Title: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Page Count: 448
My rating: 3 stars
About the book:
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, 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 Orleans 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 Orleans 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. Dhonielle Clayton creates a rich, detailed, decadent world of excess and privilege, where beauty is not only skin-deep, but a complete mirage. Weaving deeper questions about the commodification of women’s bodies, gender equality, racial identity, and vanity with high-stakes action and incredible imagery, The Belles is the must-read epic of the season.
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton is the first book of the young adult fantasy series by the same name. This series is one that will make readers think on the obsession with beauty in today’s society.
Camellia Beauregard is a young girl who was born into being a Belle, one that holds magic and can control beauty. In Camellia’s world, Orleans, people are born grey and without the beauty they seek and it’s up to Belles like Camellia to cater to the needs of the citizens.
Camellia and her fellow Belle sisters have been competing to find which of them will become the favorite Belle and thus earning the right to serve the royals. Once in position as a Belle however Camellia finds that her powers and the Beauty she serves are not what she’s thought them to be.
The Belles certainly had some very interesting ideas going for it but for me the pacing on this one just seemed way way off. The book began extremely slowly and ended at a furious pace, not that I minded the pick up at the end but I would have liked more balance and interest in the beginning. And while it seemed to be a ton of world building I still found myself with questions that were either pushed to the end or left unsaid so for me this was just a so-so beginning to the series.
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About the author:
Dhonielle Clayton spent most of her childhood under her grandmother’s table with a stack of books. She hails from the Washington, D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side. She earned an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University and an MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. She taught secondary school for several years. Now, she is a librarian at Harlem Village Academies, is one of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks librarians, and co-founder of CAKE Literary, a creative kitchen whipping up decadent — and decidedly diverse — literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction readers. Find her on the web at http://www.cakeliterary.com and http://www.dhonielleclayton.com. Also, twitter: @brownbookworm, and instagram: @brownbookworm, and pinterest. Basically, she lurks on all social media platforms.