Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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…
“We’re all in charge of our own lives—and we have to live with the consequences of the choices we make.”
Richelle Mead's The Glittering Court is the first book in a brand new trilogy by the same name. This story follows the Countess of Rothford as she tries to reinvent herself as another person by taking the identity of one of her ladies in waiting. As one of the peeress of the realm, Countess of Rothford would appear to have everything she wants. That she has no control over her finances, which are in disarray, or the desire to be married to the person she really loves, doesn't matter in the overall scheme of things.
With her own grandmother Lady Alice Witmore having full control of her life, the Countess finds herself engaged to marry someone she has no feelings for, at all. When a man named Cedric Thorn arrives with an offer for her lady in waiting, she makes a deal with the girl and then flees into the dark of the night. Taking the name Adelaide Bailey, she travels with Cedric and two other girls who become her friends, Tamsin Wright and Mirabel, to the Glittering Court where they will spend one year learning everything that a highborn lady is expected to know before traveling to the new world called Adoria.
The one main issue that my friends and I have had with this story is the fact that it reads more like a historical romance novel than a fantasy one. There is absolutely no magic in this book. There is nothing paranormal or supernatural about this book. The story reads as though new settlers have come to colonial America looking for a new beginning. There is the whole aspect of digging for gold in the mountains and rivers that makes this more of a historical story fantasy. There are even PIRATES! Hello my lovely adorable pirates!
My general feeling is that this story originated in either an country like England or France, and goes from there. The colonies have a glut of men, and very few women for them to choose as wives. Therefore, the women of the Glittering Court may have the advantage of choosing who they want, rather then being forced. The idea that the Countess would reinvent herself in order to travel to the new world, which I am again calling the colonies, is pretty straightforward but in a way, doesn't make all that sense.
Then again, I am not the Countess. I am not going to be put into a loveless relationship where my husband, excuse me, his grandmother would control my every move along with my access to my money. At least by becoming part of The Glittering Court, Adelaide can choose who she wants as her husband thanks to her status after her training. It also helps that she is decidedly much better off than the other girls in the Court when it comes to understanding the general world, and how it works.
Even if that means allowing herself to fall for one of the only people to know who she really is; Cedric Thorn. Right from the start, there was something that really intrigued me about the possibility of Cedric and the Countess. I dare say that Cedric even stands sentinel in protecting her from those less desirable until things come to a head. One of the things I loved best about Adelaide was the fact that she really does try to reinvent herself by keeping below the radar, and doing just enough to put herself in the middle of the pack.
I loved that Mead kept Adelaide's real identity a secret for a majority of the book until something silly happens that forces her to make difficult choices. When she is revealed as being Elizabeth Witmore, the Countess of Rothford, it is because it is an necessary choice to save the one she loves. There are a whole lot of things that get thrown into this story like religious prosecution, and where a person is from. There is also a deep secret about Mira that I haven't quite figured out yet, but have made guesses as to what she's been up to.
I love that Elizabeth, Tamsin, and Mira pretty much stay close as friends throughout their journey's. Yes, there are some ups and downs, but everyone is allowed to make their own mistakes and understand the consequences for their own actions. I dare say that I have peeked at other reviews that have throttled this book for being another The Selection. In fact, certain outlets have compared this to The Selection meets Reign. As I have never read the series, and gave up the TV show, I will move past that comparison quickly.
So, let's put this review to bed. I love Elizabeth/Adelaide. It takes a certain amount of guts to reinvent yourself and choose an entirely different destiny when you have a title that everyone covets. I understand the issue with the dresses, and dangers, etc. that have caused reviewers to sneer. I really do. Sometimes authors get too caught up on the mundane, and ignore the other issues at hand. At 416 pages, I dare say that it could have been around 370 without all the silliness.
There is a whole lot of secrecy behind both Tamsin and Mira, and that, my friends, is why I intend to read the sequel. Per Goodreads, each book in this trilogy is self-standing and told from a different characters point of view. So, that means that Tamsin and Mira's adventures will be featured in the next two books.