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The Sweet Far Thing

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The Sweet Far Thing is the final instalment in Ms Bray's historical fantasy trilogy for young adults, starring Gemma Doyle, Victorian teenager and hereditary sorceress.

As the final year at Spence Academy unfolds, Gemma and Felicity are soon to have their season in London and be presented at court before Queen Victoria, while Ann will be despatched to a life of servitude, her natural talent for singing neglected. In the Realms, the race is on to destroy Gemma and seize her power, while Gemma's ongoing attraction to Kartik, a former member of the magical brotherhood the Rakshana, is developing all the more strongly. In this final climactic episode of the trilogy, written in the classic five-act format of the tragedy, characters will be killed; begin relationships; ‘come out'; take charge of their destinies. Perceptions of good and evil will be challenged, and futures decided for the young women whose fates initially appeared so set in stone. For the readers who have been with Gemma et al since the first book, The Sweet Far Thing is likely to be an affecting read, especially towards the end, as the losses and gains of the battle for the Realms mount up.

I found myself smiling at quite a few scenes, particularly those in which the teenage protagonists' characters are explored. Bray's talent for creating likeably flawed personalities is clear, and the younger characters in particular are in most ways very believable. They do not conform to the ‘frigid Victorian' stereotype held by many people nowadays, nor are they wise and responsible beyond their years; indeed, Gemma frequently makes errors of judgement the sort of which one would expect from a young girl still coming to terms with life, both in and outside of the magical Realms. Her relationship with Kartik is not presented as the be-all-and-end-all of her existence, and while the ending of the story is far from ‘happily ever after', there remains a strong sense of hope and possibility for the futures of the girls at the centre of the tale.
This 819-page epic can move slowly at times, but I prefer to think that the leisurely pace of this final installment is a sign that Bray just doesn't want to say goodbye to these characters. I have a hunch that her many readers will be just as reluctant to leave Gemma, Felicity and Ann --- despite the happy endings and surprise joys that lie on the far side of danger.





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Jaquie This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 10, 2009 at 2:00 am
Wow. Big fan of these series. I thought you had a wonderful review. It made me want to re-read the whole series. Which I just might do... Keep writing.
Good bless,
...,
(P.S. You have my vote!)
 
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