The Glittering Court #1
by Richelle Mead
Published on April 5, 2016 by Razorbill
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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 should have DNFed this book ages ago.
It should be noted that Richelle Mead is one of my favorite authors and up until her most recent releases (i.e. Soundless) that held true. But I held faith in her other books so I picked this up.
I mean, honestly, did anything happen in this book? ANYTHING? I couldn’t care less about the protagonist, Adelaide, or her messed up logic. Though a countess, she’s short on funds and doesn’t want to marry to save face and have a steady income once more so clearly the best choice is to go off and enter into a contract that all but forces her to marry someone else in the new world.
Makes TOTAL sense.
On and on, Adelaide makes these stupid decisions that made zero sense to me. I’m not really sure what the whole point was of The Glittering Court because for two-thirds of the story it’s just Adelaide pretending not to know anything about being a lady and the rest is this romance-thing that was awful.
Really, if you’re going to have a romance, at least make it good. Which, for the record, generally involves an interesting, if not likable, protagonist and a love interest who isn’t more than a stand-in to create tension and trouble in the story.
I honestly found no interest in any of the characters, though, except for wondering where Mira kept disappearing to and later what happened to Tamsin (up until that point she was just annoying).
This world Mead creates is that of a country colonizing a new world. Huh, wonder where I’ve heard that before… I mean, it’s not a unique concept but the way this is written almost reads like historical fiction with different country names. Perhaps that’s why the lack of world-building wasn’t as big an issue for me as the plot and characters — my brain just filled in the blanks. The only thing that I found weird was the basis of the whole story: young women who essentially become a form of mail-order bride, entering into a contract where men buy them to be their wives. This is something right of a history book but seemed an unusual and not entirely logical choice for Adelaide to pursue for her future.
The short of that? This isn’t really fantasy. At least not in the magical sense. If that’s what you’re looking for, steer clear. The world is made up but the events read like history.
Also, can we talk about how even the women in this book think poorly of their own sex? That the idea of offering oneself to a complete stranger is perfectly acceptable. Even Adelaide sees nothing wrong with it.
Alright, so… where does this leave The Glittering Court? No character development, and starting off with boring characters to begin with. Little world-building. Sexist. Boring. Just. Boring.
My only hope is that the rest of the series gets better, not that I’m sure if I’ll pick up future books with how this one went. While I enjoyed Mead’s earlier YA titles, and loved her adult ones, I think I’ll just stick to the latter now and save myself the trouble. There’s no way I can recommend this book so if you’re looking to read any of this author’s work, I recommend checking out her books prior to this and Soundless.