I was really excited to read this book because I loved Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. This book was promoted to be like The Selection (which I love) meets Reign (which I’m dying to watch).
I absolutely loved the first half of the book. From the time “Adelaide” leaves Osfrid and joins TGC, I was hooked. I really enjoyed how Osfrid was like Victorian England- the dresses, the societal rules, etc. I loved how sassy and independent Adelaide is and how she takes her life by the reigns. Even at TGC where she is supposed to be demure and a perfect lady, she doesn’t let them break her spirit. She has to learn humility and what it is like to live as “common blood.” She also has to learn that everyone has secrets.
Things really started to go down hill for me in the second half of the book when, without revealing too many spoilers, Adelaide heads to the frontier. It felt like I was reading a completely different book. I almost feel like the author should have ended the first book here and put the whole frontier thing in the second book. It was just a bizarre ending that I didn’t see coming.
I also didn’t really like how quickly things move for Adelaide and her beau. She has all these potential suitors, but once things start happening with her guy, she goes from cold to hot hot HOT in love super fast. It was all just really convenient. It left me a bit bored. You can pretty much guess from the beginning who she is going to end up with, so since there are no plot twists with it, it was all just bland.
The supporting characters were fun, especially Mira and Tamsin. I wish they played a larger part in the book. With the way things ended, I have a feeling we will be seeing them again in the series. The mystery that surrounds Mira really intrigued me and I really hope we find out more about her background. I also hope that the author gives more information about the different religions featured in the book. It is very interesting and I would like to know more.
One thing that really bothered me from the beginning was the mystery surrounding “Adelaide’s” real name. Why keep it such a secret? When I FINALLY found out what it was (well, I figured it out before it was revealed since an animal is named for a nickname of her name… womp) it was a let down. It is such an ordinary name (especially for this time era) that I just had a big question mark on why it was such a big deal to keep it secret.
I think the biggest discussion point in the book is the misogyny. The Glittering Court girls are bought and sold off to the highest bidder. Their worth is determined on their beauty, but also on how well they can handle a household and be a society woman. The girls that are outspoken (like Adelaide) are looked down upon for having an opinion. Also, girls like Mira who are of a different ethnicity are looked at like pieces of meat and sexualized because of her exotic looks, but is not considered good wife material because of her ethnicity. While Adelaide, in the end, finds true love and yadda yadda despite her mouthiness, it is still stressed that she not violate her virtue until her wedding night. It left a bad taste in my mouth that even as much as Adelaide rebelled against being judged like cattle (as Mira put it), she still let the thought of being judged about giving up her virtue weigh her down.
Overall, it was a very strange book. Like I said before, I really enjoyed the first two hundred pages or so and wish that would have been the first book. Will I read the rest of the series? Sure, probably. I’m interested to see what happens to Adelaide, Tamsin, and Mira, especially. I don’t think this series is nearly as good as The Vampire Academy series, but it is something completely different and new so it is like comparing apples to oranges. I would say definitely give the book a shot if you are a fan of the author or are a fan of books set in this time period.