REVIEW: Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle, #2)Information:
Title/Author: Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
Series: Gemma Doyle (#2)
Release Date: August 23, 2005
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
ISBN: 9780385733410

Ah, Christmas! 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 so 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 now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.

This is Libba Bray’s second novel and the sequel to A Great and Terrible Beauty. Gemma Doyle’s adventures continue in Rebel Angels, where mysteries are solved and 1895 turns into a fantasy story.

To quickly recap the first novel, Gemma Doyle was sent to a boarding school after her mothers death. There, she finds out that she has the ability to travel through to “the realms” and use magic. She also uncovers part of the mystery about the disappearance of Mary Dowd and Sarah Rees-Toome after a fatal fire. Rebel Angels continued many of these topics but, we also got to explore a lot of new ideas and concepts!

I found that Libba Bray’s writing was strengthened in this novel. Obviously it is really formal in the first book. But, I found that it sounded both formal AND mature in this novel. Since she added a lot of parental characters and adults to the storyline, she made our main trio seem slightly older too!

The adventures of Felicity, Gemma and Ann took us to London in this novel! It was Christmas, which meant that Spence became deserted and all of the young girls went off to celebrate with their families. Gemma’s family time was very complicated, due to her father’s addiction but, having Ann and Felicity nearby helped. They spent a great majority of their holiday shopping and exploring the realms to find a secret temple. But, nothing good came from the realms.

Kartik’s words continuously ran through Gemma’s head, telling her not to trust anybody. But, it was extremely hard for her to listen to it when people kept trying to help her in the realms. First, their old friend Pippa, then the Gorgon, and then the people in the Forest of Lights. Although they were all offering their help, it was dangerous to trust any of them.

By the end of the novel, Gemma finds the temple and also reveals who Sarah Rees-Toome/Circe truly is. It was definitely a surprising ending but I loved it! It was amazing to see the Order become restored and the realms to become filled with abstract colours!

What I liked…

Libba Bray added so many new characters to this story that I couldn’t help but like a few of them! Although there were many that I didn’t like *cough* Simon Middleton *cough*, I ended up really liking Nell Hawkins.

Nell Hawkins was a young girl, approximately the same age as Gemma, who was spending her days in a mental hospital.Most would call her a psycho but, Nell Hawkins was simply reliving her time in the Order. It was a struggle for her, even with knowing that she wasn’t the only one in the Order. But, I kept feeling bad for her throughout the novel and couldn’t help but like her, even if she almost killed Cassandra the Parrot.

I also really loved how we got to explore the realms more. In A Great and Terrible Beauty, we were confined to the garden area. But, we were able to venture into forests, the sea and numerous caves in Rebel Angels. And with that, we were also introduced to many creatures who roamed the lands of the realms, including centaurs, gorgons, sea nymphs and sirens!

What I didn’t like…

Where the hack is the romance in these novels? The first book didn’t have any and now the sequel also disappoints me with none. The part that sucks is that there was so much potential for Libba Bray to incorporate a romance between Gemma and Kartik. Their relationship even strengthened in this novel! But, it didn’t strengthen enough.

Honestly, that was the only thing that I disliked.

Quotes that I loved…

“Sometimes we seek that which we are not yet ready to find.”

“Or perhaps it is some combination of spirit and desire, love and hope, some alchemy that we each possess and can put to use, if we first know where to look without flinching.”


I ended up enjoying this book more than I thought I would and with that, I gave it 4/5 stars. Libba Bray’s writing was addicting and thrilling throughout the whole novel. The characters are both sweet and evil. There was hardly anything bad about this book. When she titled the first book A Great and Terrible Beauty, I don’t think she know that the whole series would relive that title.

I highly recommend that everyone reads this book after they read A Great and Terrible Beauty. They are both so well written and will make you crave historical fiction. I cannot wait to dive straight into The Sweet Far Thing in the next few days!

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Happy Reading,

Alaina ❤



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