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.
I love historical fiction! And these books were set in colonial England, as well as India – and interesting combination that made for a really good read. In addition, the style of writing and language used made me feel as if these books could pass off as classics. I guess that makes sense, given that the setting is the late nineteenth century.
Gemma is a pretty entertaining character. She’s smart, independent, curious, and pretty darn brave for a colonial English Lady in finishing school.On the other hand, I felt that the characters were rather cliche – almost relatable to Pretty Little Liars.
Gemma is like Aria Montgomery/Emily Fields – different in a good way, and trying to find her true self, the open-minded one of the group.
Felicity is like Ali D. – bold, charming, Queen Bee, adored by everybody around her. They even have the same blond hair.
Pippa is like Spencer Hastings – almost of equal rank to the Queen Bee of the group, perfect, pretty, and smart, but never the leader.
Ann is like Hanna Marin (the 7th grade one) – liked but still kind of perceived as a loser, the outcast of the group who then has a glow-up.
Speaking of characters, I cannot forgive Libba Bray for killing one of the important characters. Shhhh… No spoiling!
Even though one of the themes of the books is supposed to be friendship, I really didn’t get that vibe at all. The childish behavior and backstabbing of characters struck me as pretty immature. The series eventually became pretty monotonous, and I felt that there was detail where none needed and less detail when needed, with very little action in between.
That said, I don’t think I can say it was a terrible read either. It had ups and downs, but I’d describe it as pretty okay.