Friday, 26 January 2018

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton ARC Review

I received an eARC from Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so so much! This is a spoiler free review.

The Belles
Written by Dhonielle Clayton
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Pages: 448
Source: ebook ARC provided by Disney-Hyperion and NetGalley
Places to Get this Book: Amazon Barnes and Noble Book Depository

Recommended Age: 13 and up!


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 requested this eARC on NetGalley and I was so excited when I got approved to read this ARC. The pretty cover is a coverup for the true monster that lies within the pages full of beautiful writing, makeup and description. I loved this book so much and I just want everyone to read it.


The cover is gorgeous plus having a woman of color on it is amazing! The cover deceives the reader into thinking this is a book about pretty things when it is really about the ugliness that hides underneath it all.


I really liked the world-building in this novel as we didn't get too much all at once which eased us into the world. The Belles is set in the fictional world of Orléans where a small number of girls (Belles) are able to create beautiful/ugly looks of the paying customer's desire. Everyone else is born grey and color can only be given to them by the Belles. The Belles also are forbidden to associate with men beyond a professional capacity and they can't engage in consensual relationships. It's a fascinating concept and done in a truly magnificent way.

Then there are the characters.


Sixteen year old Camellia is a Belle and she has been trained from a young age to become the favorite who will serve the Queen of Orleans. She is competing with her five fellow Belles: Edelweiss, Padma, Valeria, Hana and Ambrosia. When a terrible occurance takes place, Camellia takes over her sister Ambrosia's job as the favorite for the Queen. Camellia, however, is unprepared for what that means. Camellia doesn't start out as a strong heroine because she's determined to be the favorite and please the Queen and her daughter. However, once she realizes the true nature of the princess, she starts to come into her own which I loved. I liked Camellia's strength and determination.


Auguste is the son of the Minister of the Seas and he takes a quick fascination to Camellia. Although she is aware that she is forbidden to engage with Auguste, she is intrigued by his confidence and charisma. I loved Auguste for the majority of the book. He was so charistmatic and funny and I just adored him.


Sophia is the youngest daughter of the Queen and she is not meant to be heir to the throne, however her sister is unconcious so she would be the Queen if her sister doesn't wake up. Sophia is a determined young woman but is often consumed by jealousy which causes her to do horrendous things. Sophia wants to be the most beautiful woman in the world and abuses Belles in order to get what she wants.


The Belles of a generation are all raised to be sisters and to love each other as such which Camellia does despite being the favorite of the Queen. I loved the sister dynamic in this book which was something nice and refreshing to see.


The Belles is set in the fictional world of Orléans where a small number of girls (Belles) are able to create beautiful/ugly looks of the paying customer's desire. Everyone else is born grey and color can only be given to them by the Belles. All the Belles desire to be the favorite who is the one that gets to serve the Queen in her palace. However, there are a lot of things that the Belles don't know about how things work in Orléans and a lot of darker things are at play. 

There is a little bit of a romance between Auguste and Camellia but it isn't anything that takes over the plot. In fact, the romance takes a backseat to the plot and world. I did like what few scenes we got from the two of them.


I really enjoyed the writing as I could clearly imagine the characters and the setting which caused the book to be more immersive. The descriptions are very lavish which contrast with the darker plot lines that are hidden under the lavish world.


The writing is beautiful, the world unique and the descriptions lavish which makes for an interesting and enchanting story until we learn just what is up with this world and the dark secrets that lurk beneath the surface. The last hundred pages or so are intense and horrific and I just flew through them. I loved it and recommend it to everyone.

Quotes from the Book:

“You can never be clean enough, pretty enough, or smart enough.”

“No one is a prisoner. Even you have the power to make your own choices.” 

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Crowns