Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publication Date: February 8th 2018
Format: eARC (434 pages)
I am a Belle. I control Beauty.
In the opulent world of Orléans, the people are born grey and damned, and only a Belle’s powers can make them beautiful.
Camellia Beauregard wants to be the favourite Belle – the one chosen by the queen to tend to the royal family.
But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favourite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that her powers may be far greater – and far darker – than she ever imagined.
When the queen asks Camellia to break the rules she lives by to save the ailing princess, she faces an impossible decision: protect herself and the way of the Belles, or risk her own life, and change the world forever.
My Rating: ★★★★.5
I think you would be hard pushed to find someone in the YA blogging world who has not seen the hype for this book, it has been talked about on social media for months so I was super excited when I got the opportunity to read and review this book.
The Belles is everything that I thought it would be … and more. It is full of lavish descriptions of the Belle world, its plot twists and turns and its characters are full of secrets. The writing is gorgeous and there are so many beautifully detailed descriptions that this book was really brought to life. I could easily imagine the gorgeous dresses, the mouth watering food and the glamorous life of the court (well on the outside, anyway). I have to admit that it did take me a little while to get into this book but I think that is mainly down to me needing to take the time to carefully sit and read about the world and to let myself become fully immersed but once I was in, I was IN. This book has pretty much everything I love about a YA book: a host of interesting characters, an excellent ‘villain’, twisty turny plot, deception, sisters and a good element of mystery.
Camellia and her sisters are the newest Belles in Orléans and the story opens with them competing to become the favourite to the Queen. I loved that one of the main concepts of this book was simply that everything is not what it seems and in this book, being the favourite certainly isn’t everything that she had hoped for. The world of the Belles is a cruel one to say the very least and, actually, there is nothing at all glamorous about being a Belle, in reality they are more like beauty servants, having to bend their knee to their appointees and complete all sorts of different enhancements and modifications, despite what they think about it.
Camellia herself was a breath of fresh air because she isn’t one to sit back and simply do as she is told. From the very first few chapters we see her more independent and rebellious streak and I LIVED for that so much. Her loyalty to her sisters was something else that I really valued about her and it really helped me to make a connection with her. She is compassionate and, my favourite of all, she has flaws (yay!). I love that we get to see Camellia struggle with her new life as a Belle and I could really sympathise with her at times, especially when she was being forced to do things she really didn’t want to do.
As for the other characters, I didn’t really feel much of a connection with them but I did LOVE Sophia despite how terrifying she was and how uncomfortable quite a lot of her actions made me. There were scenes with her that literally turned my stomach but it was also a great representation of the damage that those in positions of power can be allowed to cause simply because of who they are and not because of what is right or wrong.
I love, love, loved the concept of this book. How beauty was brought so much to the forefront and so could be explored as a necessity; something that I think is SO relevant to society today. Beauty is literally everything in the world of the Belles and throughout the book you see the lengths that some people will go to just to look a certain way. The idea behind the Belles’ power was really thought provoking and I couldn’t help but wonder how a power like that in the real world would affect all of our choices when it came to our appearance.
The Belles is a thought provoking read set in a rich and luxurious world which will have you questioning just how far you would go to achieve ‘beautiful’.
Thanks to Gollancz, Dhonielle Clayton and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange of a fair and honest review.
Have you read The Belles? Is it on your TBR?
How far would you go to achieve ‘beautiful’?