The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Trigger Warnings: Attempted rape, deadnaming

SynopsisCamellia 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: The Belles was a wild ride. The synopsis and the cover might make it seem like a fluffy book about beauty, but that's far from the truth. To start, Camellia is a fantastic character. She's easy to relate to, but obviously very flawed. She has this issue with following the rules in ways that might not get her into immediate trouble, but it impacts her later. Camellia's ability to see a person's natural beauty was touching. Remy (sorry, I know I'm missing the accent mark) and Auguste were both fun to read. I enjoyed every interaction they had with Camellia. The relationship Camellia had with her sisters was great. There was a bit of jealousy in there, but they love each other so much and, when one of them is hurting, they all hurt. It's a connectivity you don't see in many other books.

The story itself was amazing. I enjoyed every second if it. From the time the Belles displayed their power to the queen, to the very last page, I didn't want to put this book down. The world was interesting to explore and I liked learning about the Belles and their powers. I usually have a general distrust of all characters when I read a book, but I wanted almost everyone in The Belles to be good and to make it out. There was so much court intrigue in The Belles. That's normally a hit or miss for me, but I never got bored reading about court life and seeing Camellia in her day-to-day activities. Dhonielle even put a bit of a mystery in this novel as well which I found very impressive. This book is the complete package when it comes to a starting fantasy.

Beautiful book with amazing characters. It will have you on the edge of your seat.

5 howls