I have just finished reading The Belles, first words that came to mind for me was: scary villains, intriguing, fast-paced plot and imaginative. For a young adult book, it explores the heavy themes of body commodification and cosmetic surgery. Camillia is a Belle with a special place in a dystopian world because she has powers to make others look beautiful. In her role, she must navigate through many ethical choices and figure out how to work in a world where beauty is an expectation, love is forbidden and magic is coveted. This book also has some horrifying villains; the story touches on themes of bullying, envy, and narcissism. Overall, I loved the world-building, character development, and plot twists. I also love the beautiful cover featuring POC main character. I think the writer is very imaginative in how she wrote about the world, making it both glamorous and terrifying. This is such a unique book with great themes. The story kept me on the edge of my seat and I can’t wait for the next book. Recommend this for fantasy readers.
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.