For a select group of girls, the Glittering Court offers a shot at a life they’ve only ever dreamed of, one of luxury, glamour, and leisure. To high-born Adelaide, whose wealthy family is forcing her into a loveless marriage, the Glittering Court represents something else: the chance to chart her own destiny, and adventure in an unspoiled, prosperous new land across the sea.
After a chance meeting with the dazzling Cedric Thorn, Adelaide poses as a servant to join the crop of impoverished girls he promises to transform into proper ladies. But her familiarity with upper class life comes with a price: she must hide her identity from her new friends, mysterious refugee Mira and fiery former laundress Tamsin, and most importantly, from Cedric himself—even though she’s falling in love with him.
Everything begins to crumble when Cedric discovers Adelaide’s ruse, and she catches the eye of a powerful young governor, who wants her for a wife. She didn’t leave the gilded cage of her old life behind just to become someone else’s property. But nothing is as daunting—or as wonderful—as the potent, forbidden attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. One that, if acted on, would make them both outcasts in a wild, dangerous, uncharted world, and possibly lead them to their deaths. (Goodreads)
The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead is The Selection meets Reign with just a hint of The Hunger Games. The first book in a new series, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, a high-born member of society whose family is struggling and about to contract her into an undesired marriage. She decides to leave it all behind for her chance at a life where she’s the one calling the shots, but in order to do that, she has to assume her maid’s identity and take part in the Glittering Court, a school where they teach girls how to be high-class ladies and wives. Once the ladies have passed their tests, they are taken to the New World and presented to the up-and-coming elite class as potential wives. It should be that simple for Adelaide; instead, she falls in love with Cedric, a member of the family in charge of the Glittering Court, and everything goes awry.
Mead takes us from Adelaide’s high-class life to the Glittering Court mansion to the New World and the frontier. It’s a really interesting journey for Adelaide, who goes from being pampered and having every need taken care of on a whim to the Court and wraps up with fighting for her survival in unchartered territory. She goes through a lot during this book and definitely grows as a character by the end.
To be quite honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of Adelaide at the beginning of the book. She was spoiled and self-righteous and definitely had some ego obstructing her view of the future. That being said, I can’t blame her for wanting to make her own decisions. Adelaide showed a hint of bravery by choosing her own path and that bravery grows throughout the book as she’s thrust into difficult, life-threatening situations. By the end of the book, she’d grown on me and I was rooting for everything to work out with her and Cedric.
The best part of this book is definitely the friendship between Adelaide, Tasmin, and Mira. Once Adelaide enters the Glittering Court, she’s assigned Tasmin and Mira as roommates. Each girl is so different and technically they are competing for rank in the Glittering Court, so they could view each other as threats. Instead, while some of the girls gang up against each other, these three become a team and band together to make it through the crazy adventures they find themselves in. I really enjoyed the hints we get about Tasmin and Mira’s backstories and I’m excited that the rest of the series is shaping up to tell their adventures.
Richelle Mead presents extravagant world building. The Glittering Court seems to find inspiration in many things, including old-fashioned elite society, the European arrival in America, and the Manifest Destiny/Gold Rush period. There are executions over religious disagreements, battles with the natives of the New World, and racial discrimination. There is a lot going on in this book, with three very different settings all playing huge roles as the novel progresses, and it can be a little overwhelming at times. There was enough in the world that intrigued me and kept me going, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
While so much of this world is revealed throughout the course of the novel, Mead leaves us with even more questions waiting to be answered. I’m especially interested to see what happens with Cedric, Mira, and the forbidden religion that has a hold on both of them. While this is definitely set in a made-up world, there are a lot of parallels to real-world events and it will be interesting to see where Mead goes with that.
Set in a captivating new world, The Glittering Court features a high-stakes competition that leads to way more than Adelaide expects. The Glittering Court has a little bit of everything: luxury, adventure, mystery, friendship, romance, and a whole lot of fluctuating circumstances. I’m looking forward to seeing where Richelle Mead goes in book two!