Historical Fantasy

Elizabeth Evans er.evans at auckland.ac.nz
Wed Sep 15 21:47:36 EDT 2004

Judith posted a description of the YA novel "A Great and Terrible Beauty" by
Libba Bray:

Set in Victorian England , A Great and Terrible Beauty tells the story of
Gemma Doyle, a young woman who saw her mother brutally murdered in
supernatural fashion when the family was living in Bombay, India. Devastated
by her mother's death, Gemma desperately tries to fit in at the Spence
Academy, the posh boarding school where her father sends her after the
family returns to England. Forced to keep the strange circumstances of her
mother's death a secret, Gemma discovers that she has some unusual powers
which allow her connect with the spiritual realm. Gemma and her friends,
Pippa, Ann and Felicity begin to experiment with Gemma's newfound powers,
but their experiments turn dangerous. A Great and Terrible Beauty is a
stunning first novel about the repression and rigid caste system of the
Victorian era, growing up, and learning about the power of the choices that
we make in our lives. There certainly are gothic elements in the story, but
there is also magic, humor and deep emotion.

Talking of gothic, there is also The haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris
Wooding, which is almost more a horror story than a fantasy, set in the
Victorian underworld. But how does one draw the line? Most horror stories
are fantasies, but most fantasies are not horror stories. It's very

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