Book Review: The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton

the belles
Image belongs to Disney Books.

In the world of Orléans, people are born damned. Gray. Above all, they want Beauty. It is only with the help of Belles, who control Beauty, can they be made beautiful.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. All her life, Camellia has wanted to be the favorite, the Belle chosen by the Queen to live in the palace and work with the royal family. The most talented Belle.

But at court, Camellia and her sisters learn there’s far more to this world of beauty than they ever imagined, and there’s more to their powers than they know. When the Queen asks Camellia to help the sick princess, Camellia must decide whether to help the Queen—and risk her whole world—or to continue to be the favorite Belle, the one who does everything that’s expected of her.

So, this book is more than a fairytale/fantasy epic. Orléans absolutely reminds me of the Capitol (from The Hunger Games), with over-the-top costumes and obsession with appearances and popularity. So much. But this book is really a commentary on issues we face in society today—and not just vanity—with layers and layers of reality and mystery twined together. On the surface, a book obsessed with beauty isn’t my cup of tea. But the world is richly-detailed, and the characters are complex and driven, and I can’t wait to see where the author takes them next.

Dhonielle Clayton is an author and the COO of We Need Diverse Books. Her newest novel is The Belles.

(Galley provided by Disney Books in exchange for an honest review.)

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