Title: The Glittering Court
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: The Glittering Court #1
Format: Digital ARC, 416 pages
Publication Details: April 5th 2016 by Razorbill
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.
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…
I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Glittering Court. I really enjoyed some of Mead’s Vampire Academy books but this sounded like a huge departure from that. It does however have a stronger fantasy element than I expected from the synopsis.
In a nutshell, our protagonist runs away from an unwanted arranged marriage by pretending to be her servant Adelaide. Adelaide has been invited to join the Glittering Court, a kind of a finishing school / brothel where poor but pretty women are educated and polished up in order to be sold off to the growing number of noblemen in ‘The New World’. The only problem is that ‘Adelaide’ already knows everything there is to know about being a lady and mustn’t be discovered.
I like Richelle Mead’s writing a lot; it feels so effortless making it easy to get swept away, which is what happened here. In fact it was going pretty great, along with a nice potential love interest between Adelaide and Cedric – until that is – we’re hit with a whole religious angels-vs-demons-secret-heathen-backstory/infodump thing. Ugh.
I mean, the religions were touched on very briefly at the beginning and I realised that the Glittering Court wasn’t just a case of being set in the past, but in a different world, yet it still felt very out of the blue and unnecessary to me. I thought it was a perfectly good story without trying to put a fantasy spin on it.
Overall, The Glittering Court was enjoyable, but not without its faults. The world-building wasn’t thorough enough for me and it felt confused. The fantasy elements seemed to have been dumped in at the last minute.
However, it was still fun and I’m interested to see if the companion novels shed more light on what Mead was trying to achieve here.