This book was easily my most anticipated read of 2018 – well, almost, there are so many incredible new releases, it’s hard to keep up, let alone choose one we are anticipating the most. THAT is another question for another day, though. I was eagerly waiting for The Belles to be released, to devour it and hopefully, love it. You know how it is, when you’re expecting a lot… afraid of being disappointed. Here, thankfully, I wasn’t… let’s check out why now, shall we.
Dhonielle Clayton, The Belles, Published by Disney Hyperion, February 6th, 2018.
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
- I expected to be blown away by the world-building in this story and… I was. It was rich, imaginative, colorful, brilliant. I tend to be fascinated with worlds talking about beauty, what beauty is “supposed” to be and so on and The Belles was really good for that. It made me dream, it made me scream, it made me ashamed and cringe at what people will do for the latest “trend”.
- The writing style perfectly gives life to this story. Fair warning, the metaphors and sometimes long descriptions aren’t for everyone, but I personally really felt engrossed in this story.
- The characters were quite unique, flawed and definitely complex. I appreciated how Camellia, our main character, was fierce, ambitious and determined, even if that mindset made me want to scream at her and her behavior more than once. I liked to see her rise, change, grow as the story went on.
- Diversity was included in this story in a beautiful way, especially knowing that our main character is a POC, so is our author.
- I also appreciated the relationships between the characters… strangely, it wasn’t the romantic parts that made me happiest. I appreciated how the relationship and friendship developed between Camellia and Bree the most.
- REMY deserves a point just for him, because he was pretty amazing okay.
I HAD A HARD TIME WITH…
- I was a bit surprised by the pacing of this story: if you’re expecting to be thrown right into the heart of action, you will be disappointed. The Belles has a slow beginning, it takes its time to set up the world, the characters, the stakes, which means that there isn’t much action before the 50%-mark. I loved the world-building, but I was eagerly waiting for the action to come, too. (I was happy when it did. It was much darker than I’d anticipated it. I loved it).
- This book suffers from the “bury your gays” trope and…. Well that’s not really cool. I’m not going to develop on that, because Elise wrote a wonderful post about this trope so I will refer to her.
Overall, The Belles was still a brilliant read for me. I fell in love with the world-building, the writing and the fierce main character. If I expected the action to rise a little earlier, it did not take away any of my enjoyment for this story and I am very, very impatient to see where this series will take us.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Trigger warnings: attempted sexual assault.
Did you read The Belles? What did you think of it? Do you want to read it?
What’s the latest book that impressed you with its world-building? Let me know in comments!