The Glittering Court
by Richelle Mead
Razorbill, 2016. 400 pages. Young Adult
Regency romance meets wild frontier life in this mashup of fantasy and historical fiction. Lady Elizabeth Witmore, Countess of Rothford is the eligible daughter of one of Osfrid’s (A.K.A Victorian England) most elite families. Unfortunately, the family is now almost penniless meaning that Lady Elizabeth must be wedded off to a wealthy husband. When Elizabeth’s grandmother arranges a marriage to her humorless distant cousin whose mother is meddlesome and controlling, Elizabeth longs for a way out.
Before the marriage is to take place, Elizabeth is forced to let go of all her maids. Becoming desperate, Elizabeth is intrigued when handsome Cedric Thorn arrives at her home to recruit her maid, Adalaide, for the Glittering Court. The Glittering Court enrolls beautiful young women to be trained as ladies. They are then taken across the Sunset Sea to the newly discovered lands of Adoria and auctioned off as brides to the highest bidders. Elizabeth has always longed for adventure, so when she discovers that Ada has signed a contract but does not want to go to Adoria, Elizabeth offers to take her place.
Now going by her maid’s name, Ada, it’s not long before Cedric discovers her subterfuge. Cedric agrees to keep her secret but has a dangerous one of his own. Soon, Ada is on her way to the frontier lands of Adoria where she must eventually choose to marry for money or love.
Though fantasy is listed as one of the genres, the only thing that really makes this fantasy is that the places are made up. I would say this book will appeal more to fans of historical fiction and fans of strong female characters. That being said, I think this book could have benefited from better developed, more likeable characters. I hesitate to be too critical because, overall, I did like the book. It just needed to be developed a bit more.