Gorgeous Mess | The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: 4/5/16
Pages: 400
Source: purchased
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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 Countess of Rothford is forced into an unwanted marriage to rescue her from her family’s dwindling funds. Instead, after hearing a sales pitch for the Glittering Court, a finishing school for low-class ladies who get to play Bachelor in the New World, that sounds like the better option to her marriage. The New World is a fantastic idea to explore freedom and a life she has always dreamed of. 

The Glittering Court

  • I was surprised The Glittering Court didn’t go too much into her time at school. Essentially, I feel a bit deceived at what this book was about. The synopsis and title both emphasize the Glittering Court. Therefore, I was expecting the story to be about her time and only that time at the school, rather it goes far beyond that.
  • The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead is certainly glamorous more than anything else.
  • All I could keep thinking about was how the Court seemed to be such a scam, and maybe not to the low-class ladies it was meant for but especially for Elizabeth, Countess of Rothford. She was getting the short end of the straw in this deal. She wanted freedom, an escape from an unwanted marriage to be thrown right back into another marriage that she may not want. She falls for a sales pitch and the freedom of the New World is what sold her. I understand it but her whole decision seemed too impulsive, considering if you think about it too long, you can come up with a list of things of how a countess journeying to the New World is dangerous. Her sheltered life did not prepare her for this and it makes her undeniably vulnerable.
  • For the amount of times, Elizabeth comments on the New World being new, I would be as rich as a noble by now.
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Too Much But Not Enough

  • The story was written magnificently well. Coming from Richelle Mead, this is no surprise. Her style is gorgeous. I was immediately swept into this historical realm.
  • There was just not enough answers to all the questions. All of the friendships in The Glittering Court were based on “I’ll keep my secrets and you’ll keep yours” which doesn’t let us see the other characters in anything but a superficial light. I got to know the narrator quite well but I knew little about the people around Elizabeth who seemed to have so many secrets. When those secrets were finally revealed, there seemed to be no fanfare. I knew so little about the characters to begin with that these secrets didn’t hold much power in the end. 
  • This novel would be perfect for television. The book plays as if it was a whole season of the show. Mead just keeps going on and on, until The Glittering Court started feeling like a long filler episode, an episode that may highlight character development but does little to move the story along. It was difficult finding the whole point to the novel. It was all over the place with too many questions hanging unanswered and a plot that never seemed to end.
  • It is difficult to explain what the book is about because so much happens that there is no one thing pointing as the main story. To be frank, The Glittering Court is just about: a broke countess escapes an unwanted marriage by journeying to the New World to play Bachelor only to fall in love with someone unexpected.
  • So much is going on that there was never a dull moment. The Glittering Court was definitely entertaining, always bringing the unexpected.
  • My main reason for reading was, of course, because of Richelle Mead. I loved the Vampire Academy series and enjoyed her standalone, Soundless. I was expecting her gorgeous prose and received it well in The Glittering Court. However, even if it wasn’t written by the amazing Mead, the first sentence would have forced me right into the story anyway: 
  • The narrative, especially that first sentence sucked me right into this historical society. The dialogue was also the perfect amounts of sass and humor.
  • It did, however, lack a map. I would have loved to see a map in building Richelle Mead’s world in my mind. The map would have added to the beauty of the book. It does play like historical Europe meets the American Frontier, which is easy enough to understand without a map but it would have been nice to see.

The Countess

  • Isn’t it terrible that I didn’t know Elizabeth’s name until they mention it at the 75% point? I don’t recall them ever using her real name before that time. She uses her maid’s name, Ada, to fit in more easily and I just kept calling her Ada.
  • The whole plan is super flawed which leads to the plot being a bit ridiculous. However, the idea of the story is fresh and unique.
  • I liked the strength Elizabeth had. Despite her messy plan, I found her to be realistic, witty, and above all strong. I was waiting for her to lay the complaints on thick—of all the terrible things she must endure in the New World—and was surprised when she didn’t complain too much. Her character had developed so far from the impulsive countess we knew from page one. 


The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead is filled with too much, leaving the book with little point to even carry on in the series. Mead does bring her gorgeous writing which definitely makes this mess of a novel worth reading. 

The Glittering Court (4/5/16): 3 stars
Midnight Jewel (6/27/17): TBA

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  1. I've heard a mix of opinions on this one. I still need to read it myself. I was fearful for a time because much of the opinion left it to be less than stellar, which was what I felt like Mead was known for. Glad to see you liked it for the most part though! Nice review!