Summary: Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.
Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.
When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide's deception. Complications soon arise - first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.
But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands...
Date Published: April 5, 2016
Published By: Razorbill
Number of Pages: 400
It's nice to see Richelle Mead, author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series, try her hand at writing a completely different kind of fantasy. You won't find any sexy vampires in The Glittering Court. The only thing that really makes it fantasy instead of historical fiction is that Mead assigned different names to all the countries and the established religion is slightly different. While it was interesting to see the parallels between the world of the book and established historical fact, I would have loved to see a bit more inventiveness when Mead created her fantasy world.
The main characters are likable enough but I had trouble connecting with them. The romance between Adelaide and Cedric was a bit predictable and I couldn't really sense a lot of romantic tension between them. Their relationship seemed to develop too quickly.
There is a sense of incompleteness to this novel - which is understandable seeing as the next two books in the series will tell the story from the POVs of two other characters. I could tell that there was something else going on behind the scenes - it was intriguing but also a little bit frustrating.
The ending is a bit of a mess. It seemed to be all over the place and with those missing POVs, there was no sense that all of the loose ends were tied up neatly. I realize she can't give everything away and has to maintain a sense of mystery for the future installments but it just left me feeling disappointed.
Here's what I liked: Mead continues to evolve as a writer and her descriptions are so vivid that I found the story playing like a movie in my head. There were some sentences in here that dazzled me. I also liked the feminist aspect of the book. I loved how the friendship between the three girls was portrayed in the first half of the book even though that aspect kind of got shoved aside in the second half.
I feel Richelle Mead is experimenting a little bit with this series and I applaud her for taking risks. However, there is room for improvement in the series and I'm looking forward to seeing what she does in the next two installments.