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Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

A gorgeously written fantasy that explores how far we’d go to become ‘beautiful’.

The Belles Summary

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, 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 favourite – the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognised 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 Orleans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide – save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles – or resuscitate the princes, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

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The Belles Review

I’d heard so many people talking about The Belles and the cover is so gorgeous that I decided to give it a try, even though I find fantasy novels to be really hit and miss. I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed it more than I expected to and ended up reading it pretty quickly after a bit of a slow start.

Dhonielle has managed to create a colourful, rich world that’s as believable as it is unbelievable. It’s a little bit dystopian, touching on topical subjects such as what society believes makes a person beautiful and how far we’ll go to make ourselves fit that mould.

The writing is stunning – it’s very descriptive and sometimes flowery, but I enjoyed that because I felt that its style suited the subject perfectly.

Most of the characters jump from the pages and squeeze at your heart, some of them not at all in a good way. There were moments that made me feel so uncomfortable and others that made me want to scream in frustration, I really was on the edge of my seat with this one.

I would say that I found most of the characters surrounding Camellia, both good and bad, more interesting to read about than Camellia herself, but I didn’t really notice that until I was reflecting on this book once I’d finished.

There’s a touch of romance going on here, but it’s not particularly memorable and isn’t at the core of the story. I hope there’s a little bit more in the sequel – The Everlasting Rose.

Oh, and the teacup animals! How cute are they!? Potentially cruel depending on how they were made but the idea of a teacup elephant wandering around my house is adorable. Or maybe I’d go for a giraffe.

Have you read The Belles yet? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.

My rating

**** 4/5 stars

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