The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
Definitely my favorite of the trilogy. Rebel Angels left off with Gemma binding all of the magic to herself and in the beginning of The Sweet Far Thing, Gemma is afraid that she has lost the magic. She is unable to enter the realms until she, Felicity and Ann find a secret entrance in the burned East Wing. Unfortunately, the magic is too much for Gemma to control and she is in desperate need of guidance. She doesn't know who to trust and finds herself turning to unlikely allies.
The Sweet Far Thing takes us further into the minds of Gemma, Felicity, and Ann. These three girls are desperate to be free of the reigns of society. I loved the historical elements that Libba Bray wove into this novel, in particular the parts that hinted of social revolution - the women's movement and the worker's rights movement. I also must admit that until this book, I didn't have much faith in Felicity and Ann. They seemed weak in comparison to Gemma but I was pleasantly surprised at their roles in this novel. Kartik's character was also highly developed in The Sweet Far Thing. We learn more of his history, and his devotion to Gemma can no longer be doubted. Perhaps the most affecting part of this novel was the message of peace. Libba Bray makes it known, through both quotes from famous people and through Gemma's experience, that peace is attainable and that once attained we must all work as hard as possible to keep it that way. The Sweet Far Thing is set up in five acts, alluding to the fact that this is a tragedy. There is war and sadness in this book. But as Libba Bray quotes George Bernard Shaw in the beginning of the novel: "Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous."
Overall, a fantastic read. If you haven't already read it, prepare yourself to devote several days and several tissues to it. Oh, and The Sweet Far Thing refers to a line in the poem "The Rose of Battle" from W.B. Yeats. I'll leave you to make of it what you will.
And if you've already read The Sweet Far Thing, Libba Bray offers some answers to our questions. Answers Part I and Answers Part II. Warning: her site does contain spoilers.
My review of A Great & Terrible Beauty
My review of Rebel Angels