Rating: Significant Shortcomings
Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Richelle Mead
The young Countess of Rothford does not want to marry her distant cousin. So when handsome Cedric Thorn arrives on her doorstep pitching a glamorous life in the Glittering Court to her lady’s maid, the countess takes her maid’s place as Adelaide Bailey. Adelaide travels to a country cottage with the other recruited girls to learn to become a lady. Adelaide does her best to fit in by pretending she doesn’t know any of the genteel skills that the girls are supposed to learn. But as she becomes better acquainted with her roommates, mysterious Mira and fiery Tamsin, and more attracted to Cedric, she finds her secrets harder to keep. After traveling to Adoria and becoming hopelessly entangled with Cedric, despite the adamant attentions of Adoria’s most eligible bachelor, Adelaide is cast out of the Glittering Court and she and Cedric have to find their own way in the wilds of a budding colony. When it is discovered that Cedric is part of a heretical religious group, Adelaide helps him barely escape death by hanging through cunning, determination, and lots of help.
Richelle Mead’s first novel in this trilogy brings to the literary spotlight some excellent topics: religious freedom, gender, and sexuality. Her characters are intriguing with Adelaide at the forefront, Cedric as a religious heretic, Mira as a closet feminist, and Tamsin as an ambitious go-getter. However, Adelaide never quite develops satisfactorily as a character. She leaves one arranged marriage for the hopes of another in Adoria; she is so good at everything she does; she instantly accepts Cedric’s religious standing without really thinking it through. The setting itself left much to be desired as a pre-Revolutionary War England and Colonial America with made up names plastered across the historical names. Although the historical context should make the setting more interesting, Mead never adds more of her own fantasy elements beyond the made up names to offer another layer to the historical basis. Overall, this is a story that begins with a promising setting and cast, but ends with too much luck and not enough development.
*Contains mild language and severe sexual content.