The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

“You have to decide for yourself. It is you who must live with the outcome.” – Camellia’s Maman

Synopsis: In the world of Orléans, the people are born grey and plain. The Belles use their gifts given to them by the Goddess of Beauty to make them beautiful. Camellia Beauregard wants to be the best Belle, to surpass her sisters, and be chosen as the Queen’s favorite. To be chosen by the Queen means to live in the royal palace, serve the royal family and the court, and to be recognized as the best Belle of her generation. Camellia has dreamed of nothing else. But life at the palace is nothing liked she dreamed. The walls hide secrets, dangers, a sick princess, and the truths about the Belles and their powers. The Queen asks Camellia to do something dangerous for the sake of the people of Orléans, but the risks could be far greater than Camellia realizes.

Review: World building, magic, betrayal, and royal life, Dhonielle Clayton has masterfully blended these together in this book, and has sprinkled some delicious sounding foods and pastries into it as well, hence a pic with some pastries of my own (though I did not make the donut). While the beginning was slow, it was a gradual introduction to the world of Orléans. The beauty of the world building, the display of Camellia and her sisters’ gifts, the vivid descriptions of the people and their clothes, brought this story to life. The ending was heart pounding and had me on the edge of my seat. The camaraderie that Camellia and her sisters have is heartwarming while some of the characters at court are vicious and got me angry. I won’t say who, but one of the characters gave me sever Princess Azula vibes, and she was truly terrifying. Dhonielle Clayton not only crafted a great story but used the important lesson that beauty standards are dangerous as a backdrop for it. With the way this book ended, I will need to read book soon!

Read: 2/8/2021 – 2/19/2021
Release date: February 6th, 2018; FreeForm Books
Page count: 440
Rating: ★★★★
Genre: Fantasy, Black Girl Magic
Audience: Young Adult

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