A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Midnight Jewel is best-selling author Richelle Mead's second installment in her Glittering Court fantasy trilogy set in an alternate universe that resembles colonial America. But instead of a typical sequel, the story chronicles the same timeline of the first book from a different perspective. Whereas the first book was a romantic adventure following Adelaide, this one follows Mira, Adelaide's best friend. The story tackles mature themes such as "bride for hire" marriage, sexism, religious freedom, and colonialism but also features a steamy romance, adventure, and mystery. Unlike the "forbidden romance" of Adelaide's book, Mira's love story follows a different friends-with-benefits to true-love trajectory. As in nearly all of Mead's books, there are candid but not graphic descriptions of consenting sexual relationship between young adults. There's also violence that includes vigilant justice, references to religion-based murders, an assassination attempt, explosions, and other violent encounters.
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What's the story?
MIDNIGHT JEWEL is the second book in Richelle Mead's The Glittering Court alternate-universe -- a three-part tale that revisits the same timeline from a different perspective in each book. While The Glittering Court explores the story of Adelaide's time in the titular bride-for-hire service, Midnight Jewel follows Mira, the only Sirminican (darker-skinned ethnic minority) of the court, and why she joins the group of beautiful young women who agree to be married off across the sea in Adoria (the New World that's reminiscent of colonial America). Mira needs money to save her older brother, Lonzo, from being a bonded laborer, and if it means marrying an older and open-minded Adorian, so be it. But Mira's feelings change when she meets Grant, a secret agent working to uncover treason and injustice among the ruling class in the New World. Mira agrees to spy on the influential men she meets during Glittering Court events and falls for the "infuriatingly attractive" and no-strings-attached Grant in the process.
Is it any good?
Mead's companion novel retells the story of Book 1 from the perspective of a more fearless protagonist whose love story is even more intense than the first book's romance. Ideal for romance fans who like some adventure and intrigue (all Mead's specialties), Midnight Jewel manages to re-create the events of Glittering Court without being repetitive. Instead, Mead infuses the story with more clarity that will make readers think, "Ohhhh, that's what was happening" when they revisit some pivotal moments from the first book. And then there are completely new parts about the mysterious Mira, her relationship with Grant, and her true aim in Adoria -- not for a rich husband but to free a beloved brother.
About that romance -- it's not the slow-burn, forbidden love that Adelaide and Cedric experience. It's the one about the gorgeous man with no interest in attachment who finally finds a woman worthy of commitment. It's not a favorite romantic storyline, but it's difficult not to cheer for the beautiful and fierce Mira or the complicated and protective Grant. They think they can keep things simple, but nothing worth fighting for is ever simple, they realize. There's also an interesting subplot where Mira gets to play an avenging angel, a Robin Hood-esque vigilante who will be familiar to those who remember the first book. But it's really Mira's devotion to her loved ones -- Grant, Adelaide, her brother Lonzo -- that make her such a likable "underdog" (because even breathtakingly beautiful, courageous, and clever young women are still underdogs when they're the wrong class and the wrong skin color).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Midnight Jewel. Is violence ever warranted? What about vigilante justice?
Discuss how sex and romance is depicted in the book. How does Mira and Grant's love story compare to the relationships in the previous book? Why do you think Mead's romances are so popular?
What are the similarities between Adoria and America? How do the various sects and peoples in the book compare to the native and colonial population of America? If the Osfridians are like the English and the Balanquans like Native Americans, what real-world culture is similar to the fictional Sirminicans, Icori, or Belsians?
Who are the role models in the book? What character strengths do they exhibit?
- Author: Richelle Mead
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Publication date: June 27, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 416
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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