The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Glittering CourtInformation

Goodreads: The Glittering Court
Series: The Glittering Court #1
Source: Library
Published: April 5, 2016

Official Summary

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…


After seeing a number of readers gush about their love for Richelle Mead, I decided to give The Glittering Court a chance–even in spite of the generally mediocre reviews the book has received from many other bloggers and the fact that book summary made me doubt from the start that this would be quite the novel for me. After powering through it and pondering several times whether I should simply DNF it, I have to say my initial skepticism was warranted. With simplistic prose, an irritating protagonist, and a plot that makes little sense, The Glittering Court will struggle to read many readers’ attention.

The book is told in first person past tense from the POV of protagonist Elizabeth/Adelaide. The problem is that Mead doesn’t go to a lot of trouble to make it a believable first person voice. Adelaide comments on all sorts of details and notices all sorts of things that would be better told from an omniscient third person POV. Add to this the fact that Adelaide does a lot of telling rather than showing (usually about how talented she is at…well, everything), and the writing style leaves something to be desired.

I did find Adelaide annoying even beyond her tendency to self-praise, though I acknowledge that Mead is probably intentionally characterizing her as full of herself–to some degree. Adelaide grew up in a very privileged position as a countess in the Old World, so Mead does put some effort into realistically making her a pesron who isn’t really aware of her privilege until it’s taken from her, and then naturally reacts badly to the fact the world suddenly isn’t revolving around her.  So I get it.  Making Adelaide too “likeable” may have makde her unbelieable.  However, I do think that Mead actually does expect readers to like her, and to believe that’ she’s all the things she keeps saying she is: witty, charming, endearing, beautiful, and talented at 100% of social arts. And I didn’t actually find her witty or charming at all, just bland and obsessed with herself, with the occasional foray into selflessness for her lover (not necessarily for anyone else).

The other characters were equally bland to me, so although the next two books are apparently supposed to be companion novels that follow Adelaide’s two BFFs, I’m not really interested in them. It didn’t help that the best way Mead could think of to build suspense for these follow-ups was to have one of the characters tell the secrets she had been hiding to Adelaide–but still keep that information hidden from the reader: “‘Tamsin…You can tell me anything. Go ahead and ask whatever you need to.’ So she did.”  Seriously, that’s the big reveal readers get of Tamsin’s secrets, “So she [told me].”  The other girl flat out refuses to say anything at all, so we all have to tune into book 3.

The rest of the is similarly bizarre.  I don’t have a problem with a large chunk of the book being devoted to the aimlessness of social gatherings and courting, because that’s what this book is selling: pretty girls and pretty gowns in the vein of The Selection.  That’s  what people are reading for.  However, the book in general is episodic.  Though this is probably going to be an obscure reference, it reminds me a lot of Vandover and the Brute by Frank Norris, in that a lot of stuff happens, but it’s often so unrelated and so irrelevant to any overarching plot that it’s actually hard to remember that half of it happened at all.  Then things go wild at the end. The pacing gets out of control and a bunch of random characters converge. It’s certainly exciting, but I’m not sure about well-executed.

I feel kind of terrible, but I can’t think of anything I really enjoyed about this book. There were parts I disliked deeply and parts I was simply indifferent to, but nothing stands out as a really strong positive trait. This first foray into the books of Richelle Mead is likely to be my last.

2 stars Briana

29 thoughts on “The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

  1. Bailey says:

    Completely agree which is a shame since so many people gush about Richelle Mead. However, The Glittering Court was my first experience with her writing as well. I doubt I’ll ever knowingly pick up one of her books again.


    • Briana says:

      Yeah. I could maybe deal with some of the flaws, but I was pretty surprised that the prose seemed very unsophisticated for someone who’s written so many books. That was a huge red flag for me that I don’t think I would be fan of another book by her even on a completely different topic.


  2. Anushka H. says:

    Completely agree. This book was really, really bad. I remember struggling to find one good thing in the book when I penned down my review. To me, the plot had a lot of loopholes and the characters were so annoying. And even I’m definitely not picking up the next two books.


    • Briana says:

      Right? I was trying to think of something that went well and couldn’t! And then I started wondering why I gave it two stars instead of one if I couldn’t think of even one good thing. The plot was definitely ridiculous.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. alilovesbooks says:

    I received an extended sample of this from NetGalley and kind of enjoyed it but I only got as far as them sailing off to meet their husbands. I have been wanting to read the rest but I may now reconsider.


  4. Fatima @ NoteablePad says:

    I’m definitely giving this book a miss. Doesn’t sound interesting at all.
    “Go ahead and ask whatever you need to.’ So she did.” Is that supposed to build up suspense? Hiding info from the reader?


  5. Joey @ thoughts and afterthoughts says:

    Oh boy. “in spite of the generally mediocre reviews” — LOL This is precisely my exact reason FOR picking up certain books because I’m all “yeah, I’ll show these negative nancies what’s up. this book is going to be stelllllarrr” and it end sup being super shit.:/ Damn, damn, damn.


  6. Jordon @ Simply Adrift says:

    Argghhh, I hated this book too! It was so unlike a Richelle Mead book! It was confusing and disappointing.

    I had a problem with the fact that Adelaide was running away from her home from an arranged marriage, just to join a company that would be selling her off to another man for MONEY. How can you be okay with that? argh!

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift


    • Briana says:

      Yeah, her reasoning seemed to be that, technically under the contract, she’d have a choice of men who made bids on her. But that’s kind of assuming you’ll be getting multiple offers and that you’ll like the men bidding. (But who would like the kind of man who would literally buy a wife?)


  7. rantandraveaboutbooks says:

    After falling asleep while reading the first Mortal Instruments book and never again opening it, I decided not to read any more of her books. I like the cover but that’s about all. The synopsis sounds boring, and I took a peek at the writing on Amazon. You’re so right. For someone who’s written as many books as Mead, her prose is pretty basic. And there’s nothing worse than a character who tells you how amazing they are. Even in real life I demand proof of such proclamations, and I hold authors to a much higher standard. Mead’s books are long, too, so it’s not like she doesn’t have time to show you the MCs alleged awesomeness. I can’t believe she leaves you hanging with secrets you won’t learn until the companion novels come out. I will definitely pass on this one. Thanks for the warning.


    • Briana says:

      Yes, I could have dealt a little better with all the “I’m great at X” statements if she’d actually done anything. But since the premise of the book is her apparently trying to be intentionally bad at things she’s actually good at, so as not to draw attention to herself, well… Also, she kept saying she was witty but never said anything I found that clever. -.-

      The ending was definitely cheap. I have no other word for it. If it’s a first person POV book and that character learns something, so should the reader. That’s the whole point of first person POV! To know what the protagonist does and not know what they don’t. But this little trick basically did the opposite of its intention because I’m so annoyed I want nothing to do with the other books.


  8. Lunch-Time Librarian says:

    This book seems to be a major dud if the reviews from the community are anything to go by. I don’t think I’ve read a single positive review which is kind of sad for the author. But at the same time, it goes to show that having a popular book before doesn’t mean you can just write whatever and expect people to like it. And my biggest pet peeve in books is telling vs showing, it drives me crazy and it’s boring. Glad I skipped this one!


    • Briana says:

      I’d only seen mediocre reviews, too, and I should have listened! But she seems to be such a popular author that I thought I’d give it a try. I won’t be reading anything by her again. The book really reads like a debut to me, and I’m concerned that her writing looks like this after the publication of so many books. Either they were banking on her popularity and kind of just threw this together without enough revisions, or she really can’t write that well.


      • Lunch-Time Librarian says:

        That’s what it seems like, hoping that as a popular author she would just automatically have great books all the time. Hopefully for her next book she takes the reviews to heart and works on creating something a little more representative of what she’s done in the past

        Liked by 1 person

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