"It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength to turn catty schoolgirls into loyal friends, and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild.
Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances with headstrong Felicity and timid Ann; with Kartik, an exotic young Indian man whose companionship is forbidden; and with the fearsome creatures of the realms. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds. The Order, the mysterious group Gemma's mother was once part of, is grappling for control of the realms, as are the Rakshana. It is there that the girls meet their adored friend Pippa, who is not the same...or is she? The power to change everything - both in and out of the realms - rests in Gemma's hands." (back cover)
A sad thought occured to me at the very beginning of this story as I was getting back into the series: This is a wonderful series, but let's face it, most girls these days don't want to read about corsets and women empowerment, they'd rather be reading about...well, sex and how few clothes they can wear while still being allowed out of the house.
Still, Josephine Bailey does not cease to amaze me. After reading the majority of the series with some sort of European accent, her American accent for Lucy Fairchild made me wonder if she was really English at all (though if you read the back cover it does say she's from London). The beginning of the book did not have quite as lengthy of an "introduction" of sorts (which is surprising considering this is the longest book) that gave a recap of the happenings in the previous two books, but it was still a worthy effort and better than nothing.
This was the first and only book in the series that made me cry, which is surprising because I freely admit I'm a wuss. Two quotes really stuck out as relevant to the point I was at in my life: "There is never any turning back; you must go forward." and "Before we can see properly we must first shed our tears to clear the way."
I only have one real criticism about this book. When the Gorgon informs Gemma and her party that the forest is burning, all of a sudden in pretty much the next sentence, the girls are just there. It was such a choppy transition that it was one of the very few times I actually rewound the CD to make sure I hadn't just zoned out and missed something. I know they're in the realms, but I don't recall ever hearing they could randomly teleport places. With the length of the book, I think Bray could have spared a couple seconds to explain how the group got to the forest.
Obviously I'm not going to tell you how the book ended, but I will say that I liked The Sweet Far Thing's ending much better than Rebel Angels'. There is actually closure with this ending and it doesn't seem such a sudden "oh the problem is solved, we can end the book now"-type ending. Several chapters were dedicated to the ending rather than several sentences.
Amazon recommends this book for Young Adults. As with the rest of the series, however, I would recommend you listen to/read it first before recommending it to younger teens due to sensuality and sexuality.
Anyone else who has read this book, please feel free to leave comments either with your opinions or links to your blog review. I also think this could be a great series for which to write a "fanfic" fourth book.
Secrets I Know by Kallie George
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