Sunday, 18 February 2018


Title: The Belles
Series: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz, Orion Publishing Group
Release Date: 8th February 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
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.


My thoughts approaching reading this book are that I'm not and never was a "girly-girl book reader" so not sure how I will like this one. Though the blurb makes me think though things may at first look good on the surface that other darker things are at work.

The cover made me think of The Selection Series by Kiera Cass and The Lone City Series by Amy Ewing. The Belles cover certainly caught my interest and held it long enough for me to want to know more about the female on it. It would make me pick it up from a book store shelf to read the blurb.

The genres that I have seen listed for this book are Sci-Fi and Fantasy which fit well but personally I would also add dystopian, and mythology to the list of genres. The part I would describe as dystopian is the alternate "different" world The Belles and the normal citizens live in. The part of the book I would classify as Mythology is all centered around the history of the Gods and Goddesses that created The Belles. 

At the beginning of the book I became a little impatient as it was very detailed and descriptive about the God of the Sky and the Goddess of Beauty and I was impatient to learn more about the Belles and their gifts straight away. Though I describe the beginning of the book that it slow but very descriptive start it soon pulls you in as you learn more about each individual Belle. Having said all that you soon realise the early descriptive part is definitely needed and when certain things happen in the book you do remember it and refer back to it. I ended up enjoying the whole backstory, mythology of the Goddess and the God of the Sky etc etc. and appreciating it the further I got into the book. To tell you a little, (though it is told in much more detail and better than I can explain) the Goddess of Beauty ends up truly upsetting the God of the Sky and he curses the normal people making them ugly. However the Goddess of Beauty sends the Belles to help the people. I loved the section n the book where Belles are described as "Roses growing out of a dark ravaged soil"

Belles have a special gift, they can use something called their arcana to create different images for the normal citizens. They can give the citizens that pay for their services any colour skin, hair, eye colour if choice as well as body shape etc. However different ruling Queens have passed laws with the help of the Beauty Minister putting limits on certain things such as waist size. 

This year there are just six new Belles, Edelweiss, Padma, Hana, Ambrosia, Valeria and Camellia. They all have their individual flowers to represent them twined in and around the carriages they are to be presented to the royal and the "common" citizens watching the parade. The Belles have been trained by Madam Du Barry, her family ancestors have held the same position for many years and she intends this to be a handed down position for many more years! The book then begins with the Beauté Carnaval, the festival that happens just once every three years. Though we discover further into the book that this festival was a more regular occurrence and usually had many more Belles taking part. There are the usual multitude of vendors selling sweet in honor of the Belles such as small mountains of shaved ice topped with strawberries the colour of the Belles lips, intricate teacakes shaped like the different Belles signature flowers, sweet puffs molded like the Belles hair buns and colourful strings of sugar pinwheeled around sticks to mirror our traditional waist sashes and dresses. There are Imperial guards that are in charge of pushing the crowds of people back so that the procession has space to pass through. The Belles are individually presented to the Royals, they are given a subject/person to make beautiful. The Belle that impresses the Royals the most will work at the Palace whilst the other Belles get to work in the different tea houses. Being the Queens favourite is all these young Belles have dreamed of. Camellia is convinced it will be her as her mother was a Queens favourite before she had her. To be honest you could say she does our perform the others but maybe the Queen has other requirements that perhaps Camellia doesn't suit. Who will be the Queen favourite and why?
I won't reveal who is the favourite as the "winner" should be revealed at the correct time in the book!

Quite naturally as Camellia is both one of main characters in this book and was also one that I loved the most. You do end up really rooting for her as she face many tests within the book that need to be overcome. When she is asked to use her arcana to do something that is forbidden her first reaction is to obey the rules. However when the person asking the favour is someone very important and her decision could affect the whole kingdom how long can she say no. . . The other Belle I instinctively adored was Edelweiss or Edel as her Belle sisters call her. Edel is rebellious and doesn't really care who knows it! I honestly wasn't sure of Ambrosia, she initially seemed to be caring but when she assumed she would win and her behaviour during the ceremony made me wary of her. 

The character I enjoyed not liking was Princess Sophia, she is a brilliant brat! It's awful how power and the possibility of being the next Queen can go to someone's head. So sad and a shame that an outwardly beautiful person can be so ugly inside. Princess Sophia shows more care and affection to her teacup animals. You really see an evil side to Princess Sophia. Those in favour with Sophia have to agree with her all the time, as if they fall out with Sophia she can be a very dangerous enemy. 

There is certainly a lot going on in this book such as the mystery of who is crying at night. Also why is the true heir to the crown Princess Charlotte in a deep coma like sleep? Then there are Princess Sophia's suitors. One in particular goes out of his way to befriend the Queens favourite Belle. What could he possibly want from a Belle?

The writing style and plot style reminded me of a couple of other series I have read some of. The society reminded me a little of Gennifer Albin's Crewel series (though I have read very little of the series.) The other book series the society and the upper class society attitudes towards the Belles was The Lone City Series by Amy Ewing. So if you have read and loved either of these books you need to read this book! Even if you haven't read those series this book seriously is a must read book!

I really loved some of the phrases within the book, such as "Beauty Is In The Blood" and the way the phrase "May You Always Find Beauty" is used in the book. In fact "May You Always Find Beauty" made me think about the Hunger Games and the whole "May the odds be in your favour"

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were Wow! Absolutely amazing read. I highly recommend reading this one. Please tell me it's book one and there's lots more to come in this series?

My final thoughts on the book are that it was a fantastic read that kept me hooked really wanting to learn more all the way through. This book is a great start to a possibly brilliant series. I can't wait for the next book!! I would be reading it right now if I could.

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