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 is a story that I think most can relate to on some level. We all feel the injustice of how much weight our world puts on beauty and yet we’re all guilty of it at some level. We like pretty things and we like pretty people. If you could do anything to your body, where would you draw the line? And what would be the personal cost?
The Belles digs deep into those ugly human traits of ego, vanity, and greed in a page turning novel that I just couldn’t put down. I know, I know “a page turning novel” is such a cliché way to describe a book, but it’s true! Camellia, the main character, is a naïve sweet girl, which after being sheltered all her life, is thrown out into the real world. The real world is one where hideous monsters have complete control. It was fascinating to see how Camellia learned to navigate in a world that she didn’t understand.
The author has clearly developed a detailed image of this entire world in her head. The characters were so wonderfully developed and the background of the plot so intricate. My only criticism of the book is that some of the smaller things are thrown at you without any backstory or explanation. When I read its like I’m watching a movie and when I have to pause to work something out it pulls me out of the story. But they were big.
I can’t wait for the next one not just to see what happened next but to find out what’s going on!