Narrator: Kristen Sieh
Series: The Glittering Court #1
Published by Penguin on April 5, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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 story is a fantasy historical, in that it takes place in a fantasy version of England, eventually moving to a fantasy version of the US, all set in a fantasy 19th century, The problem is that I just didn’t really buy Adelaide’s desperation. At great risk to pretty much everyone around her, she pretends to be someone else and escapes the marriage mart only to be thrown into…another form (an arguable worse form) of a marriage mart. The thing is, there wasn’t a lot of examination of why this was problematic or any examination of the irony of ending up in the same situation that she just ran away from. The pacing was very erratic. Some parts dragged on forever, while the bits that I liked, seemed to be underdeveloped and left me wanting more. The plot got way off course once they hit the new world and there was so much going on that the original story seemed to diffuse into too many other plots. It seemed as if we were being introduced to characters who we will meet in the next books, but without context, they were just thrown around like confetti and made everything very jumbled. I did like the other girls that Adelaide was paired with and I hope to be reading more about them in the other books. It wasn’t that Adelaide was unlikable, it was that she was lacking any real self-awareness, at all. She got a little “tougher” I guess, but there was no real character growth. I was really expecting to love this book, but I’ll be honest – it was kind of a mess.
Although the story was less than satisfying, the narration was good. Kristen Sieh does an excellent job of voicing all of the characters and bringing them to life. Probably the reason I didn’t stop listening was because her narration was so good. While this book didn’t work for me, I know that each book in this series tells the story of a different girl in the Glittering Court, so I am interested in reading more in this world.