Photo from @beautifulbookland on Instagram
Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️
This book has me all sorts of conflicted because it’s good, it is, but I’m a bit…underwhelmed. I sort of hyped this up in my mind and then when I started it I was just kind of waiting. Waiting to fall in love with the characters, waiting to be gripped by the plot, waiting to not be so confused over the Belles’ abilities.
Camellia and her sisters are Belles; they have arcana in their blood, which allows them to make the grey people of Orléans bright and beautiful. On their sixteenth birthday they are split up and sent to work at various stations throughout the isles, depending on their skill levels.
Dhonielle’s descriptions in this book are so bright and lavish and beautiful. The citizens of Orléans are obsessed with beauty and looking the best; their outlandish styles often reminded me of The Hunger Games.
The characters very much hide behind their beauty; beneath their high cheekbones and hair towers are monsters, striving to be the best and willing to do anything to get what they want or stay onside with the royal family. They view the Belles as pretty little objects, not as actual people. They have little care for the Belles’ health and well-being, pushing them hard and fast to achieve their desired results.
The Belles has such a unique and relevant concept, but sadly the characters and the pacing fell short for me. The second part of the book is definitely the stronger part; we get into the nitty gritty of court life, seeing the fangs and the claws of the courtiers and royals, and there was a part just before the end of the book that did have me gripped. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s a certain royal family member who I literally wanted to kick off a cliff, and they’re so repulsive and vile I couldn’t stop reading.
Apart from hatred (*cough* Sophia *cough*), the characters in this book didn’t really make me feel much. Camellia was average; I did like how ambitious she was, but I didn’t love her. Amber was irritating, especially considering that she was supposed to be Camellia’s best friend, and I would like to see her redeem herself a bit in the sequel.
I’m pleased I read this one; it was an interesting idea, and it had beautiful writing, but the characters needed a bit more for me to love them, and the pacing was a bit off. I just wish the whole book was like the last 100 pages or so.