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…
The Glittering Court is unlike any of Richelle Mead’s other works. So, do not expect another Vampire Academy or Bloodlines when you read this.
Adelaide is a strong heroine, which is evidenced by the great amount of fight within her. She fights for her friends, she fights for love, and most importantly, she fights for herself. She’s witty, opinionated, and caring—the perfect counterpart to Cedric, the Glittering Court owner’s son, who is also witty, opinionated, and caring (and definitely swoon-worthy). Adelaide and Cedric’s connection is felt from the very beginning, and as a reader, you root for them.
While the romantic aspect of this story was satisfying, it was really the female friendship between Adelaide, Tamsin, and Mira that I enjoyed the most. The three girls are complete opposites, but they mesh so well. Tamsin is feisty and ambitious while also being sentimental. Mira is quiet, strong, and wise, but I suspect she is also a dreamer. The endless support and love they all have for one another is admirable.
But ultimately, this was only an “okay” read for me. It took too long for me to experience the feelings/thoughts described above. The pacing was a little too slow for me at times to the point where I was SO BORED and I wanted to move on to another book, but I stuck with it because that’s just how I read. The book is not quite the fantasy one expects it to be either, as the setting was a mix between old Elizabethan and new frontier culture. But I imagine the next two books will be able to establish themselves more quickly as the majority of the world building has already been done in The Glittering Court.
Adelaide’s storyline is resolved by the end of this book, so there is no worrying about an agonizing cliffhanger. Despite my low rating, my interest grew in the end. So I do intend to read the next two books, which I expect will follow Tamsin and Mira—both of whom are still an intriguing mystery.
Overall, if you like books with historical settings, sweet romance, and strong female characters, then I think you may want to go grabby-hands and pick up this book for yourself! But if you need a read that grabs you from the start and never lets go, then this may not be the read for you.