Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

GENRE: 

Young Adult, Fantasy

PAGES:

440 pages

PART OF A SERIES?:

1st in a Planned Duology. The Everlasting Rose releases March 5th 2019.

RELEASE DATE: 

February 6th 2018

 

PUBLISHER:

Disney Hyperion

SOURCE:

EBook Borrowed From Library

YOU CAN FIND THE BOOK AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE/LIBRARY OR THE FOLLOWING LINKS:

GoodReads

IndieBound

Amazon

Audible

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Google Play

Author’s Website

GOODREADS SUMMARY: 

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

MY REVIEW

I cannot believe that its taken me this long to sit down and read this novel. I have had the ARC since November 2017…how! I don’t know if it was just another book in my TBR pile or what, but I’m so glad that I sat down to read it. I was sick in bed, I borrowed an ebook from the library and literally read it in one sitting.

I love the uniqueness to the story. It does remind me slightly of the glamours that the Lunar people are capable of in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles but it feels overly deceptive in Meyer’s books whereas in this book, its just this common knowledge that everyone deserves it, though, of course, higher classes get to change their appearances to fit the current style like one would change a shirt. Its an interesting concept that I found utterly fascinating. I’ve only ever had my face and sure, I could make modifications to do it but for the most part, this is what I look like. To be able to drastically change myself, my face and my body, to suit what is popular at the moment…I’m not sure how I would feel about it. I’d like to think I would keep myself the way I am, maybe some minor adjustments – straighter, whiter teeth, maybe smooth out those stretch marks – but I don’t know. I think it would be easy to be caught up in the ability of it if you were used to it and the citizens of Orleans are obsessed with it. There is a scene with a little girl toward the beginning of the novel that is just truly horrifying to me.

Dhonielle builds a really interesting world and what’s amazing about it is that there is so little answered about it! So much of it is a complete mystery. We get the myth of the Goddess of Beauty and the God of the Sky and the mythology of the Belles and all of that but its more than just Camellia learning new things but the reader feels a little left in the dark about the whole thing in the first place. It all seems a little…wobbly in places but the entire faction of society believes it, doesn’t even question it and I find that absolutely fascinating. Its partly what keeps me hooked from the first page to the last – the mystery of how this system works, how the arcana works, all of it is so intriguing and I’m a Ravenclaw, I need answers! I can’t wait to see what answers I get in the next book!

What really makes this such a fantastic book was the characters and I mean more than just Camellia. Camellia is a compelling character but it is the relationship she has to her position – not as the favorite, as a Belle – and her relationship with her sisters that makes her so interesting and so lovable. I love every single one of the Belles that we meet, even though we get to meet them so briefly. They are so well fleshed out that I was immediately attached to them right away. I missed them as much as Camellia did and I’m super hoping that we get more of all of them in the next book. The ending leads me to believe that we will get two additional Belles to Camellia but I hope the other three make an appearance as well as some retired Belles. I’m seriously fascinated with them, what they can do and the bond they share with each other.

Lastly, my god. Without spoiling too much because I keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible ….I adore a female villain. There are just not enough of them and I really enjoy when they exist and I love when they’re evil for other reasons besides a man. Nothing particularly wrong with that but it does get old and one-dimensional so so fast. But the villain in this book is so deliciously evil and I am still creeped out by her. I’m probably going to have nightmares about her for weeks and the horrible things she did and what she’ll probably do in the next book. Its hard to think of her being defeated but I honestly can’t wait to see what happens next. Dhonielle wrote an absolutely stellar novel.

RATING:

4.5 out of 5 Stars

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