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.

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.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! Allison and I chose The Belles as our book to read together last week, so here is my review!

“No one is a prisoner. Even you have the power to make your own choices.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Remy

Spoiler Free: This book was a rollercoaster ride. A slow start, a slow build up to the first big drop, the first big twist. Then suddenly you’re falling, and you’re not quite sure when you’ll stop. The drop is bigger than you expected, curving and twisting at moments, but then you start to get used to it. You start to expect each curve, each spin, and it starts to feel drawn out. You start to see the end of the ride, and wonder, “Is this it? Was the fun in the middle?” But you are wrong, and suddenly everything is thrown upside down and your heart is in your throat once again. Before you have the chance to process all this, the ride jerks to a stop, and forcing you off, leaving you to wait for the next ride once again.

That, in a long metaphor, is my experience with this book. I did really like it, and I really want to read what happens next, but there were some issues. It was mainly a pacing (slow, quick, slow, quick drop of info then end) issue, and some holes in the plot, but overall I do highly recommend this!

Additionally, the world is super interesting. While it could’ve been better explained at points, I really enjoyed learning about a world so obsessed with beauty, and all the different ways they go about getting that. Also, in order to make us want and truly see that beauty, we were given lushious descriptions of dresses, eyes, hair, and all the rest. We fell into this world wanting that beauty as well, wanting to see what creation Camellia made next, even with all the problems that came with it.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

Spoilers: My main issue had to be with the pacing. To begin with, we had kind of a slow start as Camellia wasn’t original the favorite, and build-up originally had to start and describe a new location. Then, as we were starting to get wrapped up in the mysteries there, we had to switch to a new location with even more mysteries, all while keeping in mind the ones already revealed. Additionally, the plot lulled after the queen asked Camellia to wake up Charlotte, as a lot of the book was dedicated to her “making her decision” when it was already kind of obvious what she would do. It felt like the author was trying to think up more reasons for why Camellia couldn’t try yet, but they weren’t always so convincing. This also led to an extreme build up of mysteries that needed to be resolved, and all of this was done in the last chapter or two.

Lastly, some of the plot choices were not my favorite. It was kind of silly how no one realized that the Camellia was poisoned by the same thing as Charlotte, even as the nurses directly said that they couldn’t find anything in her blood. Additionally, Camellia completely forgot about Bree the chapter after she was put in a starvation box, which was kind of upsetting. Lastly, we never heard anything more about Sophia being poisoned. While this could be something that comes back later, it kinda just felt completely forgot about. But, this is a debut! So these small mistakes did not take too much away from the book in the end, even though that is what I am dwelling on now.

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