Monday, April 25, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Title: The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court #1) 
Author: Richelle Mead
Narrator: Kristen Sieh
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
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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…

Wow. Okay, full disclosure - I almost DNF'd this book several times and only decided to finish it so my review would be fully informed. Basically I wanted to make sure I wasn't complaining about things that were later worked out. There are so many things wrong with this book I don't even know where to begin, but I'll try to make a coherent review out of this.

The Glittering Court is a book that is trying to be way too many things all at once. Someone (the author? the publisher?) saw fit to market this book as fantasy for some reason I can't quite figure out. The best way I can describe this book is historical fiction with lots of name swaps. The setting varies from 19th century England Osfrid to the American Frontier Adoria, where they are literally mining for gold. This book has it all! English(ish) nobility, pirates, Native Americans Icori "savages," and Pagans Alanzan heretics.

To be honest, The Glittering Court seems like (at least) two books crammed into one, although neither quite works for me. The first half is about Elizabeth's Adelaide's desperate flight from an arranged marriage... into another arranged marriage where she will actually be sold to the highest bidder. Um... what? So anyway, Adelaide runs away to The Glittering Court where she will (pretend to) learn to be a lady in order to gain passage to the New World for... reasons. Fast forward eight months and she's on her way! Then the whole story spirals into a Wild Wild West story complete with cowboys and Indians. But, wait! There's more! Every time this book seems like it might be over, it keeps going. Seriously, this book has more endings than The Lord of the Rings.

The Glittering Court made no sense at all and left me with more questions than answers. Here are a few: 

  • HOW did no one find Elizabeth/Adelaide?? She was an extremely well-known, influential member of high society in a time period when pictures existed. And NO ONE thought to look in a house full of girls her age that her maid had a connection to? 
  • Better yet, how was this not in every newspaper? How did no one at The Glittering Court know about this? Much suspension of disbelief is needed. 
  • Why in the hell would Adelaide run away from an arranged marriage into an arrangement where she would basically be sold to the man with the most money? What exactly was Richelle Mead's thought process when she came up with this plot? 
  • How exactly did this "romance" with Cedric even happen? Maybe this would have been better explained had eight months of their story not been jumped over, but I did not buy it at all. They go from acquaintances to in love with next to no explanation. 
  • What was the point of the Alanzan religion? It seemed like it was thrown together last minute for added drama. 
  • Is what Tamsin has at stake really that big of a secret? Are there people who didn't figure this out immediately? 

This brings me to the actual ending of The Glittering Court, also known as the most glaring example of deus ex machina I have ever seen in my reading life. Just... wow. Dear authors everywhere, bringing in a random character who has never appeared in the story to save the day is extremely lazy writing and your readers are not fooled. 

I haven't even gotten into the blatant sexism and racism in this book, or the fact that the secondary characters are infinitely more interesting than Adelaide is. I could honestly go on and on with the problems I found with The Glittering Court, but I'll leave it at that. I wanted to enjoy this book so much. Unfortunately, my first Richelle Mead book is definitely going to be my last.