BLURB: “It’s the end of the year, and Gemma’s looking forward to living it up in London. Balls, fancy gowns and dancing with the handsome Simon Middleton beckon. Best of all, it’s time away from Spence Academy – and from the realms. But the lure of the enchanted world is strong, and the magic flows freely. Gemma’s visions intensify -visions of three girls dressed in white, suffering horror and menace. Clearly all is not well in the realms – or out of them.”
REVIEW: I remembered this book fondly as my favourite in the trilogy, and so far this still remains the case. The novel opens just as the Christmas holidays are approaching at Spence Academy, after a prologue which teaches us more about the mysterious Kartik and sets the scene for a suspenseful tale. Gemma and Felicity are anticipating their London season and, with the invention of an aristocratic relative and Russian royal heritage, Ann is able to join them despite her humble origins. Despite the exciting events that hold their attention back in London, including their reunion with the disgraced Miss Moore, the opium addiction that is slowly destroying Gemma’s father, and the attentions she receives from Simon Middleton (which cause Kartik to feel some jealousy!), the lure of the realms and the girls’ longing to see their departed friend Pippa proves too strong, and they soon find a number of opportunities to slip away and return to the realms. With the magic set loose after Gemma’s destruction of the runes, however, all is not as it was in the realms – including Pippa, who seems to be turning into something much darker than any of them expected. The mystery of the realms deepens when Gemma meets a young girl named Nell Hawkins, driven mad by the deaths of her friends at the hands of a creature from the realms. Gemma suspects their new teacher, Miss McCleethy, but struggles to decipher Nell’s clues to finding the mysterious Temple – which, she is told by Kartik – will allow her to bind the magic to the Order forever. Gemma and her friends’ search for the Temple leads them into many dangers, and introduces them to many of the creatures of the realms, adding a new dimension to the story as we see the contrast between the rigid rules of London society and the untamed magic of the realms. This is a brilliant novel and has, in my opinion, the best plot twist of the series, which is what makes it the most enjoyable of the three for me. I would very highly recommend it.