The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead. Razorbill, 2016. Ebook. 400 pages.
I'll just jump right into this and say that The Glittering Court was disappointing, to say the least.
I picked up this book without knowing much about it. The first ~30% or so of this book was pretty solid. It wasn't anything groundbreaking, but I was enjoying myself for the most part and was being entertained, despite occasional awkward happenings. It was around this point that I noticed this book had fairly average-to-negative reviews, which completely surprised me. I knew it wasn't great, but it wasn't that bad, was it? Well, I spoke too soon, because eventually it all started to make sense.
As I continued on, I found myself becoming increasingly bored and lacking interest in the story of our main character. I kept waiting for the climactic moment to hit and for the book to start wrapping up, but when I looked at my progress on my Kindle (I checked out an ebook from one of my library's Overdrive accounts), I found that I was only about 40% through. Uh, that's not a good sign. So, here are some of the problems I had.
First, the characters. I was much more interested in some of the side characters, such as Tamsin and Mira, who were Adelaide's roommates. They seemed to have so much more depth and development than Adelaide, our main character, ever had. Adelaide is... uninteresting. She is a high-born woman posing as a woman of lesser status, and let's be honest: she's not very good at it. Her character seems to run very hot and cold and I couldn't find myself caring much about her. Since reading the book, I have discovered that The Glittering Court is going to be part of a series of companion novels, with each one focusing on a different character, so maybe the ones focusing on Tamsin or Mira would be better. Or maybe not, who knows. Cedric, the love interest of Adelaide, was also quite disappointing, and I can't find much that was interesting about him. He was rather dry, and his big 'secret' that he kept from Adelaide turned out to be quite a letdown.
Another problem I had was with the plot itself. The story starts off following Adelaide, a high-born woman who disguises herself as a lower class woman in order to have some independence and attend a school in Adoria, which is the 'New World' in our story. This school is a form of finishing school in which young woman of lesser classes are trained taught etiquette and other skills with the ultimate goal of selling them off to wealthy men in this new world, ensuring a wealthy and enchanting life for the woman. As annoying as this is, I can't be annoyed with the author just yet, because plenty of books have rather horrid institutions like this. But then comes the fact that Adelaide chose to leave her home in order to escape an arranged marriage... and then chose to go to an institution that trains them be good wives for - yep, you guessed - arranged marriages... what? This was all a little weird to me, but hey, I like to give books the benefit of the doubt, and I was entertained so why not keep going?
The weirdest part occurred when this book suddenly turned into a gold rush-esque story and Adelaide moved into a wild west scenario. I was completely confused throughout this entire portion. The whole time I was trying to figure out what was going on and how this book completely 180'd so drastically. Needless to say, this entire plot just felt jilted and confusing to follow.
Then, the romance. The romantic interest in The Glittering Court is entirely predictable, and although it is a gentle and generally cozy little romantic interest, it lacked any real passion. The two characters involved seemed to just one day decide they were completely mad for each without us ever really getting to see or understand how or why that happened. There were of course various flirtations between the two, but it went from awkward, uncertain flirtations to insta-love in a short matter of time; there was very little development that I could discern.
The ending was also completely out of the blue for me, and frankly, it just didn't make sense. I think this is partly because this is a companion series, so we don't have all aspects of the story as one, but since the books are not released simultaneously, it makes it hard to understand everything.
And a quick, final note: The Glittering Court is hardly a fantasy book. I kept waiting (quite patiently, I might add) for some fantastical elements, but alas, they never appeared. I think the fantasy portion derives from the fact that these are made-up lands with made-up names and institutions, but that's pretty much the extent of it. There is a made-up religion that I guess could potentially play the fantasy role, but it's fairly minimal and doesn't really do it. So if you're looking for some fantasy with magic or other fantastical elements, you might want to find something else.
Because of all the reasons listed above, I have to give The Glittering Court two stars, which I honestly feel really bad about. I just could not understand or get into this book very well. But, you win some and lose some, right?