The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Inside cover blurb:

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.”

-from publisher


The Belles was kind of a let down.

The premise sounds totally amazing- a  dystopian setting where the girls competing for the crown’s favor have the power to manipulate beauty.

I loved the idea of the opulent court setting, but it went a little far for my taste, with miniature exotic animals and tiny balloons that deliver news and gossip…

I felt like the whole book was overselling itself. Everything was so grand and luxurious, but it never actually delivered on anything. I was left disappointed at the end of it all.

Camellia was a boring and rather unperceptive main character. She stuck around way longer than anyone with sense would have, although somehow her best friend managed to be even more dense. I just wasn’t very invested in what was happening to her.

I honestly thought the evil princess girl was more interesting.

Having read the author’s note, I can appreciate the reason why the book was written. But The Belles just didn’t click with me.

Plus: There’s a worthwhile message here about the dangers of worshiping beauty and appearance above all else.

Minus: While the message is deep, the story feels shallow.

If you like this book, try:


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld- The pinnacle of dystopian novels about physical appearance. Basically a modern classic in my book.

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