Hello everyone! First of all, I realise that I haven’t posted since my review of The Secret History last week, and many apologies for that. Unfortunately I had a dizzy spell on the tube on Thursday (while on the way to see a play with my boyfriend), and we ended up in St Thomas’ Hospital until 2:30 am. I also have two End of Year Essays in for the 12th, so a lot of my energy is focused on them. However, I promised a review of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead, and that is what I shall give!
If you’re purely interested in my rating, it’s 3 stars – I enjoyed this book, but I had a couple of issues with it. Read on to find out why.
To give some basic background to the book, it is the first in a series of companion books set during the colonisation of the United States (here named Adoria), so presumably around the 1600s. It is a YA novel, and Mead is the author of the popular series The Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. While I have not read these, I am aware that Mead is popular within the genre, and the premise of the book interested me, so I decided to buy it.
- Adelaide Bailey (formerly Countess Elizabeth Whitmore) – the protagonist; a young woman trapped in an unwanted engagement, she flees luxury to try to forge a new life for herself in disguise.
- Tamsin – a former laundress and friend of Adelaide, she is fierce, ambitious, and will the subject of one of the later companion books.
- Mira – a refugee from a warring country, seemingly reflective of Syria. She is intelligent, mysterious, a friend of Adelaide and Tamsin, and will be the subject of another one of the companion books.
- Jasper Thorn – the owner of the Glittering Court; a business man with his eye on the bottom line.
- Cedric Thorn – Jasper’s son; a charming university student and love interest of Adelaide, who also harbours a troubling secret.
- Warren Doyle – the governor’s son in Adoria’s capital interested in pursuing Adelaide.
Countess Elizabeth Whitmore, unwilling to marry her cousin to save the family title, poses as her maid, Adelaide Bailey, to enter the Glittering Court. Part finishing school, and part marriage market, the enterprise teaches lower-class girls how to be glamorous wives for the New World. Secrets and romance blossom for Adelaide, and she must walk a thin line to protect herself and Cedric.
Elements I Liked:
- There are some very interesting theological elements throughout the book, both concerning the main, domineering religion (which is essentially Christianity), and the heretical ‘pagan’ religion (it is deemed to be pagan throughout the book, but by this it means a religion focused around nature – paganism is actually a far broader term). As a theology student, I really enjoyed the way these intertwined.
- There were hidden depths to all the main characters, which will (hopefully) be explored more later in the series. I wanted to read about the characters in more depth, and find out what they were doing when they weren’t in Adelaide’s immediate world.
- I was worried at the start that it would take issues with class too lightly, but this turned out not to be the case. While Adelaide was well-prepared in terms of acting like a high-class lady, she was unable to perform more basic tasks and genuinely struggled with the burden placed upon women within the time period. Up the proles!
- The women within this book are multi-faceted, complex, and in some cases, pretty bad-ass. Anyone hoping for swooning and big dresses may be disappointed, these women have their own agendas.
Elements I Didn’t Like:
- Adelaide herself can feel like a little bit of a letdown at times – I certainly think she’s the least interesting of the three, and there were times when I wondered why I cared about her character. Although in the final third I found her to be more interesting, I felt that Mead did not start off her series with the most intriguing character, although maybe coming to the most boring character later would have been a worse idea!
- So. Many. Anachronisms. I know that this is set in a fictional world, but it is written in a similar fashion to historical fiction, and therefore some historical accuracy would be appreciated. Two glaring examples are the fact that it says that a street in a very poor area of the capital is lit with gas street lighting. Gas street lighting did not begin to emerge until the nineteenth century, and even then, the London slums (which the setting is analogous to) did not receive street lighting until the 1930’s at the earliest. The second is that Tamsin, a poor laundress, writes reams of letters, which would have been a ridiculous notion in the 1600’s. Even if she could afford the materials, the majority of lower-class men, let alone women, could not even read, apart from perhaps a few basic words. While we now commonly perceive writing and reading to go hand-in-hand, they are two very different skills, and only professional scribes or scholars could write more than anything more complex than a short letter. Unless it is explained how she can do this in her book, this very much stands out to me. I am very much a history geek though, so this may not bother some people.
- In general, I quite like the writing, but unfortunately it degenerates a lot when it comes to romantic scenes. Richelle, you don’t need to make everything so bloody melodramatic! YA readers can handle more than ridiculous cliches! On the plus side, some of these made me laugh, so it wasn’t all bad.
I am aware that this book is being marketed as fantasy, which is disappointing some people, and I certainly cannot see any fantasy elements within it. This is far more like (almost) historical fiction, so be aware of that if that’s a driving factor for you. Some elements annoyed me a bit (as you can see above), but I wanted to know more about the other girls, and what they were dealing with, so I will definitely be reading more of this series. I’m particularly looking forward to Mira’s one, my favourite character by far!
So there’s my review! Feel free to comment below and let me know what you thought of the book, or if you feel this is something that interests you. My next review will be of Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace, and will be posted either later this week or next week, depending on my university workload. Until then, happy reading 🙂
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