Author: Richelle Mead
Publication date: April 5th 2016
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
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…
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)
I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself enjoying The Glittering Court more than I expected myself to. What I originally thought would be a shallow and simple novel turned out to be a lot more nuanced and multi-layered. There were parts that were boring and just okay but the moments that shined made up for them; as corny as it may sound, this novel really did glitter.
The first few chapters were hard to get into because of how vapid the whole scenario seemed and "Adelaide" wasn't really interesting enough to make those boring moments better; but as the story slowly progressed, parts of Adelaide unfolded and showed deep and intimate parts of her. We've all heard stories of noble ladies wanting to escape the mundane life of being rich and finding a way to do something really exciting but with the way Richelle Mead characterised Adelaide, it made her different from the typical runaway-noble-lady trope. Sure she joined the Glittering Court to find a rich husband but the different facets of Adelaide will make you realise that there's so much more to her than being a countess. She was only able to show her wit, snark and guile when she joined the Court and those aspects of her made me like her all the more. I really enjoyed the scenes wherein she had to downplay her abilities when it came to etiquette and other courtly activities because in a way, she was also learning from her fellow Glittering Court ladies. There was really a lot of character growth in Adelaide and that contributed to the progression of the story, allowing it to be more open.
Romance wise, I liked the pacing of how the relationship between Cedric and Adelaide progressed. It wasn't an instant love, it was slow, tension-filled and insanely sweet. It was great to see how they started off as friends then pretty much became comrades sharing a mutual interest (and some secrets). And even more than their romance, I liked that Richelle Mead knew when to let the ball finally dropped, she didn't drag it for too long nor did she let it happen too fast; also, she left room for the plot to develop, she didn't completely stay in the whole Glittering Court/Cedric and Adelaide romance, there were a lot of small details that proved to be significant later into the story.
I honestly thought that this story would only be about Adelaide and her journey to love and riches but wow, there were so many more things that happened that I did not see coming (the blurb wasn't very forthcoming, which made the experience all the more enjoyable, seeing the different events unfold). There were a number of issues that popped up in the book, relating to religion, a little bit of politics and some other unexpected issues. Richelle Mead tackled them all efficiently and didn't try to micromanage everything; she gave each part room to be explained and resolved but also left some aspects of them open to interpretation.
The minor characters in the book also contributed to its success, in my opinion. The dynamic between Mira and Adelaide was great, their friendship was subtle and quiet but definitely took up a lot of space. I'm very excited to read Mira's book and see all the stuff mentioned in The Glittering Court about her get cleared up. However, I'm still apprehensive about Tamsin, I spent majority of the book disliking her attitude so the shift in her in the latter part of the novel took me by surprise so I'm not too sure what to feel about her. The characters each had a role to play and to me, they executed their performances perfectly.
I'm really looking forward to seeing what's next in store for the girls of the Glittering Court and whose book will be next (will it be Mira's? Or Tamsin's?). I really enjoyed The Glittering Court and it's great to see Richelle Mead deviate from her typical Paranormal/Urban Fantasy genres.