The Belles by Dhonielle ClaytonThe Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles

byDhonielle Clayton

Hardcover | February 6, 2018

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The Belles 1 series

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about

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 is the coauthor of the Tiny Pretty Things series. She grew up in the Washington, DC, suburbs on the Maryland side and spent most of her time under her grandmother's table with a stack of books. A former teacher and middle school librarian, Dhonielle is cofounder of CAKE Literary, a creative development company whippin...
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Title:The BellesFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:448 pages, 8.62 × 5.88 × 1.5 inShipping dimensions:8.62 × 5.88 × 1.5 inPublished:February 6, 2018Publisher:FreeformLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1484728491

ISBN - 13:9781484728499

Appropriate for ages: 14

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Belles sont belle - Looks like: flower goddess - Sounds like: whispers behind unfolded fans - Tastes like: lemon meringue - Smells like: perfumes and magic - Feels like: tea parties with razor-sharp edge Side note: the audiobook is also really good
Date published: 2018-08-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An interesting read This really wasn't what I expected but I still enjoyed a lot. There was something lacking which I can't quite put my finger on.
Date published: 2018-07-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Rule-Defying Masterpiece The Belles is a BEAUTIFUL, rule-bending book that will leave you gasping for more, all while being astounded by Clayton’s writing and the powerful message this book holds. If you didn’t already know, I have been waiting to read this book for FOREVER! This WONDERFUL and rule-defying book was first announced in 2016 and so I’ve been waiting over a year and a half to get my book dragon claws into it. I stared reading it the DAY after I got a proof copy from Hachette India (which was six days ago?) I finished it just a few hours ago and I’m in shock and awe. Dhonielle Clayton managed to capture such an important message in an absolutely brilliant book and I cannot WAIT to see where the next book in the series takes me. Let’s break it down: 1. The world was INSANE. Set in the Kingdom of New Orleans, where all people except The Belles are born with grey skin, straw hair and blood red eyes, this book captures, at it’s very essence, everybody’s need to be beautiful. Belles can change the inward manner and outward appearance of anybody using their Arcana, for a prince of course, and you’re truly shown the lengths people will go to get to what they want to look like. 2. This book begins when a new generation of Belles presents themselves to court, their relationship with each other and their gifts and most of all, the insanity and politics surrounding beauty. 3. I REALLY liked a lot of the characters in the book, and I wished we saw more of others, but for some reason, I didn’t fall in love. I expected to be blown away like I was with Tiny Pretty Things, the last Dhonielle Clayton book I read, but that final element was just missing. 4. I guess that (^) has something to do with THE SHEER AMOUNT OF QUESTIONS I HAD including: A) What is the birth process of a Belle like? WHAT DOES COMING FROM ROSES MEAN? B) How does the Arcana and “cutting and shaping with a knife” and “inserting metal rods” really work when a Belle is altering someone’s appearance? It was all so vague and I was left a little clueless. Also, C) HOW LONG IS A BELLE IN COURT FOR? When does the next generation come? HOW IN THE WORLD DO POST-BALLOONS WORK? What are tea-cup animals? 5. While I did have a lot of questions, I also loved a lot of the characters. I ADORED Remy, especially with his gruff exterior and his heart of gold. He was a softball with his three sisters and I absolutely LOVED him. I also cannot WAIT to see more of him in the next book. 6. I did like all of The Belles, but honestly, I’m so excited for the inevitable character growth that they’ll go through in the next book as they learn to deal with the fact that everything they’ve ever known is gone. They were sort of… plain characters and I didn’t really love or hate any of them. 7. Surprisingly, I LOVED Dhonielle Clayton’s portrayal or Princess Sophia. It was intense, ingenious writing and really showed you the internal madness most woman go through (not to that extent, though) to be the “most beautiful.” Honestly, you guys, THE HYPE IS REAL. This book will not be what you’re expecting it to be, nor is it like anything you’ve ever read before. It is a masterpiece, in every sense of the word, and I can’t wait to see where Clayton takes us in the sequel! 4 stars.
Date published: 2018-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Stunning New YA Fantasy *I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review* There aren’t enough words to describe the beauty of this book. I felt like I was floating on a cloud while reading it because the writing was so intricate and detailed. First, don’t let the cover of this book fool you. It may look gorgeous on the outside, but the plot is fierce and gets surprisingly dark. This book had writing that was so visually stimulating that I literally wanted to devour the words. The constant mentions of sweets in general were enough to push me over the edge! It was all just so vividly imagined. This book started up kind of set up like a fairytale. Each of the Belles had the same dream: to become the favourite. They were paraded in front of the royalty to display their talents and then it was decided where each of the girls would go. Camellia discovers that not everything is perfect and that there are cracks in the very foundation of the kingdom. I have to say, the synopsis was misleading in a very satisfying way. There were some terrifyingly brilliant surprises in the plot. Clayton poses the question of what we would do if we lived in a world defined by beauty and perfection. It’s a very thought-provoking narrative that raises so many existential questions. In this book beauty is also only temporary, and having access to it means you need a high social standing as well as money. The temporality of beauty is interesting because it shows the divide between the people of the kingdom. There is just this hunger for beauty that is almost uncanny. One thing I feel needs to be addressed is that this book should come with a content warning because there are possible triggers for people sensitive to sexual assault. But I guess what makes this book so important is that all of these different conversations about race, body image, mental health, deformity, and sexual assault are being opened up for discussion. That’s what makes this book so powerful because the author was not afraid to openly discuss controversial topics. If you loved The Selection and The Jewel, then you will definitely love this book! I can’t wait to revisit this world in the sequels because I feel like there is so much to be explored and The Belles just scratched the surface. I’m definitely going to have a major book hangover because I have SO many questions. One thing I definitely want to see explored in the sequel is more background on the Gris. But if you love a YA fantasy filled with magic, betrayal, love, friendship, secrets, and shocking twists, you definitely don’t want to miss this stunning book!
Date published: 2018-02-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not For Me I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This falls into the category of books that I had a feeling about, but got caught up in the hype and figured I must have been wrong. Usually books that focus on appearances and beauty are not my cup of tea. But then I wished for this on NetGalley and somehow ended up with it, and figured that it would be fine. And when it comes down to it, I can totally see what people are into this book, and why it's getting the rave reviews that it is. It's got some great diversity and some fantastic things going on throughout the story, and it has the makings of a great book for sure. It's just my taste that causes me to lower my rating, because I did struggle to get through it, and it irritated me at times. I really could not care less when it comes to fashion, beauty, styles, and that's the focus of this entire book, so for me, it felt vain and vapid. I kept wanting the characters to think of something other than appearance, but it never came. All that matter was if you looked beautiful, which was fun in the beginning but got boring rather quick. But let's get into some details, shall we? The Good Points of The Belles: World building is absolutely amazing. The descriptions of the world and the places and the things that Camellia sees is fantastic. Clayton has got the whole world building thing down. The diversity is well done. You get a little bit of every skin colour, personality, sexuality, body shape and size, and everything in between, which was really great to see in a book. (There has been some discussion of treatment of homosexual characters in this book, but I think that particular plot point qualifies as a spoiler, so you can look at up, if you want to.) Despite the fact that she could be irritating at times, I loved Camellia as a main character. She was beautifully naive - which we don't see a lot in YA fantasy - but still intelligent and headstrong. Her love for her sisters was absolutely amazing, and even in the moments where she got on my nerves, I was rooting for her to succeed. There is some beautifully done betrayal in this book. I'm sure there's more to it than we see in this book, but holy cow, that was good.  The Downsides of The Belles: Despite the amazing world building, the magic system isn't explained at all. Perhaps this is on purpose, and it's something that will come up in later books, but it just made this one kind of confusing. I still don't quite get how the three arcanas work, or how they're replenished, or what the deal is there, and I think I would liked it more if I'd known how it all worked. Everything was so surface level and vapid and vain. Everything in this book revolves around looks and appearance and how you want to change your appearance. Which is cool, but for me, got old really quick. I wanted the characters to think for themselves and see something deeper than appearance, but it just didn't happen. I found the first 60% or so of this book to be very slow and draggy. We learned a lot about the world in this time, but it seemed like nothing was happening. And then, once you get to the last 40% or so, it picks up like crazy, which was nice, but it made for a strange reading experience. Aside from that one betrayal bit I mentioned before, this book was painfully predictable. You knew exactly what was going to happen as soon as things were coming up as issues. Which is fine, but I would have liked a bit more surprise myself. With the point we're at with dystopian YA books, I don't think this book brings much new to the table. If you're super into beauty stuff, maybe you'll disagree with me on this point, because that's so not my forté. But there was nothing about this book other than the beauty stuff that we haven't seen before, which was a little disappointing. All in all, I totally see why The Belles gets the hype that it does, but it's not the book for me. If you are really into fashion, traditional dystopian themes, and great sister relationships, you should definitely give this one a go, though. 
Date published: 2018-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sweet on top but dark underneath On the surface it seems like this is going to be a superficial, light read but it’s actually much darker and fairly terrifying. It’s like pink unicorn whipped cream covering a bloody knife. This story definitely has bite! While much of it is fashion and fun there's an ever present undercurrent of danger and some of the situations are absolutely horrific. This is one of those books where the villains are so odious that you can’t wait to see them defeated. The story started a bit slow but became super exciting near the end and I couldn't put it down. It begins to delve into the concept of the value of beauty and the obsession with appearing perfect. I suspect this will become more of a focus as the series continues. I really want to know why most people are grey and colourless and if everyone is grey, can't they just accept this and live happily as a society of all grey people? Why do they all want to be something they are not and endure so much pain and expense in the pursuit of what is considered beauty? It's like a reflection of our society taken to the extreme. Orleans is frivolous and ornate and so is the language used to describe it. There is almost an overload of description of every single thing and sometimes the level of detail made it difficult to envision. I felt my imagination was a bit curtailed because everything was so intricately described. At some point I stopped even trying to picture all the dresses and the setting because it was just too much. My brain was exhausted! This wasn't a deal breaker for my enjoyment by any means but I can see some readers being turned off by this. Camellia was a mostly likeable character who didn't always follow the rules. I appreciated her rebelliousness and her love for her sisters. Although she was a bit spoiled, especially at the beginning, she was compassionate and clever. I'm looking forward to see where the Belles go from here! Thank you to Disney Book Group/Freeform for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
Date published: 2018-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully lush story Lush writing, exquisite detail, a fantastical setting and a gripping story make The Belles a standout YA fantasy. Camille's character has a strong attention to detail in accordance with her beauty work as a Belle, and her descriptions of Orleans will make you want to rush off to bakery and a fashion boutique, possibly at the same time (powdered skin like an overly frosted piece of caramel cake, buttercup yellow day dress, etc.). The physical pain and monetary cost of the Belle's beauty work are symbolic of the extreme methods people today use to try and conform to unrealistic beauty standards. I appreciated how Camille sees her work as helping people love themselves, rather than as a money-making opportunity like others in her industry. Despite being at the heart of the Orleans beauty industry, she believes that people's natural and inner beauty are more important than being supermodel gorgeous. The setting of Orleans is whimsical, playful, and full of delightful details like teacup animals, all of which combine to make The Belles compulsively readable.
Date published: 2017-11-20

Editorial Reviews

"The fast clip of the pace and the increasing suspense makes the hefty page count well worth it."-BCCB