Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication date: February 6th, 2018
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 434
Series: The Belles #1
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.
“May you always find beauty….”
Just like everyone else, I was stoked when The Belles came out. A brown girl on the cover, looking gorgeous and slayin’ it, no doubt is bound to be an epic fantasy read no?
Well, I have my reasons on why I didn’t exactly enjoy The Belles as much as everyone else did.
First off, the plot was excruciatingly slow. Is there some new trend in YA Fantasy where the plot takes 200 pages to build? Honestly, I haven’t got a clue how did I survive 200 pages where nothing happens and Camille, our protagonist wanders from client to client doing beauty work.
But despite a very slow start, I must admit the world building and writing in The Belles was very good. We’re introduced to a vibrant world of colors and jewels and extravagant customs that make the Orleansians such unique human beings. Being born gray and colourless, people of Orleans need to pay to get beauty work done on them in order to stay beautiful. Now, this is the most disturbing part of the book in my opinion. Constantly having to get beauty work done on you and trying to keep up with the latest trend….where have we heard that before? The Belles questions very well how media has played with the beauty image card for too long, leading to people not satisfied with their looks. This definitely made The Belles such an interesting read to begin with.
Asides from the world building and satisfactory writing, I don’t see what the hype surrounding The Belles is about. The protagonist is one of the least memorable aspects of this book, having so little to do with the scenes and not actually doing much asides from trying to figure out who she should please in the palace. It got a bit irritating when she did that one thing to someone, as if she’s weak when she was portrayed to be brave and a bit reckless from the beginning.
We were introduced to so many characters who played a crucial part in the ending of The Belles. Granted, these characters had very questionable traits in the sense of not being solid enough to give off memorable impressions. For example, I would have loved to know more of Belle history and of Camille’s other 5 sisters, but unfortunately the story revolved entirely on her adapting as the favourite Belle at the palace. Even her love interest fell bland for me, with no substance leaving me thinking “Good God, what does she see in him?”. But, if you’ll be reading The Belles for one reason, let that reason be for the princess. Her cruelty and savage personality is so delicious, she was the only thing I was most interested to read about in the end.
Overall, I wasn’t very impressed with The Belles but can see the appeal and why people are obsessed with the world CLAYTON has built in Orleans. I still think this is worth a try. Let me know if you’ve read it!
Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.