Ｒａｔｉｎｇ：★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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.
❝ Lies are as dangerous as a sword. They can cut to the bone. ❞
I’m not gonna lie, the very first thing that attracted me to this book was its stunning cover haha! Which is pretty ironic considering the fact that this book is all about beauty and the dangers that come with being too obsessed with it. This was one of my favorite reads of 2019, so I’m really excited to share my review!
The concept for this book was really what got me to read the book in the end. Basically, Belles, girls with the power to alter people’s appearance, talents, and nature serve in teahouses across the kingdom. The Favorite, the best of the Belles, is chosen by the queen to live and serve the castle. It is the highest honor, and our main character, Camelia, and her best friend, Amber, have their heart set on winning. But, the story does take a dark turn and their wish may not be exactly what they expected.
I really loved Camelia right away because of how ambitious, dedicated, and creative she was. I like that she had her goals but still felt doubt and could be supportive of her sisters. In a way, she had a very naive view of the world, and the more time she spent with the royals, the more she realized that beauty could be dangerous.
I don’t wanna say too much because the way things played out in the palace is so intense and, honestly, the best part of the book. Just know that this book may have seemed kind of light at first, but it gets dark fast and will have you waiting for the next disaster.
❝ “No one is a prisoner. Even you have the power to make your own choices.” ❞
Amber was another interesting character, particularly in terms of her relationship with Camelia. Obviously, Amber was every bit as ambitious as Camelia. There’s definitely a bit of a rivalry there, but it was Amber’s childishness and selfishness that really made her annoying. It was frustrating to see her being petty and whiny when she didn’t get her way. And things definitely got interesting after the Favorite was named (no spoilers!)
The other character I need to mention is Sophia because holy cow did things get crazy really fast. Her character was so intense, terrifying, and totally had me on the edge of my seat. I loved how she was written and all the ways that her obsession with beauty played out!
Honestly, the Belles is a fast-paced book that I think anyone looking for something new and different will enjoy. It has strong female characters, solid plot, great world-building, and the ending left me wanting more. Do yourself a favor and check it out!
What book started out slow and got dark fast that you enjoyed?