Published by Razorbill on April 5th 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…
Aaah! I feel such conflict! Richelle Mead is such a hit or miss author with me, and for the first time, I feel unsure over one of her books. Did I love The Glittering Court or did I hate it?
To really understand the book, you need to erase much of what the official synopsis is telling you. It’s true, The Glittering Court is much like Kiera Cass’s book The Selection for about 1/2 of the time. Not all of those bits in The Glittering Court were bad, but where the book really shined was when it got into its religious stride.
Reminding me of her series, The Age Of X, The Glittering Court shows us once more how Mead studied folklore and historical religion in university. In this, her latest book, the world’s mainstream religious belief centers upon worshipping a host of pure and principled angles. However, there is a heretical movement of belief that reveres a number of fallen angels as well. These heretics, Alanzans, are put to death when discovered. Despite this, they continue to practice their earthier, more passionate belief system in secret.
I loved the parts with the Alanzans. Sexy religion? Say yeah! If the book had more about them, I doubtlessly would have bumped up my rating. As it was, much of the stuff that interested me was choked by talk of ball gowns, jewels, horny sugar daddies, and thirsty sugar babies. Blah.
The book follows Elizabeth/Adelaide, who is a runaway Countess. She was engaged to her cousin, unwillingly, and when she stumbles upon an opportunity to start a new life, she takes it! Posing as a low-born girl, Elizabeth, now Adelaide, is recruited for the Glittering Court, a business venture that grooms young ladies into respectable brides for new-money bachelors on the new continent of
Adelaide enjoys her life of adventure, but she goes along with the ride in no small part due to Cedric, the son of one of the Glittering Court’s owners. This relationship was insta-lovey in the extreme, and even though their pairing was entertaining and seemed… true, I did think Adelaide put too much on the line too soon for their relationship. Nevertheless, I though Cedric was an intriguing character, a budding businessman with liberal values.
Where the book faltered, in my opinion, was its final fourth. It was rather abrupt, and didn’t exactly have a tonal precedent, if that makes sense. Here’s what I mean: View Spoiler »We get a California/Klondike setting with jolty wagons, stinky horses, and dirty fingernails completely out of the blue. What?! What happened to the Glittering Court?!? « Hide Spoiler And the denouement! God Almighty, so many deus ex machina were coming through the stage traps, there was, like, a traffic jam of plot devices. That was… it was bad.
But here’s something that came out of the blue in a good way… Kristen Sieh, the narrator for the audiobook of The Glittering Court does an incredible job. For all of Mead’s bad choices in dialogue — “Um, yeah” — Sieh was there to save the day, making the words seem aristocratic, confiding, and humorous all in turn. I can’t emphasize enough how much she classed up the book. Bravo, Kristen Sieh. *Standing Ovation*
So, I’m not going to recommend this one. But still, over The Selection, it is a step up.