Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles (The Belles #1)
Dhonielle Clayton
Disney-Hyperion
Published February 6, 2018

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Belles

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.

The Belles on Goodreads

My Review

Note: A few years ago, I partnered with another reviewer who reviewed THE BELLES for The Story Sanctuary. I don’t want to negate or take anything away from her review, but ever since I read the sequel, THE EVERLASTING ROSE, and found that I enjoyed it, I have been thinking of adding my own review of the first book in the series. So at last, here I am with my own review. Yay!

I really enjoyed THE BELLES. I liked the strange story world, in which tiny blimps trail perfume down hallways and balloons deliver messages. Where tiny teacup pets are all the rage.

It’s a story about powerful women who can impart beauty to others, but in a world which doesn’t allow them their own freedom.

I was a fan of Camellia from the very beginning. She’s smart and a bit impulsive, but she consistently reminds others of their value beyond beauty treatments. She tries to see the best in people. She wants to be the best.

Since this is a story that centers around beauty, I think I was prepared for it to be a shallow kind of book. Parties and glamor and fashion. And there are all those things present in the story. But I think because they’re set against this really sinister backdrop– with the Belles having so little freedom of their own, and with deeply troubling things coming to light– I felt like it had a great balance of celebrating beauty and also looking beyond it.

The relationship between Camellia and the story’s villain had me on the edge of my seat. I did not expect a lot of what happened between them. I did not expect her to be so terrifying. I had to keep reading because I had to know what Camellia would do.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this book– both books in the duology, actually. Dhonielle Clayton will be the author of one of the books in The Mirror series, and I’m even more excited now to read that book. (Check out my review of the series opener BROKEN WISH by Julie C. Dao.)

I think fans of THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass will love this book centered around women, power, and beauty.

The Belles on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Representation
Characters have various skin tones and racial characteristics, but other than the Belles, these are artificially created. The Belles themselves represent a diverse group of people. A couple of minor characters are lesbians.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kisses between boy and girl and two girls. (See violent content for trigger warning.)

Spiritual Content
Belles are created by the Goddess of Beauty. Other mentions of the God of the Sky and the God of the Sea.

Violent Content – Trigger Warning for Sexual Assault
A man attacks a woman, kissing her against her will and ripping her dress. It’s clear he means to rape her and it’s later hinted that he has a long history of this kind of predatory behavior.

A woman describes another person tormenting an animal and eventually killing it. Other brief mentions of harm to animals.

A woman bullies others, including forcing a Belle to transform them in humiliating or inappropriate ways.

In a couple instances, intense beauty treatments result in the death of the person being treated.

Drug Content
Belle Rose tea acts as a pain reliever, allowing clients to endure physical transformations with less pain than they would ordinarily cause. One of Camellia’s clients brews her own, stronger elixir from the tea.

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About Kasey Giard

I'm a mama, reader, and writer. Passionate about peppermint (it's not just for Christmas, okay?!), fly fishing, and movie night.

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