The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“The Belles” by Dhonielle Clayton revolves around a fantasy world built on beauty with a species of women responsible in making the entire kingdom beautiful as looks fade into greatness and they inject the color. Though a unique way to take on society’s obsession with what constitutes as beauty, this typical fantasy YA novel designed for a series has so much great descriptions that they may have slowed the story down.
Camellia is a Belle in the kingdom of Orleans, which means she has the power, her arcana, to bring color and vitality into people’s appearances since they lose both after some time. Like their hair dries out and their complexion drains out of color or even their heights can shrivel. Through beauty appointments mostly the rich can afford, Camellia works her magic to restore the look desired by the individual. For now, she and the other five Belles she calls her sisters, have this great duty as they are scattered to different posts on the main island. Camellia becomes the kingdom’s favorite where she works in the palace with Princess Sophia, the sole heir as her mother, the queen, ails and her sister is still in a yearslong coma. While Camellia hears disturbing news from previous Belles and her sisters about what’s happening in the kingdom and in the palace, she realizes the princess is evil and is trying to reproduce her own Belle power, which could destroy the kingdom.
The story doesn’t get exciting until page 300 or so. I started this book months ago and had the hardest time picking it back up and finishing. The only reason I did finish because I felt like it would pick up. There’s so much description about colors a Crayola lover like myself appreciated, but the story may have suffered because of it. As in the story fails to move forward as the reader has to hear more about how colorful and wonderful the kingdom is or welcome another character that might not add much later on.
It’s also written from Camellia’s point of view, but the writing is too rigid to really get a sense of who she is, so it sounds more like third person. The wrong voice hurts this story with the also rigid dialogue.
Overall, I enjoyed the last half or maybe quarter of the book but most likely will skip the rest of the series unless it loses pages for a shorter and tighter read.
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