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 grey, 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 favourite 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.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review but this did not affect my opinion at all.
I went into this book with very expectations because despite it not yet being out, it has already got a considerable amount of hype surrounding it and it did not disappoint. The Belles was a fantastic start to a new series. I was wary to go into it, mainly because I knew that it was the start of a new series and I would have to wait a while for the sequel but as soon as I started reading it, I could not put it down.
Camellia was an interesting lead character to follow. Unlike most other fantasy books with a similar setting, she didn’t go into her circumstance with a rebellious attitude. Yes, she had a rebellious streak but she wasn’t against the way that the world ran, unlike most other YA protagonists. I found this particularly interesting to follow because we got to see her progression and changes in thought as more of the way everything ran was opened up to her. She seemed like a realistic main character. She wasn’t a badass strong fighter but she also wasn’t a damsel in distress. She was the perfect balance between strong and weak which I think gave her more of a human side and made her easier to understand and root for. I also loved seeing the contrast between her and her other sisters, particularly Edel and Amber. Many other authors would have chosen to have the book in the point of view of someone like Edel and I respect the fact that Dhonielle Clayton chose to stray away from the norms of YA protagonist traits.
The world of the Belles was so incredibly unique, yet there was something so raw and true about it. Yes, our world does not put as much of an emphasis on beauty as the world of the Belles does, but some of the reactions and demands seemed like something that would happen in our society. It was a reflection of our society in a fantasy world. It really makes you think about the emphasis we put on beauty and I think that was the aim of the author.
I personally cannot wait for the sequel. Whilst I found some things easy to predict in this novel, it still managed to shock me with its many twists and turns. This series has the potential to quickly become one of my favourite series so I just hope the rest of the series is as good as the first book.
I highly recommend you pick up this book when it is released in February. I think it’s perfect for YA Fantasy fans and I can see this quickly becoming a favourite among the YA community.