An open letter to Richelle Mead
You don´t know who I am, to you I´m just one of the many nameless, faceless readers of your book. We will never meet or speak to each other. You will probably not read this letter but I hope the message it contains will reach you somehow anyway.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to receive a digital arc of your new book A Glittering Court. I was excited! I´d read one of your previous books (Gameboard of the Gods) and enjoyed it. Unfortunately I didn´t get very far into reading this before I had to put the book down. I tried going back to it but was unable to. Let me try to explain why.
The basic premise of your book (and correct me if I´m wrong) a young countess must be married off to a rich man with good standing. Her parents are dead and her families wealth is dwindling. She is set up with her bore of a distant cousin and is rightly appalled. So far so good. Though she is very much against being forced to marry a man she does not like she goes about her day, accepting her fate. I would have liked a bit more spark to her but that´s a small detail.
A man arrives at her home to recruit one of her maids to The Glittering Court. The maid has the good sense to not want to go but the countess sees her chance at escape and seizes it. The Glittering court, we learn, is a school of sorts where poor women of no standing are taught how to be ladies and become appealing to men. After school they are shipped off to Adoria wheren they for 3 months are put on display so to speak. They attend parties and hang out with the men in hopes of being chosen. When a many wants to marry her he pays a fee to the owners of the school and the woman becomes his wife. She can turn down the offer but it´s clear that that would be an insult. One of the many “charming” quotes is ´the colonial men go crazy when we bring new girls´.
Lets just look at that for a minute. The main character wants to flee from an arranged marriage only to enter into a deal where she is set up for another marriage. That´s some logic right there.
So we´ve already established a borish view on women. They are literally being pimped up and sold to the highest bidder.
But what really got my blood boiling was your description of Adoria and its population. Here is a direct quote: ´When settlers from Osfrid and other countries landed in Adoria, there´d been terrible bloodshed between them and the Icori clans living there. Many of the Icori had been driven away, but we still heard stories of other tragedies: diseases, storms and wild animals.´
The Icori are the indigenous peoples who lived on the land. They were there first. The main characters people, the Osfrid, “discovered” the land, called it “the new world” and decided to move in with no regard for the Icori. Does any of this ring a bell to you? It should. If not I recommend you look into the history of the American Indians, and Canadian Indians for that matter, hell, the history of colonialism! While your at it, follow Debbie Reese on twitter (@debreese) and read her site http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.se/.
Here´s another tip, never ever (ever) call an indigenous people “savages”. It is used several times in the book and every time I felt myself flinch. Like here for example: ´…our colonists aren´t looking for savage Icori wives in kilts and tartans. Well, most of our colonists aren´t looking for savage wives. I suppose there´s always someone who finds that appealing.´
To refer to “the new worlds” land as unkept, wild and uncivilized is incredibly insulting as it is an attempt to make the Osfridians more “civilized”. The blatant racism that is directed towards one of the characters, Mira, and her “funny accent” is appalling. The character of Adelaide takes it upon herself to help Mira speak more like a proper Osfridian. Were the two of them supposed to be BFF´s or something? Because all I could see was Adelaide basking in her unabashed privilege.
So those were my thoughts. I didn´t finish the book, had I continued I´m not sure I would have been able to stop myself from flinging the iPad I was reading on through the window in a fit of rage.
Like I said before, I hope some of this reaches you. Or at least reaches someone at your publishing house for you are both responsible for this mess. You should have known better than to write this and they should have known better and put a stop to it. Better luck next time!