A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Big and sweeping, spanning 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 capable of arranging 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 later, 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’ve not been a long time Mead fan though the books I have read (some of The Vampire Academy and her adult books) I’ve really enjoyed. I was over-joyed to be able to read this book early and dived right in.
I honestly had no clue what to expect but the cover looked rather fantasy-esq. I also love the title and had a great feeling about how this reading experience would be. I immediately became immersed in the story and world. The story begins with Lady Whitmore, our heroine, realizing that her life is about to take a turn she’s not very keen on. Due to the sorry state of her family’s financials she’s being arranged to marry a stogy, boring sort whom also happens to be a cousin. Unable to tolerate that outcome for her life, she steals the identity of her maid, Adelaide, and joins the Glittering Court.
I don’t know why I thought this book would have a more fantasy feel to it or why there would be something supernatural going on but you should know-it does not. This book does take place in a ‘fantasy’ world but really it’s not s0 different from our own. The story read more like historical fiction (ranging from Elizabethan feel to pioneer) meets The Selection. Does this sound like an odd mix? It IS. But somehow Mead makes it all work. The book was rather thick but it read fairly quickly and enough goes on that I was invested.
I will say that there’s a lot of talk about high society, lady-like manners, dresses, etc. The characters are all driven to excel in the Glittering Court and land a wealthy husband. The Glittering Court takes those of lesser fortunes, educates them, and teaches them manners and how to be lady-like (large scale My Fair Lady). once the women are ‘trained’ they are dressed to impress and sent by boat to the new world where they will be at the height of society.
There’s a bit of an ick factor at the idea of landing a suitor to save the poor, impoverished girl but really the characters and writing take this idea and delve into it. I felt that the book had just the right touch of social commentary. I don’t know if it was meant to but I read it there. Adelaide and her closest friends at the Glittering Court refuse to stand by and have their lives dictated. They want control of their destiny.
I liked that this book had me questioning each of the girls motives on why they decided to join up and to actually wonder- would I have in their place? The father and son team that run the Glittering Court were also of interest. What type of person facilitates and in reality ‘sells’ these women. I was unable to not like Cedric (the son) though I did stop to wonder why he’d be involved in the venture. The further I read though the more I got to know his character and, like I said, I was really fond of him. And, as the summary informs you, Adelaide and Cedric have some love sparks.
I thought their relationship was really well done. They had great dialog and chemistry and their scenes together were some of my very favorites. The two really understood one another and I love the way that they grew together and separately as the story progressed.
The side characters were very present and developed though I never connected as deeply to them as I did to Adelaide and Cedric. For me, this was their story. I looked forward to reading about those two the most and looked forward to each scene they shared. I do see the side characters, especially Adelaide’s room-mates and closest friends, really being accessible to readers.
Ok, I mentioned the setting going from Elizabethan to pioneer? That was easiest the strangest part of the story, though Mead was able to seamlessly combine the two. I can’t go into it too much detail just know that the New World has some rough and tough areas and some more civilized towns. It had a very ‘old west’ or pioneer feel to it all. There’s even the hunt for gold! It was really impressive that Mead was able to add so much into this one book and it really has left me curious to see where things will go.
The Glittering Court was a really unique book that focused on a strong lead character working to change the path of her life. I loved the jump in setting from Elizabethan to pioneer/wild west/gold rush and felt that the character dialog and chemistry was spot on. I was a tad disappointed that there wasn’t a supernatural or fantasy slant to this book. Once I was able to align my expectations to the reality-I was easily absorbed and invested.