The third in the Gemma Doyle trilogy, The Sweet Far Thing wraps up the story of Gemma Doyle and her challenges with trying to control the power of the realms. After finding the Temple and binding Circe in the Temple in Rebel Angels, Gemma returns to Spence Academy for Girls only weeks away from her season and from the moment where she will be introduced formally to her soveriegn.
While trying to perfect her curtsy, Gemma is torn in several directions as the veil between the realms and her world thins and creatures from the realms come over with malicious intents. As Gemma struggles with the fact that she holds all the power in the realms, her relationship with her friends, family, and Kartik strain as she must return the power back to the realms before it corrupts and destroys her.
This review is going to contain a lot of spoilers, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW. You have been warned.
Gemma continues to be a conflicted character and is described beautifully by Bray as someone trying to understand themselves. She continues to blossom in this book as she comes to terms with her powers and her fears.
So, like I mentioned, this was the last book in the wildly popular Gemma Doyle trilogy. You’d think that since its the last book, things would change. But no. Pippa is back. Again. Gemma still doesn’t know if she likes Kartik or not. Still. We still don’t know if Miss McCleethy is a friend or foe. Still.
So much of this book was repetitive that I found myself getting annoyed, about halfway through. If you’ve seen the size of this thing, its huge. I don’t mind big books (um, have you seen OOTP?) but only if there’s a purpose. So many things in The Sweet Far Thing have happened in previous books and I was sort of sick of hearing about them again.
This book is my least favourite in the trilogy and the main reason for it was the ending. I just didn’t like it.
BIG SPOILER: Kartik turns into the tree. After killing Mrs. Spence, who has become one with the Winterland creatures, Kartik sacrifices himself and somehow becomes taken by the tree, since the tree can’t be defeated, only changed. WHAT THE HECK Libba Bray? I know that his gesture was all about sacrifice and love and the greater good, but I was actually really excited about envisioning Gemma and Kartik’s life, as she finally realises she loves him and he is the one for her, despite the difference in race and religion. As something that a lot of people deal with still today (mixed marriages), I would have loved to see how Gemma would have lived with Kartik and her family. Except, we don’t ever get to see this, since Kartik all but dies by the end of the book and the ultimate happy ending I had been dreaming for these two characters is torn away from me.
The second part of the ending which really frustrated me, apart from Kartik’s ‘death’, was the fact that Gemma just up and leaves and goes to New York. I’m sorry, but what? Why? By the end of the book, Gemma has decided to forgo her season and to live her life as she sees fit. And all the power to her, for doing that. But I don’t quite see the need for her to leave Britain and go to America, the land of the “free and brave”, as it is painted, just to be free from society’s constrictions.
Again, I would have really loved to see how Gemma would live in the society she already lives in, in order to fulfil her dreams. Instead, she runs away to a country where a lady offers “liberty to all those who pursue their dreams”. I get a sense of ‘America is better than Britain’ by these last few lines, which just makes me sad, because after learning so much about customs and traditions specific to Britons, especially in the Victorian era, this is all ignored by making Gemma leave her family and friends to a new country.
Despite the ending and the way the story wraps up in the last book, I would still urge everyone to check out this trilogy. The first and second were un-put-down-able and kept me up most nights from the creepiness. So do look them up.
So for that, 3.5/5.
Thanks for reading.
‘Till next time,