Title: The Belles
Author: Dhionelle Clayton
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Series: The Belles, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I’ve had The Belles on my list since before it came out; I read Clayton’s debut novel, Tiny Broken Things, coauthored by Sona Chairaipotra, and I was totally spellbound, so when I heard that she was writing a brand-new series opener, I was so excited. I had to return it a few times, but at last, I got a chance to read it, and I was really surprised! This book is the best that Clayton has penned yet, and I’m so ready for more! A beautiful, powerful treatise on the meaning of power, beauty, autonomy, and free will, The Belles was a gorgeously written, thoughtful and action-packed debut; I felt like I’ve been waiting for this book my whole life, and I can’t wait for the sequel, slated for release next year! Clayton has outdone herself with this book, and it’s one of my favorites of the year.
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle, and in the glittering, opulent world of Orleans, she and her sisters are revered, treasured as descendants of the Goddess of Beauty; their help is the only way that the damned and gray people of Orleans can be beautiful. But Camellia wants more than to be a Belle; she wants to be the favorite of the royal family. But when she and her beloved sisters finally arrive at court, she realizes that being the favorite is not the gilded pipe dream that she imagined. Dark, terrible secrets are hiding under the surface of the royal family’s shiny veneer, and things get even more complicated when she discovers that everything she’s been taught is a lie. Her powers are even greater—and more dangerous—than she could’ve ever imagined. When the queen asks Camille to use her powers to help one of her daughters, she is caught between the desire to fulfill her lifelong dream of being the treasured favorite or saving herself and her sisters. All power comes at a price, and it might just be too high for her to pay…
This book was really interesting! Easily one of my favorite books of the year. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately seduced by the glittering, beautiful world of Orleans; the prose was beautiful and I loved the way that Clayton structured the worldbuilding. I really liked the way that the book discussed relevant themes, like the meaning of beauty, power, autonomy, free will and choice; it was thoughtful, well-written, and powerful, and I will never forget it. But my favorite parts of the book were Camille and her sisters; I loved Camille’s voice, I loved her almost as much as the world in which she lived. The political intrigue was exciting, and constantly had me guessing throughout the book. I loved all of the characters, especially the royal family and Auguste. I loved the feeling throughout the book; that no one was to be trusted, and that under all of the pretty promises of the court, darker things lurked. It gave me more than a little bit of claustrophobia. And that ending! Oh my gosh, I’m so upset that I have to wait until next year for the sequel! All I know is that this book is nothing less than a knockout, and I can’t for the sequel! The bottom line: A gorgeous, dark, beautifully written series opener, I loved The Belles! One of the best books of the year, and I can’t wait for what’s next! Next on deck: Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist!