Title: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Series: The Belles #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: February 6th, 2018
Source: ARC from Bookish First
My rating: 5 stars
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.
This was such a beautiful book. The world was dazzling and I took my time reading so that I could picture every word and detail in my head. That’s often not the way I do things. A lot of time when I read, I tend to skim through the descriptions to just get to the story itself. But the author has created such a unique and fantastical world that it was impossible not to hang on every word on the page. Now, before you read much further into my review, I am not going to be able to promise no spoilers. I’ll do my best, but there are a few things I might give away as I think they might be important in my thoughts.
Basically we’re dropped right into the heart of the story, the exciting ceremony where each Belle tries to be chosen as the favorite to stay with the royal family. Unlike often happens in this type of a story (spoiler), our main character, Camellia, is not chosen as favorite to start. Even with her extremely inventive and impressive debut, she is not chosen because the queen does not feel that she followed directions, and that is what the queen is wanting.
Camellia starts out in the best salon and tea house however, where things aren’t quite as she assumed. There are noises of crying at night, and there seem to be other Belles. Which is unheard of, at least as far as Camellia or the general public knows. Right when she seems to be in the position to try to find out what is really going on and figure out these strange people, Camellia is whisked back to the palace and is suddenly the favorite. No one will tell her why, or why her sister who had been the favorite was suddenly switched places. There is one of their sisters, Edelweiss, who has run away.
Soon the princess must be prepared to become the heir, but there are two princesses. The older one is in a coma-like sleep, and it is unknown what is causing it, or how to cure her. The younger princess is a bit of a terror, has evil ideas, is petty, and uses her power as princess to make horrible things happen to people who displease her. Camellia finds out just how evil she is, but doesn’t know how she can help keep her from becoming the royal heir.
Then, there is the boy Auguste, who introduces himself to Camellia on the first night. And then he keeps showing up and flirting with her, asking her questions, wanting to get to know her, something she isn’t allowed to do. Boys and marriage and all of that are no-nos for a Belle. And while there’s something about him that of course is intriguing, he’s also one of the four suitors for the princess. As the royal Belle, Camellia gets a bodyguard named Remy. Now Remy, you have to like him, especially when you see him with his sisters.
I guess I didn’t realize it was a series, so at the last 100 pages I was all ready for seeing how the story could wrap up, how things could be saved. And for a while, I thought it was going there, but then, things collapsed, a betrayal, a twist, and Camellia and her sister had to go on the run. Now, I will be eagerly awaiting book 2, on the edge of my seat, needing to know what will happen next.
So, somehow I ended up with an extra finished copy of this book. I’m keeping the beautiful ARC for myself. One of the finished copies I got is being donated to my school where I am a librarian, and the other finished copy I’m putting into a giveaway for you, my wonderful readers and followers. Unfortunately I’ll have to make it US only due to shipping costs. 🙁 But if you are US, or have a US address I can send it to, please enter in the rafflecopter below!