Review of The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (digital arc)

 

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The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

 

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.

 

Hardcover, 448 pages
Expected publication: February 6th 2018 by Disney-Hyperion

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

Dhonielle Clayton created such a magical world for The Belles. Her writing is beauitful and descriptive. It is so easy to picture everything as you read it.

Camellia, Ambrosia (Amber), Edelweiss (Edel), Hana, Padma, and Valeria are The Belles. They were gifted by the Goddess of Beauty and this blood creates a sort of magic, but they don’t call it a magical ability. They call it their arcana and it helps them create color and beauty. The people of Orleans are born grey with blood red eyes. Everyone looks the same. The Belles are there to help them, mostly the rich, change the way they look and to stand out from one another.

Each girl competes to become the favorite. She is the one who stays with the Queen and King. The favorite is the best and most powerful Belle. But she must also follow orders and be obedient. The rest of the girls are sent to different places to live and serve. The girls quickly learn that things aren’t perfect like they expected. There is loud crying at night coming from different areas of the palaces/homes they are living in. They realize there are secret beauty treatments taking place then. People tend to want to push them to do more than they should. There are rules to follow and things that their arcana shouldn’t change.

There are so many characters in this book, so I’m only going to talk about a handful of them that stood out.

Camellia is our main Belle that we follow throughout most of the story. She’s strong, but also a bit definiant. She’s one of the odd people who thinks people are beautiful without all the work. She can find beauty in anyone. I loved her strength and her values.

Amber is the sister that Camellia is closest to. But I had a hard time liking Amber. She is too uptight and must be perfect at all times. She is a rule follower.

Edel was my other favorite sister and I really wish there was more of her. She was funny and didn’t follow the rules.

Auguste is a boy that shows up and starts talking to Camellia. He’s very charming and persistent.

Remy is the guard for Camellia. He was a bit uptight, but I ended up really liking him. Especially when he started trying to joke around a bit. His relationship with his sisters was sweet.

Then there is Sophia. I don’t think I have enough words to describe how much I disliked her. Sophia is the queen’s youngest daughter. Her older sister is in a coma, so Sophia will become the queen. But this girl is seriously messed up. And she just kept getting worse throughout the book.

I thought this book did a great job showing the dangers of beauty. The parents in the book didn’t care about the pain or how they made their children feel. All they cared about was how beautiful they could become. Most of them thought being super skinny was most important. I did love that each skin color seemed to be loved by everyone. But everything else had to help them stand out. It reminded me a lot about how women are viewed in Hollywood. They just keep getting thinner. If a feature isn’t perfect, they have plastic surgery. They need to have the hair that creates the next big trend, the outfit that stands out above everyone else, the perfect straight, white teeth. It’s like it’s never enough and it’s dangerous. Standing out and being different is good, but who says that one thing is more beautiful than another. Our country puts so much pressure on girls at a young age to be thin and beautiful. I found that this book really shows a lesson on the dangers of that.

I’ve seen some negative reviews where people were really upset by the use of dandy. And I’m not quite sure why. It wasn’t meant as a slur and was a common word used in the past (yankee doodle dandy anyone?). There was a line that stated that the minister of beauty was followed by “his team of dandies”. This term is used correctly by definition and the past timeframe (I assume this book isn’t present time.) The definition of dandy is: a man unduly devolted to style, neatness, and fashion in dress and appearance. I’m not sure why anyone is hurt by that. It’s not a negative word and shouldn’t be associated with sexuality. Maybe it’s become a slur that I’ve never heard, but it’s not meant to be one. Here is a longer definition: A dandy is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self. Historically, especially in late 18th- and early 19th-century Britain, a dandy, who was self-made, often strove to imitate an aristocratic lifestyle despite coming from a middle-class background. Though previous manifestations of the petit-maître and the Muscadin have been noted by John C. Prevost, the modern practice of dandyism first appeared in the revolutionary 1790s, both in London and in Paris.

This book has some backstabbing and it’s hard to know who to trust. The last 1/4 of the book was really hard to put down.

There are some things that probably need trigger warnings. First, self image. I can see that this book might upset people because many of the royals want to be thin and associate it with beauty.   I know that can upset me.  Not everyone is thin though.  They just have to have rules about how small a waist can be because people push it.  All colors are thought to be beautiful and perfect and that was great to see.  Another thing is that there is an attempted sexual assault. There is also death of kind, innocent people (one that can be hurtful to some).  Sexuality doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue to the people, but dating a servant is definitely looked down on.

I ended up really loving this book. It was a little slow for me early on, but that was really the only fault I had with it. I gave it 4 1/2 stars (rounded up to 5 for goodreads). Thank you to netgalley for providing me a copy to read and review.

 

 

Have you read The Belles yet?  If so, what did you think of it?  

 

 

Author: confessionsofayareader

I'm Kristi. I'm a wife, mom, and grandma. I have been breeding leopard geckos for ten years. I love to read and have been trying to review more books (the reason for this blog besides wanting to talk about books with everyone). I also love music and going to concerts, mostly punk and pop punk.

17 thoughts on “Review of The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (digital arc)”

      1. That’s what I’m hoping. I always go into books with an open mind because everyone has their own opinions and are affected by certain things in different ways. I also remind myself that it’s fiction and not reality. I think some people forget that some times. Everyone is entitled to their own imaginations.

        Liked by 1 person

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