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Publisher's Summary

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control beauty, and beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, 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 Orleans 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 Orleans 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.

©2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc. (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Beautiful! A book that all young girls should read

I'm so proud of this book. It hits some points that aren't always popular with our youth and frankly most adults. I found it thought-provoking and ultimately disturbing in what you realize about our society. It made me think of how we may inadvertently say or do things as parents that could make our children believe that their appearance is more important than it should be.

As for the story itself, it focuses around a group of young girls (Belles) who are charged with making the citizens beautiful. An entire people who HATE the way they look and put beauty above all else. Beauty is more important to be beautiful than rich.

The story is a slow drama with no real action scenes but is still able to keep you on the edge of your seat. From the beginning you are made aware that something is off with their situstion. The excitement comes from seeing how far rabbit hole goes. The author has a straight forward writing style. I didn't particularly like the ending as it cuts off in a wierd part of the story.

I will admit I was quite intrigued after seeing the cover. There aren't many people of color used as lead characters in the Fantasy Genre. Then after learning this novel was associated with Disney, I thought it might be all lollipops and rainbows. Instead the author has written a story that challenges what some might the standard of beauty and the emphasis we put into our outter appeareance.


19 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

surprisingly cliche, couldn't get through it

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

No, I couldn't even get through it. I got about half way and had to give up.

At first I was very charmed by how 'pretty' the book felt, how it set the tone. But then it turned out to be just filler.

I pre-ordered it for Kindle and then used a precious Audible credit on the audiobook. You might be thinking "but there are so many good reviews for this"! Let me tell you a secret about Audible: you can "return" books you find awful and get a refund. But after you do that the site prevents you from leaving a review. I learned that the hard way. This really inflates the reviews on Audible.

So I'm carefully leaving this review before I try to return this book.

The main character, Camille, behaves nonsensically whenever possible. I would say she's unlikable but the things she does are so bizarre that she's not even a character to me, she's just a vehicle the author drives around. She does dangerous things when no one would just so that she can meet X character or see Y event. Camille needs every bit of information spoon fed to her. And while she'll think endlessly about some unimportant thing, she'll have completely forgotten the really important, scary information she does manage to get through her thick skull. We hear about other characters, particularly white and/or male characters, all doing more interesting things or just BEING more interesting and brave. how is that possible with a sensitivity reader as the author?!

Why is Edel, the white, not-main-character so much more interesting?! What am I supposed to do with that?! Two white girls do all the brave stuff!

Again, bewildering for a sensitivity reader but perhaps sometimes we're blind to the problems in our own work. If you had told me this was written by a well-meaning but ignorant white woman, I would have believed you.

Most of the book is filler. It's padded with repetitive descriptions of things we already know about, over-explanations, like when you're in school and trying to meet a word count. It got to the point where I became enraged every time she mentioned the mail balloons. But then I never felt like certain things were nailed down, like "Wait is the whole planet like this? Or just this country? Are there more countries?" Stuff that's important to know and structurally should have been expressed more clearly than telling me about the balloons over and over.

Would you ever listen to anything by Dhonielle Clayton again?

I don't know, this was ROUGH on me. I really, REALLY wanted to like this because so many people were harassing the poor woman.

I was so disappointed. The author is a sensitivity reader so I expected diversity, real diversity and while there's plenty of black and white people represented (yay!) the Asian characters are very uncomfortable to read. I cannot believe a sensitivity reader wrote such cliche, stereotypical Asian characters. It's very hard to explain why it felt weird. The book presents itself as being body positive but it really, really isn't. Anyone that's coded as fat is portrayed as stupid or awful or both. And "fat" is being generous, it's more like "curvy" which means "big boobs, big butt, not actually fat". And everything in the book is like that, just "skin deep" I know, wouldn't it be amazing if it was intentional?). But the diversity is shallow, the body and beauty ideas are shallow, the feminism is shallow.

So shallow that I would even go so far to say that it feels market-y. As if she very much wants branded products derived from the book's universe (like the Harry Potter jelly beans, that kind of thing).

Which scene was your favorite?

Probably the opening "debut" scene where she's in the carriage.

Did The Belles inspire you to do anything?

To stop reading it.

Any additional comments?

The narrator is AMAZING. Really amazing, I'll be looking out for her going forward. I don't know how she does what she does.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

DNF on chapter 25 about halfway through

I don’t normally review a book if I don’t finish, but in the name of helping other people not waste their time, I will. The book is 13 hours and I stopped about 6 hours in.

I heard Clayton on the Kirkus Review podcast. The author herself and what she said she was trying to do with the story was of interest to me. Apparently she failed on those fronts according to some. Go to Goodreads if you want to read all about the controversy. I won’t weigh in on that.

Here’s my main beef: It was like listening to someone expound for 6 hours on how she makes herself and others beautiful. Of course the belles are magical (or something) and can do just about anything to a person to physically change a person’s looks—give them different color skin and hair, reshape a nose, give them a small waist. And then there’s the Belle line of fantabulous makeup and all the gorgeous clothing that can be had in this world. But that’s about all there was—endless descriptions of it.

There was no plot, no action. Maybe that comes after the halfway point? If it does, I’d say that’s a little too late.

When I started listening, I noted the beautiful, descriptive writing but I also noted that despite the description, I was having trouble picturing this strange world. Not usually one of my problems. And I had no idea what was going on in this world other than people trying to be beautiful. Seriously, there’s nothing else but lots of yummy food and parties.

The other thing that kept nagging at me (maybe I just missed it) is that there are 6 “official” belles. Somehow these 6 keep an entire country beautiful. The numbers just don’t add up. Apparently something shady is going on with UNofficial belles, but I can’t slog through any more of this book.

Main character: boring. All characters: boring. Because all they think, talk, and care about is beauty.

Audio narrator: quite good.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

okish book aimed at young audience who like fasion

OK I will start with the negative.

the book was too long with too little happening, especially the first half of the book, it feels like the first 12 or so chapters could of been condensed into 6 or even less. Too much description at places and uneventful moments, some parts felt stretched. The " reveals " or some of the mysteries were obvious as day.


The world building was OK, it was interesting enough but felt there were some gaps to make it fully believable, the whole concept of "fashion" and beauty being the main purpose of the book did not sit with me well.

As for what I liked was the writing and flow of the story. I connected with the main character especially with the end, although did not like her that much. The book did pick up at the middle and even more so towards the end... but to get there you'll have to go through the tretorous beginning.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Lush & Horrific

The narrator is exceptional, first of all, and the story propelled forward! Gorgeous descriptions and worldbuilding. Interesting commentary on beauty. Would recommend!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Darker than you'd think!

The narrator is great. Slow going at first and I wasn't sure if I would like it. So much happens at the end. Another series for sure but you know what... I'll download the second one I'm sure. Unfortunately I imagine I'll have to wait quite a while to find out what happens next.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Wasn't expecting a series BUT

Had the privilege of meeting Dhonielle Clayton. School librarian organized an author visit. She led a discussion on concepts of beauty with my students who were very enhanced.

Listened to this story with my kids on our commutes. We loved it and Rosie Jones does an amazing job with the characters. Looking forward to the next one.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ann A
  • Valencia, PA, US
  • 04-29-18

A Different Kind of Magic

what is Arcana? intriguing story of hybrids able to enhance or alter considerably the appearances of clients. The Capital residents who enjoy elite status and the dark side of how they regard the non-privileged classes.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved this book☺😍

Though provoking , twist and turns great questions. what is beauty and why can't we love ourselves? why don't we believe others when they find beauty in who we are before the adornments. Why do we trust so easily and tells secrets to ppl who haven't earned our trust? read the book start a book club engage young readers even your children.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Good at the end

The book had a very slow start. I almost stopped listening to it. Sadly it only gets good towards the end.