Belles, The

Dhonielle Clayton
In the opulent world of Orleans Belles are revered for they control Beauty, the commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born damned and only with the help of a Belle transform and be made beautiful. But it's not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle - she wants to be the favourite of the Queen of Orleans. But 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.


Reviewed: 2020-07-10

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

The Belles is set in a fantasy alternative New Orleans where people are born grey, except The Belles, who can make and transform citizens into beautiful beings using their gift of arcana. Camellia Beauregard has trained her whole life to be the Perfect, the Belle that works in the Royal Court and helps makes the "Beauty Laws" of the kingdom. As soon as her and her sisters join the Court, they quickly learn it's everything they've ever learned is a lie. Camellia is also asked by the Queen to risk her own life to help spare that of her eldest daughter's by using her arcana in an unconventional way. Camellia must decide where she wants to stand: save herself and her sisters, or risk it all to save the kingdom and her world forever.

The writing style of The Belles was one of my favorite parts. There were many descriptions of things where they were compared to food or candies. As much as that possibly sounds strange, Dhonielle Clayton does a decent job at it.

"The sky and its clouds are made of melting cherries and flaming oranges and burnt grapefruit as the sun sinks into the sea...My powdered skin makes me look like an overly frosted piece of caramel cake"

Though, with that comparison, there's also issues. Food was used a lot to describe skin color and had the potential to be racist. I know that's the world building and because the characters do eat a lot of extraordinarily sweet treats often, I can see how that's an 'easy comparison' for them to do.

I really enjoyed the cast of characters: Camellia, Remy, Bree, and Edel. I liked Amber as well, but sometimes I felt like Camellia would portray her one way and then she'd do something that seemed like it would be out of character for her. She wasn't the main character so we really weren't able to see what she was thinking throughout so she made me curious. I was also so intrigued with Princess Sophia and her development throughout the book. The villains in this story are scary, dark, and cruel! They had me wanting other characters to just get as far away from them as they possibly could before something happened.

Overall this is entertaining for a YA fantasy novel. It will keep the pages turning as you read. I had already asked for the next book from my library halfway through reading the first. I'm pretty excited to continue reading this series.

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