Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Review: The Emerald Sea (The Glittering Court #3)

The final installment in Richelle Mead's sweeping, enthralling Glittering Court series answers the trilogy's biggest question: what is the secret that drives Tamsin to win at all costs?

The Emerald Sea, by Richelle Mead, is the third and final installment in The Glittering Court series. Tasmin Wright has one goal in mind. She must become the Glittering Court's diamond: the girl with the highest test scores, the most wardrobe, and the greatest opportunities to match with an elite suitor in the New World. From a working-class background, Tasmin completely transforms herself into a high-society bride-to-be. She savors every lesson in etiquette, history, and music to become number one in her cohort.

When her friendship with her roommates at the Glittering Court threatens her status as the top-ranked prospect, she does the only thing she knows will keep her on track: she cuts them out of her life. But when her voyage across the sea goes off course, Tamsin must use her unrelenting grit and determination to survive the harsh winter far north of her intended destination in hopes of making it back to the Glittering Court in time to secure a proposal--and a comfortable future for her family.

Experiencing new cultures and beliefs for the first time, Tamsin realizes that her careful studies haven't prepared her for everything, and with new alliances formed with roguish tradesman Jago Robinson and good-natured minister Gideon Stewart, Tamsin's heart begins to be pulled in different directions. But she can't let her brewing attraction get in the way of her ultimate goal: protecting the secret she holds closest to her heart, the one that would unravel everything she's worked for if it's uncovered.

This was a thrilling and spectacular ending to the Glittering Court series. Author Richelle Mead proves that she can write non-paranormal romance novels with a touch of mystery and adventure. In addition, Mead embeds historical fiction (think the colonial period before the American Revolution) to showcase how the New World represented new dangers and a chance to start a new life. My knowledge of American history was useful in understanding colonial life versus the Old World (e.g. England). The longest of the three books in the series at nearly 500 pages (!), The Emerald Sea ties up loose ends and explains there whereabouts of Tasmin's disappearance after Adelaide and Mira landed safely in Cape Triumph. I also loved how the series was divided into the perspectives of the three young prospects and how their lives went through different trials in the New World. Nonetheless, they ended up in the same place, using their new skills and determination to support each other. Most importantly, they defied societal gender norms of the time to create their own destinies, to follow their own hearts. It was a fitting finale that illustrated how the three young women changed with more confidence and opportunities. My favorite of the three books was Midnight Jewel because I loved Mira's backstory (and her courage in being the only nonwhite participant in the Glittering Court). Finally, I look forward to, if any novellas are in the works, how the girls fare after they go their separate ways with new people and in the New World. Despite lacking magic, there is a sense of magic in Mead's story-building that makes it worthwhile to read. Overall, I highly recommend this series.

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