The Belles

The Belles

Book - 2018
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"In a world where Beauty is a commodity only a few control, one Belle will learn the dark secrets behind her powers, and rise up to change the world"-- Provided by publisher.
In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. Camellia Beauregard wants to be 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 she soon finds that behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets. When the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia faces an impossible decision.
Publisher: Los Angeles : Freeform Books, 2018.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781484728499
Branch Call Number: FIC/CLAYTON
Characteristics: 434 pages ; 22 cm.


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AlishaH_KCMO Jul 10, 2020

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

The Belles is set in a fantasy alternative New Orleans where people are born grey, except The Belles, who can make and transform citizens into beautiful beings using their gift of arcana. Camellia Beauregard has trained her whole life to be the Perfect, the Belle that works in the Royal Court and helps makes the "Beauty Laws" of the kingdom. As soon as her and her sisters join the Court, they quickly learn it's everything they've ever learned is a lie. Camellia is also asked by the Queen to risk her own life to help spare that of her eldest daughter's by using her arcana in an unconventional way. Camellia must decide where she wants to stand: save herself and her sisters, or risk it all to save the kingdom and her world forever.

The writing style of The Belles was one of my favorite parts. There were many descriptions of things where they were compared to food or candies. As much as that possibly sounds strange, Dhonielle Clayton does a decent job at it.

"The sky and its clouds are made of melting cherries and flaming oranges and burnt grapefruit as the sun sinks into the sea...My powdered skin makes me look like an overly frosted piece of caramel cake"

Though, with that comparison, there's also issues. Food was used a lot to describe skin color and had the potential to be racist. I know that's the world building and because the characters do eat a lot of extraordinarily sweet treats often, I can see how that's an 'easy comparison' for them to do.

I really enjoyed the cast of characters: Camellia, Remy, Bree, and Edel. I liked Amber as well, but sometimes I felt like Camellia would portray her one way and then she'd do something that seemed like it would be out of character for her. She wasn't the main character so we really weren't able to see what she was thinking throughout so she made me curious. I was also so intrigued with Princess Sophia and her development throughout the book. The villains in this story are scary, dark, and cruel! They had me wanting other characters to just get as far away from them as they possibly could before something happened.

Overall this is entertaining for a YA fantasy novel. It will keep the pages turning as you read. I had already asked for the next book from my library halfway through reading the first. I'm pretty excited to continue reading this series.

sarahbru17 Feb 11, 2020

Characters: 7/10
Plot: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
This is definitely a high concept novel, and the unique setting/magic system was what pulled me through the pages. The intrigue kept me turning pages, though I'm not sure I got all the answers and resolutions I was looking for. This kept me going on to the sequel--but, unfortunately, the sequel didn't really give me what I wanted either.

Aug 15, 2019

The concept was good; however, it was a very very slow build and the twists were mostly predictable.

I read this for my book club and ran out of time so went there having read about two thirds of it. My impression at that point: "I feel like something should be happening soon". Yes, the others confirmed (and I read for myself the next day), something does eventually happen - but that first two thirds seriously needs editing down; too much repetition.

So, the basic story is that the characters live in a world where everyone is ugly/grey by default and requires magical plastic surgery to make them beautiful. This costs money (and is painful). The Belles are the ones with the ability to do it. Belle is used as an adjective way too much - there's Belle tea and Belle buns and Belle everything else. I bet there's a Belle toilet somewhere!

There is, of course, an evil woman who wants to be more beautiful than everyone else. And a magic mirror. And an ending that isn't particularly satisfactory - likely because it's setting up for a sequel.

The core ideas are interesting enough that I may eventually read the sequel. Maybe.

Jun 22, 2019

Overall, this was a good read. The author introduced a world that was realistic and detailed. However, there were some plot twists that didn't make the most sense, and there were some transitions that didn't seem very smooth. I would still recommend this book, since it presents a creative story based on the fears and worries of our society.

Apr 27, 2019

A cool concept, but too complicated of a world. I also found the plot very slow going and not original and the characters weren't very well done. I wanted to like this book, but it all just culminated into a read that just seemed to drag on forever.

IndyPL_ShannonO Mar 29, 2019

Dhonielle Clayton pairs fantastic world building with a fast-paced and gripping plot to craft a story that you won't be able to put down! Of all the YA I read last year, this was one of the few I found myself able to finish. And the minute I did I found myself impatient for the sequel. Definitely give this one a try!

CedarMill_SabrinaH Nov 30, 2018

I loved this sugary, compulsively readable book, and Rosey Jones does excellent narration for the audiobook. Beneath the syrupy imagery there's also a lot to chew on about body politics, but the book does depict violence against LGBTQ+ characters, which may make it a pass for some readers.

Sep 23, 2018

For someone choosing whether to try and stop an evil tyrant from taking power and possibly die in the process, or stand by while an evil tyrant takes power and probably die in the process, Camellia is remarkably indecisive. She probably takes an hour to choose between waffles and pancakes. There’s not much to her relationship with her love interest other than curiosity and lust. Which is fine- get it, girl! But I didn’t buy the book’s suggestions of something deeper. The Belles does better with sibling relationships: Camellia and Amber's thorny mixture of affection and rivalry felt realistic, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops in the next book. The slow reveal of Orleans' secrets was genuinely creepy, making me wish for a deeper plunge into horror. If the sequel takes that route, its villain is more than up for the challenge: awful in the best possible way, she reads like a cross between Cheryl Blossom and Elizabeth Bathory. The one horror element in this book that upset me was the fate of its queer women- I still have hopes for some of them, but I'm not holding my breath.

Jul 24, 2018

I just finished the book, The Belles, and was left awestruck! The book finished with a huge cliffhanger! I was so disappointed (in a good way though) that the book finished. I am looking forward to reading the second one. The author told a story with richness and reality. After reading the book, you will ask yourself questions. The one question that keeps eating my mind away is that. how far are people willing to go for beauty? And acceptance into today's society? This book awoke so many curious questions in my head, that I felt as I couldn't read anything else until a sequel came out! In the book, there is one quote that might define the near future/present day situation; "I'd do anything to be beautiful." There may be a limit for beauty, but people are willing to go farther. This book just enhances the mind and world that we live in now. The author, Dhonielle Clayton, is an amazing writer and I hope to read the next book in as much excitement as I read this one! And if it's possible, I would rate this book as a 10/5!
@EMBookWorm14 of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

What started off as a book with purple prose, too-flowery descriptions and unlikeable characters ended up grabbing my attention with its fascinating concepts. Camellia is a new generation Belle, trained to give beauty to the humans, who in this era are all born with red eyes and grey skin. Alongside her sisters, she learns the art of beauty and prepares for the selection day, where she hopes to be picked as the royal favourite. But when she enters the web of royalty, she realizes that there is more behind the glittering curtains than she thought. The saving grace in this book was the antagonist, Princess Sophia; her villianary stole the show and had my heart racing whenever she entered a room. Otherwise, I found the book to be lackluster and unnecessary elements (such as excessive descriptions and “try-hard” word building, as well as instalove romance) lowered my rating of the book. Rating 2.5/5 @jewelreader of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Jul 13, 2018

I almost never get so fed up with a book, approved and published by a publishing house, as I did this one. I couldn't take it any longer by page 60. The book is big for an instalment in a series, and I found out why. Pathetic dialogue litters the pages; the author doesn't seem to understand the value of dialogue in characterisation or plot advancement -- the dialogue on the pages I read (and not one page more) is void of any value apart from fattening up the author's manuscript. The writing is pompous and that of a recalcitrant moron: "... nervous excitement" "...exact same [blah]". The writing drags on and I simply did not see the value of wasting another breath with a text of a glitzy premise and masterful PR efforts but which is of an infuriatingly inferior quality.

The garish and tacky cover design seems to portend a movie that is probably either in the making or going to be so. If a movie was indeed to come out of it, it would be one of the instances in which the movie would outshine the book, and it would not be a feat in this case.

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Apr 23, 2018

violet_penguin_924 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

LoganLib_Kirra Feb 27, 2018

LoganLib_Kirra thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Aug 26, 2020

Camellia and her sisters are belles. Their job is to make the people of Orleans beautiful again. The belles start by competing to be the favorite and stay with royalty. Camellia has always wanted to be chosen, therefore she disobeys orders. When she finds out Princess Sophia is a lunatic. Camila gets asked to do something that could save the world and risk her health. What could she do?


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LoganLib_Kirra Feb 27, 2018

“Be the best without trying to be better than the others.”


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