Characters in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy

Characters in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy

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Gemma Doyle

Infobox character
colour = Pink
name = Gemma Doyle

caption = Gemma Doyle, as seen on the cover of "A Great and Terrible Beauty"
first = "A Great and Terrible Beauty"
last = "The Sweet Far Thing"
cause =
nickname =
alias = Dog Mealy Em, Gemma Dowd
species =
gender =
age = 16
born = June 21, 1879
death =
occupation = Student
title = Miss
callsign =
family = Virginia Doyle (mother),
John Doyle (father),
Tom Doyle (brother),
Mrs. William Doyle (grandmother)
spouse =
children =
relatives =
residence = Spence Academy, England, UK
episode =
portrayer =
creator = Libba Bray

Gemma Doyle (born June 21, 1879) is the heroine of Libba Bray's novels "A Great and Terrible Beauty", "Rebel Angels", and "The Sweet Far Thing".

Gemma's first name means "jewel". [ [ Gemma - Name Meaning and Origin] ] Her surname, Doyle, comes from the Irish language "Ó Dubhghaill", or "descendent of Dubhghall". The word Dubhgall, as it were, is Gaelic for "dark stranger". [ [ Doyle] "Behind the Name"] Gemma's full name, then, means "jewel who is descended from a dark stranger". In "Rebel Angels", Gemma, Felicity, and Ann make anagrams of their names. Gemma's proves to be Dog Mealy Em, which does not make her very happy. Gemma's name could just as easily become something like Emma Godley, which would pass as a normal name.

Gemma is considered to be quite pretty, but no beauty, and is tall for a girl her age. She has pale brows and freckles and describes herself as having the shoulders of a boy. Her hair is red-gold and usually worn properly in a schoolgirl's bun. Her most distinctive feature is her set of brilliant glass-green eyes, which are inherited from her mother, Virginia Doyle. In "A Great and Terrible Beauty", the housekeeper at Spence, Brigid, becomes very uncomfortable when Gemma's eyes stir up the memory of Virginia, then called Mary Dowd.


Gemma lived most of her life in India. In June of 1895, Gemma's mother, Virginia Doyle, dies, leaving Gemma with her strange amulet in the shape of the Crescent Eye, and the Doyle family moves back to England. Gemma, then only sixteen, is sent to Spence Academy rather abruptly. Her first friend there is roommate and scholarship student Ann Bradshaw, and shortly after, she meets witty and wealthy Felicity Worthington and the beautiful, but shallow, Pippa, at that time Felicity's best friend. All four girls strike up a rather unconventional relationship as they find themselves entangled in the mysterious Order.

Shortly after the death of her mother, Gemma starts having strange visions that show her frightening images. Kartik, a member of the Rakshana who is supposedly protecting her, tells her, she is a member of the Order; just like her mother. From her visions, Gemma is able to navigate herself and her friends into a strange world called The Realms, where they have absolute power over everything. It is in the realms that she meets up with what she believes to be her dead mother, and the two devise a plan to defeat Circe and her ruthless assassins. However, the power of the Order lies within their ability to make illusions, and Gemma soon realizes that the mother she meets in the Realms is not the mother she knew during her lifetime. She discovers that Virginia Doyle is actually Mary Dowd, who, along with her best friend, Sarah Rees-Toome, became entangled in the power that the Realms, Winterlands,and the Order offered them. While Mary escaped and was reborn as Virginia, her greatest friend, Sarah, turned into Circe, an evil member of the Order who wishes to take the power away from Gemma. The illusion of Virginia Doyle is destroyed in "A Great and Terrible Beauty" along with Circe's assassin in a fight with Gemma, but in the process, Pippa decides against returning to the mortal worlds and Gemma leaves her behind, effectively killing her. Later on in "Rebel Angels", Pippa becomes corrupted by the realms and goes off to the Winterlands, forever leaving behind her friends. So far, Circe has not succeeded in her goal of taking over the Realms and harnessing the power there, and, in "Rebel Angels" is imprisoned in the Cave of Sighs forever. At the end of "Rebel Angels", Gemma has a new mission--to piece together a new Order, one free of corruption and with new members, much to the chagrin of former Order priestesses like Claire McCleethy.

Also unique in Gemma's life is her relationship with Kartik, a member of the mysterious Rakshana who is apparently trying to protect her. In "Rebel Angels", Kartik's true assignment--to have Gemma bind the magic of the Realms in the name of the Rakshana, then kill her--is discovered by Gemma, who believes that he has betrayed her. Kartik, however, insists that he never would have done it and proves his honesty by helping Gemma escape the Rakshana when they imprison her, causing him to become one of their enemies and forcing him to turn his back on everything he has ever known. In the books, it is obvious that Gemma and Kartik both feel something beyond their platonic relationship, but as Kartik is Indian and Gemma is a proper English young lady, she would be sacrificing her and her family's reputation if she chooses to be with him.

In "The Sweet Far Thing" Gemma and Kartik finally admit their feelings and have a romantic relationship. As a result, Kartik agrees to let Gemma show him the realms. They place their hands inside a special circle in the Cave of Sighs, which gives them the ability to appear in each other's dreams. At the very end of the series, Gemma decides to go to America to make an independent life for herself.

Throughout the series, Gemma struggles with her fears that she does not fit in anywhere and that she is truly loved and valued by no one. She has strained relationships with her strict, critical grandmother, her brother, who is interested mainly in social climbing, and her father, who tries to avoid painful memories of his wife by using drugs.

Ann Bradshaw

Infobox character
colour = Red
colour text =
series = Gemma Doyle Trilogy
name = Ann Bradshaw

caption =
first = "A Great and Terrible Beauty"
last = "The Sweet Far Thing"
cause =
creator = Libba Bray
portrayer =
episode =
nickname =
alias = Nan Washbrad
species =
gender = female
age = About 16
born = c. 1879
death =
occupation = Student/Governess/actress/singer
title = Miss
callsign =
family = None
spouse =
children =
relatives = sent her to Spence to train to be a governess
residence = Spence Academy, England

Ann Bradshaw (born c. 1879), along with Gemma Doyle, Felicity Worthington, and Pippa Cross, is one of the lead characters of Libba Bray's novels "A Great and Terrible Beauty", "Rebel Angels", and "The Sweet Far Thing".

Annie (Ann) Bradshaw's name comes from Hebrew; it means "favored grace". [ [ Ann - Name Meaning and Origin] ] Her surname, Bradshaw, means "from the broad forest." [ [ Bradshaw] ] In "Rebel Angels", Gemma, Felicity, and Ann make anagrams of their names. Ann's name becomes Nan Washbrad; she is the only one of the girls whose anagram "sounds like an actual name." ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 25]

Ann is described as being plain, and poor which furthermore condemns her to the low class. Gemma says in more or less words that if Ann had finer features she'd have a chance to marry out of her class and avoid her fate as a governess. She has mousy brown hair and a runny nose, which she tells Gemma in "A Great and Terrible Beauty" is not a cold."". Her heart's desire is "to be beautiful." ["A Great and Terrible Beauty", Chapter 13]


Ann attends Spence Academy, where she has been for many years. She was sent to Spence, as a "scholarship pupil" by her "nouveau riche" aunt and uncle who wish Ann to be well-learned; they can then employ her as an unpayed governess for their odious children. Ann is thankful for this measly bit of a sacrifice, but she wishes that she had her parents alive and well so that she could marry a respectable young man, and live her life to the fullest like other young, rich, and well bred English girls.

Ann managed to stay fairly invisible while at school. The only subject that she stood out in was singing; Ann proved to have a beautiful voice. She lacked the money and beauty of the other girls, and so lacked friends. She was often bullied by the other girls, especially Felicity Worthington and Pippa Cross. In 1895, however, when Ann was fifteen, a new girl came to Spence. Gemma Doyle was Ann's roommate. The two became friends by virtue of their having no other friends and of being roommates. When Felicity came into Gemma's debt, Gemma became friend with Felicity and Pippa, under condition that they would befriend Ann, too. This relationship, first one of obligation, later became real. The girls bonded, and came to love each other. In December of that year, Felicity even took Ann home with her over Christmas break, as Ann would otherwise have had to stay at their school. Ann, knowing she was poor, plain, had no future prospects, was depressed. So in secret, she would use her sewing needle to cut deep scratches in her wrist. But upon Gemma discovering this, Ann is sworn to stop her nasty habit.

Ann has a crush on Tom Doyle from the first moment they meet in the first book and those feelings are very briefly matched in "Rebel Angels", until Tom finds out she is not a rich and grand lady like she portrayed.

In the third book she disguises herself in magic and becomes the beautiful Nan Washbrad. Ann, Gemma, and Felicity go to see "Macbeth" and have a chance encounter with an American actress who recommends Ann for an acting spot with Mr. Katz. When she goes to meet Mr. Katz he is thrilled with her beauty and talents. However he puts much emphasis on her pretty face and not her natural acting skills or her beautiful voice. Ann realises that he would hire her for looks instead of her talent. Afraid that she would not be accepted as she was, she decides not to join the theatre after all, and asks for her horrible cousins to pick her up early from school and begin her life as a governess.

However, Felicity and Gemma intervene, retrieving Ann from her cousins' country house, Balmoral Spring. Ann, along with Gemma, auditions again as herself for Mr. Smalls, a composer who had worked with Mr. Katz. Pleased, he grants her a supporting role in his new musical, "The Merry Maidens". ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 71]

Felicity Worthington

Infobox character
colour = Gray
name = Felicity Worthington

caption =
first = "A Great and Terrible Beauty"
last = "The Sweet Far Thing"
cause =
nickname = Fee
alias = Maleficent Oddity Ralingworth
species =
gender = Female
age = 18
born = c. 1879
death =
occupation = Student
title = Miss
callsign =
family = Lady Worthington (mother),
Sir George Phineas Worthington (father),
Polly (cousin)
spouse = Engaged to Horace Markham briefly
children =
relatives =
residence = Spence Academy, England, UK
episode =
portrayer =
creator = Libba Bray

Felicity Mildrade "Fee" Worthington (born c. 1879) is one of the main characters in Libba Bray's novels "A Great and Terrible Beauty", "Rebel Angels", and "The Sweet Far Thing". Felicity, though not as beautiful as Pippa, is considered sensuous and physically attractive. She has almond grey eyes, set "in a face so pale it's almost the color of an opal," white-blonde hair (which is also, at times, described as golden), full lips, and a fully developed, voluptuous figure.

Felicity's first name, ironically, means "happy" [ [ Felicity - Name Meaning and Origin] ] . Her surname, Worthington, is Anglo-Saxon; it means "from the river's side" [ [ Baby Names, Baby Name Meanings & Origins] (page 21)] . This makes sense, as Felicity claims that her middle name, Mildrade, is "an old family name" that "can be traced all the way back to the Saxons". Mildrade is probably a form of the Old English name Mildred, which means "gentle and strong." [ [ Mildred - Name Meaning and Origin] ] In "Rebel Angels", Felicity, Ann, and Gemma make anagrams of their names. Felicity's is Maleficent Oddity Ralingworth. This name is declared "perfect" for Felicity-- for, as Gemma says, it is "evil and odd". Before trying to make an anagram with Felicity's middle name included, the best that Ann could find was City Worth Gin If Leno and Wont Left in City Groh, neither of which would work as names.

One of Felicity's defining characteristics is her strength, both physical and emotional. However, any reminder of "weakness" she has shown in the past (for example, her father's sexual abuse of her as a child) causes her to become enraged or depressed, or both. She is constantly trying to strengthen herself, and gives her greatest desire as "to be too powerful to ignore." ["A Great and Terrible Beauty", Chapter 13] As such, she is the most popular girl at Spence Acadamy, and in "A Great and Terrible Beauty" often hazes Gemma and Ann as a senior would do to those younger than her.

Felicity's father is Admiral Worthington, who is famous for his good looks and heroic deeds in the navy. He is also a pedophile. Felicity's mother is Lady Worthington, who left their family for a French artist in Paris. Felicity also has a younger cousin named Polly, who Admiral Worthington took in at the age of six. He also chronically abuses her. When, in "The Sweet Far Thing," Felicity and Gemma encounter her, she is severely depressed and seems to be confused about the difference between her and her doll, who Admiral Worthington tells her is a wicked reflection of herself.

Felicity also suffers from feelings of guilt and self-loathing because of her feelings for other girls. In the strict Victorian society, she has been told that homosexuality is wicked, and that she is "degenerate." She also feels guilt because of her father's sexual abuse of her, as a small child-- he told her that she " [brought] it out in him," and so Felicity grew up blaming herself and trying to believe that her father really did care about her as his child, and not just as something to abuse.

One of Felicity's most prominent characteristics is her promiscuity, which is mostly displayed in "A Great and Terrible Beauty." She licks Ann's cheek, kisses Gemma on the mouth, brags to her friends about how many men she has had, and regularly meets Ithal, a gypsy boy, in the woods. Although not proven, this can almost certainly be traced back to her abusive childhood, when after she grew to be 'too old,' her father completely ignored her.

Felicity's personality bears a strong resemblance to Gemma's mother's friend Sarah. Unfortunately, Sarah went mad when she felt that she was losing the power of the realms and became Circe. Sarah showed signs of paranoia and jealousy of Gemma's mother Mary, both of which Felicity has occasionally shown of Gemma, though she was quick to hide it (Gemma can enter the Realms on her own, but Felicity can only go if Gemma takes her, a fact she resents as she hates being dependent on anyone). Finally, Felicty's act of ruthlessly hunting and sacrificing a deer to gain access to the realms parallels Sarah's sacrifice of a Gypsy child; the parallel is heightened by the respective narrators' (Gemma and Mary) feelings of anxiety and foreboding.

Unlike Sarah, however, Felicity does not betray Gemma. Felicity has a strong sense of loyalty; when forced to permanently choose sides in "The Sweet Far Thing", Felicity stays with Gemma and Ann-- though Pippa, with whom she is in love, is on the opposing side. Felicity's loyalty comes out in many other ways-- she is always quick to defend her friends, both verbally and physically, when they are threatened in the Realms.


Felicity, though very rich, had a miserable childhood. Her father molested her, and Lady Worthington, Felicity's mother, largely ignored both this and everything else relating to her daughter. Admiral Worthington convinced his daughter, then a very small girl, that the abuse was her fault, not his, saying that she "brings it out in him." In "Rebel Angels", Felicity defends her father's actions, telling her friend Gemma that "he didn't mean it." When Felicity was quite young, just after a family holiday to Scotland, Lady Worthington left her husband and daughter and eloped to France with an artist, where she was a "paid consort" ["A Great and Terrible Beauty", Chapter 20] and ran an artist's salon. Felicity is forced to hide her mother's infidelity and abandonment; it cannot be known that Lady Worthington is a "courtesan" or a "whore."

Felicity is hurt by her mother's abandonment-- first in not doing anything when Felicity told her of Admiral Worthington's abuse, and later for " [running] away and leaving [Felicity] behind." ["A Great and Terrible Beauty", Chapter 16] Fee does not see her mother or father for three years at one point-- until Christmastime in 1895. Despite this, she holds out hope, while her mother is away, that "she will send for [Felicity] " (though, as Pippa points out, Lady Worthington "couldn't even be bothered to send anything for [Felicity's] birthday"). [A Great and Terrible Beauty", Chapter 16]

Quote box
quote = "They've planned our entire lives, from what we shall wear to whom we shall marry and where we shall live. It's one lump of sugar in your tea whether you like it or not and you'd best smile even if you're dying deep inside. We're like pretty horses, and just as on horses, they mean to put blinders on us so we can't look left or right but only straight ahead where they would lead."
source = Felicity explains what is expected of high-born girls in their society ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 50]
width = 300px
align = right

Felicity has attended Spence Academy ever since her mother ran off to Paris. At Spence, girls learn few subjects that will be useful to them, as fine ladies who needn't work for a living. Amongst other things, students study singing and ballroom dancing. Felicity, although quite intelligent and a perfectionist, is not especially good at either subject. She has proved proficient in French, however; Felicity's French is "absolutely flawless". ["A Great and Terrible Beauty", Chapter Nine] She also is a fairly talented painter, once painting a castle from the Realms into the "pastoral scenes befitting a paradise" that are to be used as decoration at a ball. ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 31]

However, while Felicity is not the most studious at the school, she is the brightest in many respects. She is fiercely loyal, though it is a rather contradictory statement as in the first book, she abandons Pippa in a heartbeat to keep Gemma from telling of her hazing act in which she commiserated Gemma to steal the vicar's wine. In other manners, however, Fee is intensely endearing. Most of the comic relief in the novels comes from her, especially her witty and sarcastic comments, as in "Rebel Angels" when she addresses Simon Middleton with: "Jaunty hat Simon, did you get it at a bandstand?" She also leads the other girls as sheep, pressing Ms. Moore for answers in the first novel, fighting the poppy warriors when even Gemma wants to give up and making up her own "Order" by forcing the girls to sneak out into a cave for their secret club.

Some people, however, see Fee as too harsh and demanding, when her dominant and usually bubbly personality takes a turn for the morose. However, her commanding attitude foreshadowed her past from the start, especially when she said, "No. No admirals," when asked about what kinds of men she would "have." Her promiscuous and sometimes bullying attitude is an obvious cry for attention from the two parents who ignore her. Instead, she has to turn to Gemma to find friendship and strength once again. One of the more interesting and engaging characters, she has depth and emotion that neither Ann nor Pippa ever have.

In the Realms, Felicity studies archery under a lone, Artemis-like huntress. While not initially perfect, Felicity, determined to be powerful, soon improves. In "Rebel Angels", a new teacher, Miss McCleethy, introduces archery to the students; Felicity, of course, is the best of the girls and claims that this is "because she expects to win." Felicity is revealed to be bisexual in the last book when she shares a passionate kiss with Pippa, before leaving the corrupt Pippa behind forever. Fee expects Ann and Gemma to "despise" her and agree that " [her] affections are unnatural." ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 57] Instead, Ann and Gemma stick by her.

Having lost her first love, Felicity doesn't think that she can love ever again, at least "not [as much as she loved Pippa] ." ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 57] At the end of The Sweet Far Thing, however, Felicity plans on going to Paris with her mother and Polly, where she hopes to meet "others like her" and suspects that she will, in time, be able to fall in love again. ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 57] In "A Great and Terrible Beauty", Felicity is the only girl to know what a "Sapphist" is, explaining to the others that "Sapphists prefer the love of women to men." ["A Great and Terrible Beauty", Chapter 15] Felicity appears to be bisexual, as she has had several romantic encounters with men throughout the course of the books. She also tells her friends that she has already, and intends "to have many men." ["A Great and Terrible Beauty", Chapter 13]

Felicity has many opinions that are, for her day and age, quite radical. She vows to have a "new suit of trousers... fashioned in Paris" and doesn't see why a woman "has to give up her name." ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 74] She also speaks of perhaps becoming a painter or an artist's model, once she lives in Paris. ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 72]

Felicity's suitors

*Ithal is a young, handsome Gypsy who lived in the woods near Spence in September of 1895. Felicity, infatuated with breaking rules, sometimes would meet Ithal in the woods. She was not as in love with him as Ithal was with her, however, and later insulted and ignored him, causing Ithal to leave the Spence campus, dejected. He returns later in "The Sweet Far Thing", showing an open dislike of Felicity before he is killed and captured by creatures from the Winterlands.
*The Honorable Simon Middleton "meant to court" Felicity, whom he had known his whole life. She refused him in 1894. As consequence, "he doesn't much care for" Felicity, ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 38] and goes on to court first Gemma and then Lucy Fairchild, an Ameican heiress to whom he later becomes engaged. ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 72]
*Horace Markham is the son of Felicity's sponsor, Lady Markham. It is planned that Felicity and Horace will become betrothed, but when Felicity reveals to Horace that she doesn't feel that way towards him, he tells her that he feels the same. ["The Sweet Far Thing", Chapter 72]

Pippa Cross

Infobox character
colour = Blue
colour text =
series =
name = Pippa Cross

caption =
first = "A Great and Terrible Beauty"
last = "The Sweet Far Thing"
cause =
creator = Libba Bray
portrayer =
episode =
nickname = Pip
alias =
species =
gender =
age = 17
born = c. 1878
death = September 1895
occupation = Student/Evil Ringleader
title = Miss
callsign =
family =
spouse =
children =
relatives =
residence = The Castle, Borderlands, the Realms

Pippa "Pip" Cross (c. 1878- September 1895) is one of the main characters in "A Great and Terrible Beauty", "Rebel Angels", and "The Sweet Far Thing", all by Libba Bray. Pippa is the most beautiful woman in Libba Bray's alternate world. She has violet eyes, perfectly curled dark hair (sometimes said to be brown; sometimes, black), and "an ivory face that could be from a cameo pin". She is also described as dainty and is said to have a 16.5 inch waist (when corseted). In Pippa's own words, "Being beautiful creates problems. It's misery."

Pippa's first name means "lover of horses" [ [ Pippa] ] . While it may have been short for Philippa, this is never stated in any of the novels. Pippa is not a very widely-used name and, though it comes from the Greek language, is predominantly an English name [ [ Pippa - Name Meaning and Origin] ] . Pippa's surname, Cross, refers to a place where to roads intersect, or where a cross could be erected-- also, often at a crossroads [ [ Cross: Surname Origin & Last Name Meaning] "Ancestor Search"] . This may refer to how torn Pippa is, between her duty (marriage) and desire (freedom to find true love). Later, after her death, Pippa will also fear to "cross over", from the Realms, into where-ever the dead go.


Pippa, like Felicity and Ann, did not have a happy childhood. Because of her good looks, "everyone wanted to own" Pippa, "constantly fussing over [her] so there was no room to breathe."

Pippa suffered from epilepsy, a fact that her mother insisted Pippa hide. If anyone knew that Pippa was not perfectly healthy, she would be unlikely to marry well. Pippa's mother told her that if she felt a fit "coming on", Pippa was to say that she had "a headache and excuse herself"-- something that, of course, would not be possible.

From a young age, probably about age seven, Pippa attended Spence Academy. Though she was easily the most beautiful-looking girl at the school, and one of the most popular, she did not stand-out for her wit. "I'm not clever like you are", Pippa once tells Ann. "I don't mean half of what I say."

Engagement and Death

On the September Assembly Day of 1895, Pippa became engaged to Mr Bartleby Bumble, Esquire. It was not a happy occasion for Pippa, but Pippa's family informs her that she must marry to save the family from ruin. Despite her daughter's longing for true love, Mrs. Cross insists that love, desire, and marriage are not at all related; she assures Pippa that, one day, she will thank her for insisting on the marriage to Mr Bumble.

A desperate Pippa is able to break off her engagement by telling Bumble of her illness. Bumble is described to see Pippa as a "fine piece of china" that he has purchased which has a very bad crack. He is relieved to know of this before the wedding and plans to forget about the wedding. However, when he informs Mr. and Mrs. Cross of his plans, they tell Mr. Bumble that Pippa got cold feet and lied about her condition. Mr. Bumble agrees again to marry her.

While the girls are in the realms, they are attacked by the creature that killed Gemma's mother. Pippa runs off and Gemma can only take Ann and Felicity back; Pippa remains trapped in the realms. In the real world, Pippa has had an epileptic fit and Gemma goes back to the realms to try and save her friend. She finds Pippa, but Pippa refuses to return to the real world where she is seen as no more than a pretty face to be sold the to highest bidder for a loveless marriage. Despite Gemma's insistence that the realms were "not a place to stay", being only a "place of dreams", Pip merely asks what would happen if she "chose the dream instead?" In an attempt to save herself from her horrible fate in the real world, Pippa eats berries from the realm, causing her real body, back at Spence, to die. Pippa then leaves Gemma, heading off with a knight in shining armor, a romantic fantasy she conjured up in an earlier trip to the realms. Pippa is buried wearing her engagement ring, to the displeasure of Mr. Bumble.


In "Rebel Angels", Pippa, who wants to stay in the beautiful realms forever, is being slowly corrupted, as do all spirits who decide to stay within the realms instead of crossing over. She learns she must either decide to cross over or join the other corrupted spirits in the Winterlands. Pippa, however is determined to stay in the realms and runs off to the Winterlands when she learns that Gemma will not help her with her magic.

When Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are visiting the realms in "The Sweet Far Thing", they find Pippa with a group of girls she claims to have saved from entering the Winterlands. Pippa leads the group of girls and attempts to teach them manners in a similar fashion that she was taught at Spence. Pippa asks Gemma to help her cross over from the realms into a 'heaven' like area but finds that she cannot because she has been in the realms too long. This causes her a great deal of distress and a guilt-ridden Gemma begins giving her an allowance of magic to help her get through the sadness. Pippa then grows more powerful after she gives sacrifices to the Tree of All Souls in the Winterlands. She decides that the realms have chosen her, and fights to keep Felicity with her forever and to have the girls follow her. She is destroyed when the ruined castle she and the other spirits live in crumbles, entombing her with it.

In "The Sweet Far Thing", it is officially revealed that Pippa and Felicity are in love when the two share a passionate kiss. In the same novel, it is stated by Gemma that Pippa was able to stay uncorrupted for so long because of the love that Pippa and Felicity shared.

Staff at Spence

Mrs. Eugenia Spence - The founder of Spence Academy for Young Girls. She is the most respected member of the Order. She sacrifices her own life for Sarah Rees-Toome and Mary Dowd. While in captivity of the Winterlands creatures, she is made as a sacrifice to the Tree of All Souls, which in turn corrupts her. She commands her creatures to go after Gemma Doyle in order to obtain the magic of the Realms.

Mrs. Lillian Nightwing- The headmistress of Spence's Academy for Girls. She was once a member of the Order, but her powers have since faded away. She is very loyal to her school, and protects it when under siege by the Winterlands creatures. She reveals to Gemma that she was once happily married, but her husband left her for no apparent reason.

Miss Hester Asa Moore ("Sarah Rees-Toome"/"Circe") - A teacher at Spence Academy who was formally Sarah Reese-Toome, presumed to be dead in the fire of the East Wing in 1871. She becomes the villain Circe who remains as the main antagonist of the story. She is thought to be killed by Gemma, but it is discovered that she is merely trapped in the realms forever. Gemma discovers that Circe is trapped in the well of eternity. As a result, Circe now knows almost everything about the realms. She counsels Gemma for the price of some magic. However, she later betrays Gemma and uses the magic to escape from the well. She tries to take the magic for herself, but she is captured in the Winterlands and sacrificed to the Tree of All Souls. When Gemma faces her choice with the Fates, she gives up her place to Circe, who would otherwise would have to continually wander in the mist.

Miss Claire McCleethy ("Sahirah Foster")- Miss McCleethy is one of the members of the Order. She is falsely accused of being Circe in the second book. In the final installment of the trilogy, Sahirah attempts to convince Gemma to hand over the power to the Order. Gemma discovers that she is in league with the Rakshana, who are also attempting to take the power of the realms for themselves. She hires Kartik to spy on Gemma, and is also in a romantic relationship with Hugo Fowlson, one of the brothers of the Rakshana. She is executed by Pippa as a sacrifice to the Borderlands.

Mademoiselle Polly LeFarge ("later Mrs. Stanton Hornsby Kent")- The French teacher at Spence. She is friendly and pleasant, and she attempts to get Gemma to apply herself and work harder with French. She marries a man named Inspector Kent.

Mr. Grunewald- Music instructor at Spence.

Reverend Waite- Local vicar at Spence. Marries Mademoiselle LeFarge and Inspector Kent.

Brigid- one of the servants at Spence. She is always kind to the girls, and is one of the sources for information that Gemma, Felicity, Ann, and Pippa require.

Other girls at Spence

Cecily Temple-a pale, pinch-faced girl who used to be very close to Felicity and Pippa but is now Felicity's rival after Felicity rejects her, and close friends with Elizabeth. Cecily is very conceited and snobbish and thinks very poorly of Gemma and Ann.

Elizabeth Poole-a tiny, rat-like girl, who only offers her opinion after everyone else has, who is friends with Cecily.

Martha Hawthorne-an older girl in Gemma's class who tries to gain favor with the others, especially with Felicity, and then with Cecily.

= Members of the Order =

Eugenia Spence- Born on May the 6th. The founder of Spence's School for Girls. She was also a great priestess for the Order. She saves Mary Dowd and Sarah Rees-Toome in the fire at the East Wing by giving her life in exchange for theirs. It is found out in The Sweet Far Thing that she was taken and corrupted by the Tree of All Souls. She is the primary antagonist for the final book.

Virginia Doyle ("Mary Dowd")- Gemma's mother. On Gemma's sixteenth birthday, Virginia is confronted by a shadowy spirit and consequently commits suicide. This action sends Gemma to Spence Academy, where she learns the truth of her mother's history by reading the diary of a girl named Mary Dowd. Mary is part of the Order along with her friend is Sarah Rees-Toome. After a fire destroys the Eastern wing of Spence Academy, Mary adopts the name of Virginia and eventually marries John Doyle.

Wilhelmina Wyatt - Schoolmate of Sarah Reese-Toome and Mary Dowd, and related to Eugenia. She was mute and communicated by writing on a tablet. She was chastised as a girl for being able to "see into the dark." She runs away from Spence and becomes a magicians assistant. Before she left she stole the dagger that was being protected at Spence. Found dead in the Thames river, she appears in visions and dreams to Gemma.

Note: Miss McCleethy is also a member of the Order, but have been chronicled above.

The Rakshana

Amar- Kartik's brother, who is killed in "A Great and Terrible Beauty". He also shows up as a warrior in the Winterlands in "The Sweet Far Thing".

Hugo Fowlson- Miss McCleethy's lover and 'henchman' for the Rakshana. Helps Gemma in The Sweet Far Thing by going with her into the Realms to destroy the Tree Of All Souls

Lord Denby- Father of Simon Middleton (who was turned down when he had attempted to court both Felicity and Gemma). He is one of the most powerful members of the Rakshana and attempts to steal the magic from Gemma.


In "A Great and Terrible Beauty", Kartik is initially a member of the Rakshana and is given the task of watching Gemma Doyle and preventing her from entering the Realms. He lives with the Gypsies who camp on Spence's grounds. He also shows an interest in Pippa Cross, but later shows a slight interest in Gemma. They share a kiss, even though Gemma is the one who kisses Katrik as a means of distraction, not because of love. When Pippa dies, he visits Gemma at Pippa's funeral. Having failed his mission, Kartik is called back to London to be reviewed by the Rakshana.

In the second novel, "Rebel Angels", Kartik is once again given a task by the Rakshana. He must convince Gemma to find the Temple of the Realms, and bind the magic to the name of the Eastern Star, which is the Rakshana. In order to keep an eye on her, Kartik becomes a driver to the Doyle family, and begins to fall in love with Gemma. His advances are rejected however, and being hurt, he leaves. Later on, Gemma is kidnapped, and he comes to her rescue, and leaves the brotherhood of the Rakshana. He decides to form an alliance with Gemma and her friends.

Kartik's absence at the beginning of "The Sweet Far Thing" does not go unnoticed by Gemma. His return brings about bad news for Gemma, and he says that he does not wish for their lives to cross again. However, Gemma sees his brother Amar in the realms, which makes him stay, and convinces him to arrange a meeting between them and the Rakshana. Gemma finds out later that he is working for Miss McCleethy and Fowlson, however, Kartik says he has but did not wish to. Gemma is angry about this and will not talk to him for a some time but later forgives him. Kartik accompanies Gemma to the realms, where they perform a union ceremony which is a legend of the Order and the Rakshana. He is upset at the sight of his brother's corrupted soul, and later returns to kill him once and for all. In an attempt to save Gemma's life after Amar stabs her Kartik kisses her for the last time to absorb the power into his own body. He is absorbed into the tree, thus it is as if he is dead. When Gemma returns to the realms for the last time, she discovers that when the wind rustles the tree's branches, she can hear her name. His final appearance in the novel is in Gemma's dreams, and is waving to her from the other side of the river (presumably the afterlife), waiting for her.

Creatures of the Realms:

Centaurs and Forest People:

Philon-Leader of the Forest People.

Creostus-A Centaur who is skeptical of Gemma and the other girls.

Neela- A shape shifter whose trust is not easy to gain. In "The Sweet Far Thing" it is revealed that she killed Creostus and blamed the Hajin for the crime.


Asha-Leader of Hajin.

The Hajin helped guard the Temple for the Order. The Hajin are looked down upon by others in the Realms.


The Gorgon was bound to a ship by the Order for leading a rebellion. She was bound to tell the truth to Order members. In "The Sweet Far Thing", she gets back to her original form to help Gemma in the Winterlands. She is also the last of her kind in the Realms.

Girls who died in the Factory Fire:

Bessie Timmons - A young girl killed and burned in factory fire. Lives with Pippa, Mae, and Wendy in the Borderlands. She is mean to the other girls (mainly Wendy) but looks up to Pippa a great deal.

Mae Sutter - A young girl killed in the factory fire. She lives with Pippa, Bessie, and Wendy in the Borderlands.

Wendy - A young girl blinded by the fire. She has a pet rabbit named Mr. Darcy, who was later sacrifed by Pippa, and lives with Pippa in the Borderlands. Bessie is often mean to her, and the other girls are frightened by her because she talks about hearing screaming they can't hear (which comes from the Winterlands). When Gemma and Ann come to make Felicity come back from the Realms, Gemma notices Wendy isn't there. Gemma demands to know what happened to her, to which Pippa tells her that Wendy was 'a nuisance'. Mercy admits that Pippa brought Wendy to the Winterlands.

Mercy Paxton - A young girl of about thirteen who also lives with Pippa, Mae, Bessie, and Wendy in the Borderlands. She seems to be the nicest to Wendy, and was the one who told Gemma what Pippa had done.

Winterland Creatures

They are corrupt souls who could not or would not cross over. They lived in the Winterlands.

Poppy Warriors

They are warriors that can turn into crows. Gemma, Ann, and Felicity have a rough encounter with them in their search for the Temple.

Members of Society:

Lord Denby- A man very high up in society. He is later discovered to be a member of the Rakshana in The Sweet Far Thing.

Lady Denby- Lord Denby's wife. Thought very highly of in society. Dislikes Lady Worthington, Felicity's mother, due to her affair in France.

Simon Middleton- A man who briefly courted Gemma in Rebel Angels, and Felicity prior to the start of the series. Both girls refuse him, and he is later seen courting Miss Lucy Fairchild.

Miss Lucy Fairchild- A girl of high society who comes from Chicago, Illinois. She is later courted by Simon Middleton.

Lady Markham- A friend of Lady Denby's, who eventually sponsors Felicity in her debut.

Horace Markham- Lady Markham's son who was briefly engaged to Felicity. It is later discovered that he feels nothing for her, as she does him, and the engagement is called off.

Admiral Worthington- Felicity's father. He is famous for his heroic deeds in the navy, and is highly worshiped by men for his heroism, and women for his "painfully handsome face." He is also a pedophile.

Other Characters

Mother Elena- An elderly gypsy woman who is mildly insane after the kidnapping and murder of her daughter, Carolina, by Mary Dowd and Sarah Rees-Toome.

John Doyle- Gemma's father and Virginia Doyle's husband. After Virginia's death, he is so bereaved he develops an addiction to laudanum. Gemma tries to make the pain go away, but then he becomes addicted to opium. At the end of "The Sweet Far Thing" he is diagnosed with tuberculosis and moves back to India, where he lived in the beginning of "A Great and Terrible Beauty".

Thomas Henry Doyle- Gemma's older brother, also known as Tom, hopes to marry a proper, wealthy woman. He is recruited by the Rakshana in order to get to Gemma. Materialistic and proper, Tom does not have a good relationship with Gemma in "A Great and Terrible Beauty" and "Rebel Angels", though this changes when he learns more about her in "The Sweet Far Thing".

Eleanor "Nell" Hawkins- An "insane" girl with delusions about the Order. Gemma discovers (through visions with three girls) that the three girls were to be Miss Moore's second attempt at a sacrifice, which still wasn't adequate. She did not want to sacrifice Nell Hawkins, as she became attached to her. Nell is forced into insanity in an attempt to block her mind from "the thing." Gemma kills Nell after Miss Moore attempts to sacrifice her once more, thus making her useless.

Theodore van Ripple (aka Robert Sharpe): An illusionist and thief who was great friends with Mina Wyatt, his former assistant. He is in possession of a slate used by Miss Wyatt that later is a clue in "The Sweet Far Thing" to the mystery of Eugenia Spence.

Lily Trimble: A famous American actress. Lily is considered a beauty and Ann looks up to her.


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