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.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank Ruqs for recommending this book to me! I thought about reading back when hype was a thing but then bad reviews flooded in and I was just a little thrown-off. But then she made me read it and I’m so so so happy I did!
Dhonielle Clayton’s writing is so sugary sweet, I think you could possibly go into a sugar-coma from it????
Literally, her descriptions were a step above “lush”. I did like how they weren’t over-the-top most of the time, rather they painted pictures and really hammered in how glamorous this world is. For example, I absolutely love Stephanie Garber’s writing but I mean: “the color of lost wishes and fallen stardust”? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THESE COLORS. But Clayton’s prose was full of real colors and beautiful lines but seriously enough about the writing.
I can see how some people would think that the plot is super slow, but I was personally sucked in from the beginning! Clayton created this world where beauty is the focus, beauty is the be-all-end-all, and I can’t even describe how it impacted the story. It’s such an amazing example of how horrible society’s focus on being beautiful and accepted is. Every gruesome and immoral act is hidden and lined underneath layers of sugar and makeup, and our protagonist slowly uncovers that.
I do think that the plot doesn’t really do anything new. The twists and characters aren’t anything special, especially if you’re a YA veteran. However, I do think that the incredibly unique magic system, worlds, and just the set-up of everything made the story so much more distinct.
I LOVED how diverse the characters were! It was actually really interesting how, despite having every shade of skin-tone ever to exist, there was no form of racism. Someone who was milky white one day could be midnight the next, and both were considered equally beautiful. It was honestly the one thing I wish I could take and plant into real life!
Finally, I didn’t really feel the romance? I think a lot of decisions and twists would have been more impactful had I been more interested in the romance. I shipped Remy and Camellia the most!
I think that’s all of my thoughts! Tell me: have you heard of this book? Do you want to read it? What are some unique magic systems?