The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Oh my. Oh my oh my oh my. To say that this book has been one of my most anticipated reads for 2018 would be an understatement. To say that I’m SO EXCITED to review this book today would be a VAST UNDERSTATEMENT. But here it is, my gushing ranting to add to everyone else’s gushing ranting.

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Title: The Belles (The Belles #1) {448 pgs.}

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: February 6, 2018

Summary:

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.

Review:

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle, the only kind of human that is born full of color and the only kind of human that can give the people Orléans the kind of beauty only money can buy. Not content only being a Belle, Camellia wants to be the favorite of the queen and the impetuous Princess Sophia. After a false start, Camellia is sent to the palace in order to fulfill the whims of the rich, and those darker wishes of the princess. Inside the palace isn’t all beauty and happiness, and Camellia comes to find that the Belles might not be who she thought they were. Camellia must dodge persistent suitors {oh, dear Auguste}, dangerous rumors, and secrets that could destroy all she knows, all in order to do her job. Risking her own life, as well as the lives of her sisters, she takes on the daunting task of helping the queen bring back to life the oldest princess, a woman in a deep sleep and with no cure in sight.

First off, let’s scream over that cover some more. My GOD, I couldn’t keep my eyes off that cover when I first received the book in the mail. It’s even more gorgeous that the pictures I’ve seen all over the internet. It’s soft and pastel and the model is absolutely stunning {I don’t know who she is, and that might be better for both me and her} and it wraps you in warm thoughts before you dive into the dark world that waits for you inside the pages. You’ll want to frame it, trust me.

Second, the writing. Oh my god, the writing. It was luxurious and sumptuous, like slipping on a silk robe after taking a bath in rose petals. It made me simultaneously so jealous and so motivated, and I wanted to write a book while reading. There was so much world building, and by the end of the book, I got why Dhonielle Clayton took all that time to lay out the land. There’s also a handy-dandy map of Orléans, and I did refer back to it a time or two or four hundred. Dhonielle Clayton also made me really hungry with all of the food-related descriptions of the Belles and the people and the way the Belles create their beauty. Everything and everyone was “brown sugar” or “honey peach” or “marshmallow crème.” They were the perfect descriptions, but reading The Belles also made me want to eat s’mores wrapped in sugar and honey and dunked in milk, and really, I was here for it.

Third, the plot. Honestly, I thought that the plot would be about a young girl in a palace, giving people the beauty they wanted, and then everyone learning a very valuable lesson about beauty not being everything. I’m an idiot {and terribly clichéd, it seems}. I mean, yes, the whole book is telling the reader that beauty comes at a price and that being happy with who you are is a wonderful thing, but it also shows the dark side to wanting a certain kind of beauty. We see it everyday: how far people will go to be “perfect,” to attain the kind of beauty that they see in movies and makeup ads and magazine pages. But we are not born without color, we are not cursed by gods. The people of Orléans need beauty, or so they think, and if they don’t get exactly what they want, then someone has to suffer.

Princess Sophia is a prime example of this. Her older sister had always been the “naturally” beautiful one, but now it’s Sophia’s time to shine. She wants something new, something amazing, and she’ll do anything to get the kind of look that will make people talk for years. Sophia might also be a little unhinged. Just a smidge. But she’ll be the next queen, unless her sister makes a miraculous recovery, and so she can be as unhinged as she wants.

I want to stand on my roof and scream about this book. The Belles is one of the most talked about books of 2018, and there is definitely a reason for that. It’s wonderfully different and new and bright and shiny, and I can’t wait until I can read it again. It’s one of those books where I NEED to know what happens next {I read it in a weekend because I refused to go anywhere until it was done}, and it’s killing me inside.

If you haven’t already pre-ordered The Belles, what are you still doing here? Go pre-order it now! You do not want to miss out on this one.

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