Review: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

Posted 23 November, 2011 by Danny in / 6 Comments

The Sweet Far Thing
by Libba Bray

Published: December 26, 2007
Links: IndieBound
(support an independent bookseller near YOU!)
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
(available as Kindle/Nook and Audio editions)
Audiobook borrowed from the library

Synopsis from Goodreads

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 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. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order – the mysterious group her mother was once part of – is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence’s burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.


NOTE: This reviews contains spoilers

for those who have not read the first book.

Oh, Gemma. How I long to alternately hug and slap this child!

She really is such a lovely girl, but there are times that she’s just…. such…. a teen-ager!! *sigh*

And yet, there’s no denying that despite the many blindnesses she almost willfully cultivates, she is trying, desperately, to do the right thing in the face of total uncertainty of what that might be and against overwhelming odds. And that’s what gets me about Gemma every time: underneath the foibles she may possess, she is such a good, kind-hearted girl.

Once again, Libba Bray returns us to both late-nineteenth century London and the Realms, drawing us back into the lives of Gemma and her friends (and foes) and into yet another mystery, and this time she’s working against more than just Circe… she’s battling evil primordial!

For those that had wondered at some of the subtle allusions to the thorny issues the characters face, issues that are still very pertinent in this day and age – child abuse, sexual awakening and inter-racial attraction – everything you wondered about will be addressed and laid to rest. I have to mention that while these leitmotifs where in no way the driving force behind these books, I loved the way they were just part of the reality that these characters lived among, not unlike the reality we live in. It made me think that this is the way to shine a light on the darker aspects of human nature, both prejudice and evil, and show it for what it is. But that it was done so deftly speaks to the prowess of Libba Bray’s craft.

Bottom Line

I was so sad to see this story come to an end, but what a glorious ride it was! If you love full rich world building, you should read these books. If you love characters that leap off the page and are entirely real, you should read these books.

I cannot stress it enough, READ. THIS. SERIES. NOW!!!

I give it 5 out of 5 books

Final Notes
While this series is set in a historical setting, which may not be every reader’s cup of tea, Libba Bray’s last two books have been entirely contemporary in timing and are so hysterically witty and heartbreakingly beautiful, you’re only cheating yourself if you don’t take the chance to read Going Bovine (which I reviewed last year) and Beauty Queens (which I plan to review soon).

Now go and get lost…in a book!

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6 Responses to “Review: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray”

  1. Samual, you comment made my day!! This series is fantastic and everything by Libba Bray is really top notch! You won't be disappointed by anything you pick up by her. Thanks for following!!!

    Reply »

  2. Lori Strongin

    I loves me a good historical! (I think I own every Phillipa Gregory book out there!) I haven't read anything in this series yet, but I definitely think I'm going to have to rectify that.

    Thanks for the rec!

    My recent post Welcome!

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