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.
Fantasy – Young Adult
I just finished this novel, and the least I can say is that I was not expecting this at all. Honestly, I’m not sure what I expected exactly. All I know is that I had heard a great deal about this book and I was really excited to read it. But I had also managed to avoid spoilers, and so I jumped in without expectation. I’m glad I did, cause I’ve had a great time reading The Belles.
Right from the start I was captivated by the unique and rich universe imagined by the author. The world of the Belles is like nothing I’ve read before. Indeed it is both dark and colorful, and really complex. Moreover, I’ve got the feeling that we barely scratched the surface with this first book and that there is so much more to discover. Needless to say, I’m already hyped for book two.
My favorite part of this novel is the plot. Obviously, this is the first book in a very dense universe so the beginning is on the slower side. But I was expecting that and found that it was well managed by the author. Plus, once the intrigue kicks in, there’s no downtime. We go from one plot twist to the other until the thrilling finale.
“Lies are as dangerous as a sword. They can cut to the bone.”
I loved the antagonist (meaning I loved hating them). I won’t give you any name cause finding out where the threat comes from is half the fun in the first chapters. But I have to say that villain might just be a new favourite. I’ve rarely read about such a twisted and vicious character. As they say, there are no good stories without a good villain, and on that front, The Belles doesn’t disappoint.
However, I can’t give The Belles a five-star rating or say that it’s a new favorite. Indeed there were a couple of things I didn’t enjoy while reading the book. First off, I had a love/hate relationship with Camille (our main character). I felt that her attitude and reactions were often childish and honestly she was getting on my nerve. Although I must admit that toward the end I finally saw some improvment.. so there’s hope! Speaking of characters, I would have liked to get to know Camille’s sisters a bit more, especially Edel whom I loved. I also loved Remy and I’m really curious to see how this character will evolve in the rest of the series.
Finally, I didn’t appreciate the romance in The Belles. Even I am surprised to be typing that, cause romance is usually one of my favorite things in a book. But with this one, it felt forced right from the start and I never really bought it. Plus, I believe in wasn’t necessary to the plot and could have been removed from the book altogether.
In conclusion, I’ve had a great time with this novel and if it sounds like something you might enjoy, I think you should give it a chance. As for me, I’ll be quietly waiting for the second book.