May 18, 2016
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…
This title was provided to us by the Publisher/Author. We were in no way compensated for our review(s).
As a reader who was been devoted to author Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Bloodlines novels, I was happy to get reading her latest novel The Glittering Court. The novel sounded promising. A period drama that had to do with a noblewoman abandoning her duties in exchange for a life that she actually desires? It sounded like a very promising read.
Set in the country of Osfrid, Alice is a countess who is aware that she will be married off shortly in hopes of maintaining her family’s so-called fortune. Entering an unwanted arranged marriage, she concocts a desperate plan that comes in the form of taking on one of her servant’s identities. Playing the role of ‘Adelaide’, the countess enters the Glittering Court, a school dedicated to transforming common girls into ladies of the upper-class.
Doing her best to fly below the school’s radar and keep from calling attention to her person, Adelaide finds herself caught up with the handsome Cedric Thorn, son of the Glittering Court’s proprietor. Preparing to make the journey overseas to the New World, Adelaide will have to make decisions that will effect more than just her future, as she tries to decide between her duties and her heart’s desires.
I had very high hopes for The Glittering Court. I find the Elizabethan era to be enchanting and I was so excited to find out what Mead would do with it. What I will say is that I enjoyed the world building elements of the novel. Considering that The Glittering Court takes place in a timeline that mirrors our own, the way that Mead introduces readers to her world, and its many social norms and cultures, I found Osfrid and Adoria to be wonderful. Readers who appreciate the effort that authors put into creating a perfect setting will enjoy this aspect of the novel.
However, I did feel that the narrative was lacking. The novel was far more tell than show. The pacing felt inconsistent and all in all, I found Adelaide’s head to be a very dull and dry place. She didn’t feel very real to me. Her thoughts held little personality and I was constantly seeking out flaws in her character that simply didn’t exist. She was the type of narrator whose head wasn’t very exciting to be in and made me all the more aware of how slow-paced the plot was.
I had expected for the novel to spend more time focusing on the Glittering Court and perhaps even look at the dangers that the girls face as they are competing against each other. However, Adelaide spends only a small section of the novel actually learning at the Glittering Court and facing off against the other girls before she’s shipped off to Adoria. The Glittering Court itself felt very Mean Girls-ish and contrived.
The romance in the novel also wasn’t something I was very invested in. I didn’t like Cedric and I felt like there was far too much insta-love going on. The relationship between him and Adelaide was one that I could have easily done without. Also, his dark secret held so much potential to become a dangerous plot device, and I felt it wasn’t conveyed as well as it could have been.
I would recommend The Glittering court to readers who want a period drama. Any readers who want a novel that has wonderful world building should also give it a shot. Readers who are dedicated fans of Mead’s works should also give it a try. Just because this novel didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you!