(The Glittering Court #1)
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 find that usually with Richelle Mead novels the horror inducing title and subsequent cover do not reflect the book’s content. However, I could not have been more wrong. This novel focuses solely on the trivial activities of women seeking spouses in the New World and had none of the exciting action sequences I have come to expect from Mead’s novels.
The portrayal of Adelaide as cunning and resourceful was shoddy at best. She had her moments in the spotlight, where she was abrasive and cutting in the protection of her friends but those moments were rare. Furthermore, while I did enjoy Adelaide’s character development, going from a lady in silk to working in rags, I found her boring. I could not find it in myself to care about her future and painstakingly made my way through this novel and its continuous string of trivialities.
The ending of the novel felt hasty and tied up all the loose ends much too neatly, while leaving many questions unanswered. In fact, I was confused by the series of events that led to the downfall of this story’s villain and I would have liked to see Adelaide play a bigger role in her villain’s demise.
The romance was stilted and lacked any real chemistry. Cedric and her fell into an all consuming love that drove them to extreme sacrifices to be together. And despite the book spanning more than a year it still felt fast paced and hollow. Which is unfortunate since the majority of the novel rested on their romance.
I was actually less interested in the romance than in the development of the female friendships in this novel. I would have liked more focus to have been placed on the friendship between Tamsin, Mira and Adelaide. And while this was still a vital facet of Adelaide’s story I would have liked if it had been brought to the forefront of the novel. I believe that the following two novels will be from Tamsin or Mira’s point of view. However, I am uninterested in pursuing either storyline further.