Title: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Series: The Belles #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Fantasy, Magic, Young adult
Dates read: 8th – 10th October 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: She touches the textured pattern of my gown.
I am a Belle. I control Beauty.
In the opulent world of Orléans, the people are born grey and damned, and only a Belle’s powers can make them beautiful.
Camellia Beauregard wants to be the favourite Belle – the one chosen by the queen to tend to the royal family.
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 her powers may be far greater – and far darker – than she ever imagined.
When the queen asks Camellia to break the rules she lives by to save the ailing princess, she faces an impossible decision: protect herself and the way of the Belles, or risk her own life, and change the world forever.
I read this as part of a “underrated book” prompt for a reading challenge. It’s just one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf for a little while, and I figured I’d eventually get to it. And then I did… and WOW. This was really good. And fun. And just… wow. Most DEFINITELY underrated. One of the best young adult books I feel I’ve read in a while… there was just something wonderful, intense and seriously positive about this whole experience.
One of the aspects of this book that I absolutely loved was show much it really made you stop and think about how we define beauty. And, ultimately, the emphasis that we place upon it. The risks that some people take, and the lengths that people will go to be the “most beautiful”. Every moment of horror in this story are completely recognisable and it ultimately comes down to the premium that is placed on looks. There is also the whole idea that beauty is just “skin deep”. It’s when you start drilling down to the person underneath… that, well, in this story makes you seriously shudder in revulsion to be completely frank.
I didn’t pick the villain of this story at first (which was AWESOME). In fact, it took a little while to click as to just who the villain was and what their drivers were. To be fair, I’m still not completely confident on the motivations… I’ve put it all down to “that bitch is crazy”. But she was an amazing villain. Subtle, secretive and with a lot of power. These are the kinds of villains that I find truly terrifying, because it’s hard to imagine how anyone could beat them. I suppose I’ll just have to pick up the next Belle book to find out…
There are a multitude of unexpected twists and turns throughout this novel. They are captivating, make your heart skip a beat, and just downright pluck all of your emotions. It turned this book into not only a fantastic idea with beautiful and poignant themes, but also one which I seriously couldn’t look away from and forget about. It’s going to take all of my self control (again) to finish some of my currently reading books before diving into the sequel…
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