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…
There seems to be a lot of debate about if this book is a good read or not. For me, I enjoyed the book, however, I’ll admit, I can completely see why so many people were disappointed in it. One of the most obvious reasons (to me) is the fact it is expressly labeled as a young adult fantasy novel. Let me tell you something, there is nothing fantasy-related in this entire book. Not one element that would earn it that genre and yet, even on the back it claims to be just that: fantasy. I’m not one to get overly upset over this as fantasy can be a very hit and miss genre for me, regardless of how much I love it. But there are people out there that love their fantasy and expressly go out of their way to read those books and I can see how they would be highly disappointed about being deceived into reading a book that is 100% NOT FANTASY.
Another thing that seems to have bothered a lot of people is how glaringly obvious that Osfrid and Adoria represent England and colonial/post-revolution United States. I actually didn’t have a problem with the author using something as commonly known as their past to create her world. Is it obvious? Yes. Did it bother me? No.
Now, for the positives. I actually liked this book. Even though “Adelaide” was a bit too perfect for my taste, I enjoyed her tale and I found it to be an interesting journey to a (familiar) new world. I’ll admit, I wish at least a little more effort would have been put towards the training the girls have to undergo. They literally skip from day one to eight months in. We aren’t even given a glimpse into Adelaide’s assessment of the schooling before we jump right to the final exams. I think it would have been interesting if maybe the author could have had her write journal entries about some of her mistakes… like bleaching the vegetables as well as the troubles she had trying to reign in her knowledge and ability of the finer aspects of the curriculum. By doing so, it would have really strengthened this aspect of the book as well as allowed the author a stronger introduction to the attraction between Adelaide and a certain someone.
I got the sense this might be the next series for the author and I can’t help but hope it isn’t. Even though I’m curious to discover more about what happened to Tamsin and Mira, I really didn’t feel this was a strong enough book to keep going with the story lines. As a one shot story, this is a decent read, but if you are expecting it to stand up to the standard of Vampire Academy or Bloodlines, this isn’t the right book for you. However, if you enjoy a Victorian-inspired culture and the prospect of early U.S., I think you’ll enjoy this story and will be able to appreciate both the similarities and differences of the true cultures to that of these fictional ones.