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.
“Beauty sent the Belles to be roses growing out of the dark and ravaged soil, destined to bring beauty back to the damned world, as the sun brings light.”
The world of Orleans is complex and quite frankly, beautiful. That is if you can afford to be beautiful. Beauty doesn’t come naturally in this world. Humans are born with gray skin, red eyes, and hair like straw. The only naturally beautiful people are the Belles. The Belles are not only born beautiful and unique, but they can control beauty. With the right price anyone can become beautiful.
This book is highly centered around appearances. The more extravagant and unique, the better. There are guidelines set by the Queen. Thank goodness for that! These people are obsessed with their looks. The Queen limited the size a waist can be, the size breasts can be, and etc. The Belles can basically manipulate any part of the body. I found this part of the book so fascinating. I am so happy I don’t live in this world though. Not only is beauty expensive, it’s also very painful. It’s crazy the lengths people will go to just to look the best.
The book centers around one Belle, Camellia Beauregard. I really enjoyed having Camellia as a main character. She is flawed, but she knows it. I love having a flawed main character who is aware of their flaws. She is also brave, caring, and intelligent. I’m excited to see what becomes of Camellia in the next book.
I really loved all the Belles and how each had their own personality and traits. I am sad that we didn’t get to see much of them besides at the very beginning of the book. I loved how the Belles interacted with one another and I’m really hoping to see more of the other Belles in the next book!
I did have some issues with the world-building. I thought the world that Dhonielle created was fantastic, but some things just weren’t explained and fleshed out enough for me. I still had questions at the end of the book. I’m hoping some of these questions will be answered in the sequel.
*A tad bit spoilery*
Now I must address the elephant in the room. There is some controversy going on with this book right now. I have to say that what others are saying is true. In this book there is a gay character that gets killed off. I am not going to name who for the sake of keeping this review as spoiler-free as possible. I can definitely see where the anger and hurt is coming from and it makes me really sad that this is the direction that Dhonielle went. The role that this death played could have easily been another character and it still would have the same effect.
*End little spoiler*
Overall, I really enjoyed this book except for the unnecessary killing. I had to lower my rating because of this. I am giving this book a 4 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Bookishfirst for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.