels is a strong follow-on from the first book. In addition to presenting the reader with an exciting adventure, we also learn a little more about the three girls at the centre of the story: their strengths, weaknesses and some dark family secrets.

It is a relentless journey for our main character Gemma. Not only does she find herself attempting to thwart the evil Circe from possessing the magic in the Realms; but she must deal with the reality of her father’s drug addiction and decide whether to accept or reject the attentions of the rich and handsome Simon Middleton. It is no surprise that by the end of the book, Gemma is a little wiser and more mature.

Similar to the first book, Rebel Angels also presents a commentary on life in Victorian society: social positioning, the role of women and the shallow attitudes of the aristocracy. Again, like the previous novel, there are some dark concepts introduced into the characters’ lives – drug addiction and the suggestion of incest.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Rebel Angels and found it a solid continuation of the series. I am looking forward to discovering Gemma’s future in the final instalment, The Sweet Far Thing.

Libba Bray is an American YA novelist whose other titles include Vacations from Hell and Going Bovine, amongst several others. She currently lives in New York with her family. According to her website, she has an artificial left eye as a result of a car accident when she was eighteen.

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