Published by Disney-Hyperion on February 6th 2018
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.
I read The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton when I was in Japan. I hoped it wouldn’t be too heavy, but I was already in too deep when I realised what it really was about. This book kept me company during my jetlagged hours on my ereader. The screen was lit and my husband could still sleep while I was reading. And what great company it was.
Camille pulled in her world of belles and grays, a new world of Orleans, not quite like ours. I loved the world Clayton created, even when it’s filled with a lot of ugly things and hate. It’s the contrast between the two opposites, the inherent conflict, that makes the world interesting. Orleans isn’t a world I’d want to live in. The obsession with beauty goes too far. And that’s what this book is about. Absolute beauty isn’t the best.
The characters sometimes feel a bit naive, young. But then I remember that the belles, or at least Camille and her sisters, are only sixteen years old. They’re not supposed to be wise. They make mistakes, misunderstand, but they don’t forget their feelings. The relationship between Amber and Camille for example. They grew up as sisters, so one argument shouldn’t be enough to drive them apart forever. There’s still that sisterly love, no matter how competitive both are.
The political intrigue actually reminded me of one of my WIPs. I’ll read The Belles again to study it a bit more, because it’s exactly the feeling I want to have in my own book. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed this book so much; it’s a book I would’ve written because I wanted to read it.
I give The Belles four stars for keeping me entertained through long hours of jetlag. It reminded me a bit of Caraval but less crude. I would’ve finished this in one sitting if I was at home. Very entertaining although some bits feel a bit overdone. I’m looking forward to reading the next book!