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On Sale: December 18, 2007
Pages: 592 | ISBN: 978-0-307-43367-1
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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On Sale: April 25, 2006
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy—spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Lord Denby. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify—visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain.

The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world that Gemma takes 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. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face-to-face with her late mother's greatest friend, now Gemma's foe—Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. . . .

This sumptuous companion to A Great and Terrible Beauty teems with Victorian thrills and chills that play out against the rich backdrop of 1895 London, a place of shadows and light . . . where inside great beauty can lie a rebel angel.

Excerpt

December 1895
Spence Academy for Young Ladies


Ah, Christmas!
The very mention of the holiday conjures such precious, sentimental memories for most: a tall evergreen tree hung with tinsel and glass; gaily wrapped presents strewn about; a roaring fire and glasses filled with cheer; carolers grouped round the door, their jaunty hats catching the snow as it falls; a nice fat goose resting upon a platter, surrounded by apples. And of course, fig pudding for dessert.
Right. Jolly good. I should like to see that very much.
These images of Christmas cheer are miles away from where I sit now, at the Spence Academy for Young Ladies, forced to construct a drummer boy ornament using only tinfoil, cotton, and a small bit of string, as if performing some diabolical experiment in cadaver regeneration. Mary Shelley's monster could not be half so frightening as this ridiculous thing. The figure will not remind a soul of Christmas happiness. More likely, it will reduce children to tears.
"This is impossible," I grumble. I elicit no pity from any quarter. Even Felicity and Ann, my two dearest friends, which is to say my only friends here, will not come to my aid. Ann is determined to turn wet sugar and small bits of kindling into an exact replica of the Christ child in a manger. She seems to take no notice of anything beyond her own two hands. For her part, Felicity turns her cool gray eyes to me as if to say, Suffer. I am.
No, instead, it is the beastly Cecily Temple who answers me. Dear, dear Cecily, or as I affectionately refer to her in the privacy of my mind, She Who Inflicts Misery Simply by Breathing.
"I cannot fathom what is giving you such trouble, Miss Doyle. Really, it is the simplest thing in the world. Look, I've done four already." She holds out her four perfect tinfoil boys for inspection. There is a round of oohing and aahing over their beautifully shaped arms, the tiny woolen scarves--knit by Cecily's capable hands, but of course--and those delicate licorice smiles that make them seem overjoyed to be hanging by the neck from a Christmas tree.
Two weeks until Christmas and my mood blackens by the hour. The tinfoil boy seems to be begging me to shoot him. Compelled by a force larger than myself, I cannot seem to keep from placing the crippled ornament boy on the side table and performing a little show. I move the ugly thing, forcing him to drag his useless leg like Mr. Dickens's treacly Tiny Tim.
"God bless us, every one," I warble in a pathetic, high-pitched voice.
This is greeted by horrified silence. Every eye is averted. Even Felicity, who is not known as the soul of decorum, seems cowed. Behind me, there is the familiar sound of a throat being cleared in grand disapproval. I turn to see Mrs. Nightwing, Spence's frosty headmistress, staring down at me as if I were a leper. Blast.
"Miss Doyle, do you suppose that to be humorous? Making light of the very real pain of London's unfortunates?"
"I--I . . . why . . ."
Mrs. Nightwing peers at me over her spectacles. Her graying pouf of hair is like a nimbus warning of the storm to come.
"Perhaps, Miss Doyle, if you were to spend time in service to the poor, wrapping bandages as I once did in my own youth during the Crimean War, you would acquire a healthy and much-needed dose of sympathy."
"Y-yes, Mrs. Nightwing. I don't know how I could have been so unkind," I blabber.
Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Felicity and Ann hunched over their ornaments as if they were fascinating relics from an archeological dig. I note that their shoulders are trembling, and I realize that they are fighting laughter over my terrible plight. There's friendship for you.
"For this you shall lose ten good conduct marks and I shall expect you to perform an act of charity during the holiday as penance."
"Yes, Mrs. Nightwing."
"You shall write a full account of this charitable act and tell me how it has enriched your character."
"Yes, Mrs. Nightwing."
"And that ornament needs much work."
"Yes, Mrs. Nightwing."
"Have you any questions?"
"Yes, Mrs. Nightwing. I meant, no, Mrs. Nightwing. Thank you."
An act of charity? Over the holiday? Would enduring time with my brother, Thomas, count toward that end? Blast. I've done it now.
"Mrs. Nightwing?" The sheer sound of Cecily's voice could make me froth at the mouth. "I hope these are satisfactory. I do so want to be of service to the unfortunate."
It's possible that I shall lose consciousness from holding back a very loud Ha! at this. Cecily, who never misses an opportunity to tease Ann about her scholarship status, wants nothing to do with the poor. What she does want is to be Mrs. Nightwing's lapdog.
Mrs. Nightwing holds Cecily's perfect ornaments up to the light for inspection. "These are exemplary, Miss Temple. I commend you."
Cecily gives a very smug smile. "Thank you, Mrs. Nightwing."
Ah, Christmas.
With a heavy sigh, I take apart my pathetic ornament and begin again. My eyes burn and blur. I rub them but it does no good. What I need is sleep, but sleep is the very thing I fear. For weeks, I've been haunted by wicked warnings of dreams. I cannot remember much when I awaken, only snatches here and there. A sky roiling with red and gray. A painted flower dripping tears of blood. Strange forests of light. My face, grave and questioning, reflected in water. But the images that stay with me are of her, beautiful and sad.
"Why did you leave me here?" she cries, and I cannot answer. "I want to come back. I want us to be together again." I break away and run, but her cry finds me. "It's your fault, Gemma! You left me here! You left me!"
That is all I remember when I wake each morning before dawn, gasping and covered in perspiration, more tired than when I went to bed. They are only dreams. Then why do they leave me feeling so troubled?


From the Hardcover edition.
Libba Bray

About Libba Bray

Libba Bray - Rebel Angels

Photo © Ingalisa Schrobsdorff

"I’m one of those people who has to write. If I don’t write, I feel itchy and depressed and cranky. So everybody’s glad when I write and stop complaining already."–Libba Bray

Libba Bray is the author of the acclaimed A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What is it about writing an author bio that gives me that deer-in-headlights feeling? It’s not exactly like I’m going to say “I was born in Alabama…” and somebody’s going to jump up and snarl, “Oh yeah? Prove it!” At least I hope not.

I think what gets me feeling itchy is all that emphasis on the facts of a life, while all the juicy, relevant, human oddity stuff gets left on the cutting room floor. I could tell you the facts–I lived in Texas for most of my life; I live in New York City with my husband and five-year-old son now; I have freckles and a lopsided smile; I’m allergic to penicillin.

But that doesn’t really give you much insight into me. That doesn’t tell you that I stuck a bead up my nose while watching TV when I was four and thought I’d have to go to the ER and have it cut out. Or that I once sang a punk version of “Que Sera Sera” onstage in New York City. Or that I made everyone call me “Bert” in ninth grade for no reason that I can think of. See what I mean?

God is in the details. So with that in mind, here is my bio. Sort of.

TWENTY-ONE THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT ME
by Libba Bray

1. I lived in Texas until I was 26 years old, then I moved to New York City with $600.00 in my shoe (’cause muggers won’t take it out of your shoe, y’know . . . riiiiight . . .) and a punchbowl (my grandmother’s gift) under my arm. I ended up using the punchbowl box as an end table for two years.

2. My dad was a Presbyterian minister. Yes, I am one of those dreaded P.K.s–Preacher’s Kids. Be afraid. Be very afraid . . .

3. The first story I ever wrote, in Mrs. McBee’s 6th grade English class, was about a girl whose family is kidnapped and held hostage by a murderous lot of bank robbers who intend to kill the whole family–including the dog–until the 12-year-old heroine foils the plot and saves the day. It included colored pencil illustrations of manly-looking, bearded criminals smoking, and, oblivious to the fact that The Beatles had already sort of laid claim to the title, I called my novel, HELP. My mom still has a copy. And when I do something she doesn’t like, she threatens to find it.

4. My favorite word is “redemption.” I like both its meaning and the sound. My least favorite word is “maybe.” “Maybe” is almost always a “no” drawn out in cruel fashion.

5. My three worst habits are overeating, self-doubt, and the frequent use of the “f” word.

6. The three things I like best about myself are my sense of humor, my ability to listen, and my imagination.

7. I have an artificial left eye. I lost my real eye in a car accident when I was eighteen. In fact, I had to have my entire face rebuilt because I smashed it up pretty good. It took six years and thirteen surgeries. However, I did have the pleasure of freezing a plastic eyeball in an ice cube, putting it in a friend’s drink, (“Eyeball in your highball?”) and watching him freak completely. Okay, so maybe that’s not going down on my good karma record. But it sure was fun.

8. In 7th grade, my three best friends and I dressed up as KISS and walked around our neighborhood on Halloween. Man, we were such dorks.

9. I once spent New Year’s Eve in a wetsuit. I’d gone to the party in a black dress that was a little too tight (too many holiday cookies) and when I went to sit down, the dress ripped up the back completely. Can we all say, mortified? The problem was, my friends were moving out of their house–everything was packed and on a truck–and there was nothing I could put on . . . but a wetsuit that they still had tacked to the wall. I spent the rest of the party maneuvering through throngs of people feeling like a giant squid.

10. I got married in Florence, Italy. My husband and I were in love but totally broke, so we eloped and got married in Italy, where he was going on a business trip. We had to pull a guy off the street to be our witness. It was incredibly romantic. Florence is still one of my favorite cities in the world.

11. I often write in longhand and type it into the computer later, editing as I go. Sitting in my favorite coffeehouse with a new notebook and a hot cup of java is my idea of heaven.

12. I’m related to Davy Crockett on my mom’s side. Honest.

13. I grew up doing theatre and spent a long time as a playwright. I still think very visually when I write.

14. Some of my favorite movies of all time (subject to change when I think of other movies I love) are All About Eve, Brazil, Blade Runner, Spinal Tap, Citizen Kane, Harold & Maude, To Kill a Mockingbird, Singin’ in the Rain, and probably a million more that I can’t think of right now. I have never made it through The Wizard of Oz without crying. Not once.

15. Naming my favorite books feels like naming a favorite child–impossible. But here’s my list of some Y.A. books I love as of 4:03pm today. Tithe by Holly Black. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. 33 Snowfish by Adam Rapp. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (not really Y.A. but I read it when I was 16 and it rocked my world). Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Here’s what’s on my nightstand to read: The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. Acceleration by Graham McNamee. The Literary Opus of Daniel Elam by Daniel Elam. By the Time You Finish this Book You Might Be Dead by Aaron Zimmerman.

16. I love to be scared. Not “hey, I think I smell smoke . . .” scared, but creepy, paranoid, what’s-that-out-there-in-the-dark, ghost story scared. It’s no surprise that I was the girl who got invited to the slumber parties because I could be counted on to tell a tale to scare the bejesus out of you.

17. In homage to a book I just read entitled, FIVE MEN WHO BROKE MY HEART, I submit: The first boy who broke my heart (age 6) didn’t want to sit next to me because I’d wet my pants in reading circle once and he thought I was gross. Damn my small bladder! The second boy who broke my heart (age 16) was a drummer with a band (the start of a trend, folks…) and he threw me over for a really cool chick I couldn’t even bring myself to hate. The third boy who broke my heart (ages 20—24, ay yi yi . . .) was a strapping hunk of bodaciousness with the mind of Einstein. We had the exact same birthday, same year and everything. So the time he forgot to wish me a happy birthday was kind of the beginning of the end, I think. The fourth boy who broke my heart (age 25) was also a drummer. I had to stop with the drummers. The fifth boy . . . well, I married him, and if he breaks my heart, I’m going to burn all his favorite, rare import punk vinyl in the middle of the living room, so he’s been warned.

18. I’m one of those people who has to write. If I don’t write, I feel itchy and depressed and cranky. So everybody's glad when I write and stop complaining already.

19. My Pennsylvania Dutch great-great-great grandmother was supposedly a psychic who could see and speak to the dead. Sort of a witch, I guess. Her husband was an undertaker, and she would have these visions of someone bringing in a string of a particular size (people were measured for their coffins in this way) and it would come true. Creepy stuff, but fascinating.

20. If I were stuck on a deserted island, the five indispensable CDs I’d take would be London Calling by the Clash, Quadrophenia by The Who, Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Hits, To Venus and Back by Tori Amos, and Elvis Costello’s Greatest Hits.

21. I hate doughnuts. Weird but true.
Awards

Awards

WINNER 2006 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
NOMINEE 2007 Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
NOMINEE Iowa High School Book Award

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