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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

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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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.


23 of 25 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.

12 of 14 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 16 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
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Captivating!

I loved this book! If you have a vivid imagination and like creating whole worlds in your head while reading, then this is a book for you! Taking place in a world of magic, everything is just too good and too beautiful to be true!
First it was a bit too dramatic for me, but then it got darker and darker and I got so into it. My only complaint is: it leaves too many questions unanswered when it ends, so I suppose there'll be a sequel? Which is a pity, cause it didn't mention so anywhere like Audible usually does, and I try to avoid book series. Now I just have to wait and see if there will be a next one and when?
Oh well..
The performance was incredible, in my opinion, w the highlight being the character of princess Sophia. It fit perfectly, made me love the character as much as I hate her too. Thank you!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

wonderful

this book is fantastic!! It's completely unlike anything else out right now!! I strongly recommend this to anyone and everyone!!

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

Few issues but a fun fantasy read regardless!

This was a fun fantasy novel. The world was interesting. I liked the characters but felt some need a bit more build up. I enjoyed this book enough to want to pick up the next in this series and see where it goes.

There were a lot of things, information wise, that i felt were missing from this one though. Some of those things will hopefully be addressed in book two. The other things were minor but drove me crazy. Example being, the belles all wear their hair in a "belle bun" but there is no description of this and at one point they are hanging a lantern from their belle bun. WHAT? I don't know about you guys but if I try to hang a lantern from a regular bun on my head...it's not going to work. But no explanation of that or several other things were given. I'm left to ponder this things that were created but not given an explanation. Yeah, I can make it up in my head but I want to know what the author had in mind!
The pacing of this book was also an issue for me. The beginning felt super slow and boring. Then at probably 3/4 of the way through it picked up so much speed it felt super rushed. Once again, it's probably just me being anal about these. As a debut novel and young adult book, I really really enjoyed this and look forward to seeing what else she comes up with.

The narrator, Rosie Jones, was amazing! I loved her performance. There were A LOT of characters in this book and she gave each one their own voice. I would 120% listen to more books narrated by her!

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

Great Writing, but Predictable...

This was a fun story, but it was very predictable. I enjoyed how dark it got and thought the portrayal of Orleans was delectable. However, all of the “twists” in the story were WAY too predictable.

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

Unexpectedly dark and captivating

On the surface, this book seems like it is going to be a cute vapid teenage girl fantasy. Once you get past the first hourish of the book, it takes a dark turn. I couldn't have been more captivated by this story, especially thanks to Rosie Jones' stellar performance. Her voice is mesmerizing, authentic, and dynamic. She does a fantastic job bringing Camille and all of the characters to life. I can't wait for the next one in the series.

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

Favorite 2018 YA

This book wasn't what I expected, but it was an absolute delight. It's a very interesting world with interesting creatures that thrive in an economy thrived by beauty. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil. If you're tired of YA love triangles and poor writing, pick this one up, it'll renew your faith in original YA.