Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.
When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.
Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.
But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.
This contemporary/historical mash-up is a dystopian novel set in a futurstic world, a story about a modern-day Marie Antionettte (without the guillotine – yet). I had read a book close to this one in concept – Court – about a monarchy thriving in the midst of the modern world. But while Court had a hidden monarchy, the one in Glitter is actually a company that made so much money that it bought off the Versailles Palace and made it their residence. The nobles in this country are the higher ups of the company, and the employees are the populace – and all of this makes sense when you read it. Danica becomes one such ‘noble’ when her father inherits shares in the company, making her a titled person, and the opulence of the world enchants her and her mother so much that she gets into all the politics and frivolities of this modern day court of the Sun King. Until he is blackmailed into marrying her by her mother – that bursts her happy bubble
At the start of the book, she is looking for a way out of the court, back to the modern world. Not out of a sudden interest in modernity, but rather to escape her fate of being betrothed to a sadistic king. Her way out involves paying off a crime lord an exorbitant sum, which gets her involved in peddling a drug to her peers. She does so without their consent, initiating a moral conflict within herself. To help her with the business is one of the minions of the drug lord, Saber, who she feels a magnetic attraction to. Their attraction is fraught with tension, mostly because she isn’t really a good person, and he disapproves of her actions.
Danica is written beautifully complex – she is neither good nor bad. She does selfish things, but also feels remorse for it. She endangers the lives of so many people by putting them on the drug without their knowledge and consent, and that felt wrong on so many levels. She is also been honed as a tool for her mother’s ambition, and her way of punishing herself with her corset and all the symbolism behind it being literally the thing holding her in place was painful. A big thing to understand here is that she was pushed into a corner and she took a terrible way out, which makes for a great story for the reader but not such a great situation for her.
The world Pike has created definitely merits a special mention, because she has melded these two genres – the historical and the futuristic so well enough! You get both the romanticizing and drama of the past as the foundation and the modern elements providing the plot and its progression. And with the characters crafted uniquely into this world, it makes for an interesting novel.
Received a free galley from Random House Books for Young Readers via Netgalley; the review is my unbiased honest opinion.