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 had been having trouble focusing on reading to I wanted something light; this definitely fit the bill.
I had a really hard time categorizing this book, it wasn’t fantasy, it wasn’t historical fiction . . . but I felt like it should have been. With the obvious parallels between Adoria and the American colonies, Osfrid and the UK, the want of eligible young women in this new world, and the tensions between the natives and colonizers. . . not to mention the Puritan like colonies in the north, and the Rhode Island like colony being founded for religious freedom . . .why didn’t Mead just do a little research and go ahead and make it historical fiction?
Besides my confusion, this was actually pretty good. I have had Vampire Academy on my TBR for a while, so maybe I will finally give that a go. The main characters are well developed and pleasantly mature. There was a refreshing lack of hormonal angst, and our characters are resigned to the fact that they probably won’t end up together because sometimes that’s just how life works.
I did think the ‘selling’ of the girls, outside of a historical context, would be perceived in a negative light by readers, but from the reviews I saw no one seemed to have much of a problem with it. I do think there was a good introduction to it all, each of the girls willingly signed up for this, and were treated well the whole time. Add that to Cedric’s constant reassurance that the girls would have the ultimate say on who they wed, and the innuendo that they were checked up on after their marriages to make sure they weren’t being mistreated, and Mead does well to make this sensitive topic comfortable and even positive.
I was a bit disappointed when our main conflict was brought about solely for revenge, and the larger political subterfuge wasn’t a driver. That apparently is something that the next book gets into. However, the following two books cover the same story line, but from the POVs of Mira and Tamsin; and I don’t think I liked this book enough to relive the same events two more times. We’ll see what the reviews are like.