Book Reviews

Review: “The Sweet Far Thing,” Libba Bray

April 27, 2014
Review: “The Sweet Far Thing,” Libba BrayThe Sweet Far Thingby Libba Bray
Series: The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #3
Published by Simon & Schuster on December, 2007
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Witches
Pages: 819

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.

Though incredibly long, The Sweet Far Thing still remains a fantastic and to a fantastic series. Gemma’s story comes full circle – the stakes are higher and danger threatens. If you’re a fan of the previous two books, you won’t want to miss the conclusion.

I always gush about the characters Libba Bray manages to create within her ‘Gemma Doyle’ trilogy. Even the secondary characters find a way into your heart. There are some characters I didn’t realise I felt for until they were gone…

This is my second time reading The Sweet Far Thing. It has been over five years since my last reading, however, so although I did know the outcome of things, the smaller details had been lost. It was a pleasure to re-read the conclusion to Gemma’s story, but as I mentioned, it was INCREDIBLY LENGTHY.

This book is a tome… although I relish every ounce of magic Libba Bray can squeeze out of this series, I do feel like it could have been cut down. There were a lot of unnecessary scenes in this one, which served to placate longstanding fans of the series and did little else in terms of advancing the plot. The ‘truth’ behind Gemma’s new visions took a long time to surface, too.

The Sweet Far Thing centered a lot around the politics of the realms, but not boringly so. We’re introduced to more of the realm creatures and their way of life. We also witness the startling and terrifying changes in Pippa and her factory girl followers.

Things between Gemma and Kartik heat up, too. All the while life goes on for the ‘normal’ Londoners – debutante balls, seasons, etcetera. The historical side of this series is as much a big part in it as the magical side.

We witness the journeys of all four girls – Gemma, Felicity, Pippa and Ann – come to a close, however that may be. It’s bittersweet, as I loved seeing them come into their own but I hated seeing them part ways. Perhaps the most memorable thing about this series was the relationship the girls shared. What started out as a strange quartet of girls trying to tolerate each other became a tight-knit friendship that kindled strength and loyalty. Each girl offered a different and vital gift to the group that would conquer the realms.

Leaving this series (again) was a sad occasion. I will miss Gemma and her witty narrative… her discovery of both herself and the world around her. I will miss Fee and her beguiling charm… her harsh whip of a tongue and fierce loyalty. I will miss Pippa’s innocence and shiny view of the world.

Libba Bray managed to create the perfect YA historical fantasy series with this one. With quotes that will be remembered, characters that will be forever cherished and a magic that will remain upon re-reading. Simply my favourite of the genre – now and no doubt always.

Recommended to: The Sweet Far Thing is a must read if you’ve started ‘The Gemma Doyle Trilogy’.

About Libba Bray

New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray was raised on a diet of Monty Python, loud rock n roll, Hammer Horror films and suburban Texas ennui. She started off weird and just got weirder. It's a miracle she's not in prison. Libba lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son, and two cats of questionable intelligence.


  • Reply Alicia the Awesome May 19, 2014 at 8:16 am

    I remember this book was insanely long too. And I don’t think it was my favorite series ending either….I don’t know, it was just too sad and at the same time intense. Plus the politics bored me a bit (it was just too much all at once) and at that point I just wanted a resolution. But it was good to have all the loose ends tied up. I still liked it.
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  • Reply Jeann @ Happy Indulgence April 27, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    I’m glad this was still good the 2nd time you read it, I miss the Gemma Doyle series, it was so fantastic. Great review Brittany!
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