Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Publisher: Freeform Books
I had wanted to read this book for a long time, so I deliberately didn’t learn much about it. I do know that I loved the cover – beautiful and eye-catching. But as we all know, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!
The Belles is beautifully written, almost to the point where you can visually see the descriptions come off the page. Dhonielle Clayton doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Though personally, I did love this about the book. Clayton’s words and descriptions are scrumptious. Almost every page has a description exquisite to read.
Glass canisters hold colourful liquids. Golden pins poke out of a pink velvet cushion. Carts hold tiers of pastries frosted in rose-petal pinks and pearly whites and apple reds, flutes overflow with jewel-tone liquids and sugar-dusted strawberries and pomegranates sit in glass bowls. Vases spill over with flowers in a rainbow of colours.
Though, I love the decadent and gorgeous descriptions I am not sure they will be for everyone. I can imagine after awhile that they become tedious for many readers and readers will find themselves skimming over the rich descriptions to get on with the story.
The story revolves around a land called Orleans, where everybody is born ugly – skin is grey and eyes are red. This is the natural state of the citizens of Orleans. And this is where the Belles come into play. It is their role to transform the citizens of Orleans – to keep them beautiful.
Belles are kept in seclusion until their sixteenth birthday when they are delivered to Orleans in a grand ceremony.
Descendants of the Goddess of Beauty, blessed with the arcana to enhance the world and rescue the people of Orleans.
Of course, like everything that is sought after, beauty in Orleans comes at a price – changing one’s appearance is a painful process. The citizens of Orleans are obsessed and are willing to pay whatever price is needed to keep themselves beautiful and relevant.
Within the book, we have our flawed heroines and we have our villains. The villains in this story are cruel, twisted and dark and have an insatiable appetite to destroy and mock. The villains appear to have no redeeming features and tend to get darker and more ruthless as the book progresses.
I did find the book hard to get into and though I found the writing gorgeous, at times, though, it did hinder the story. The book does start to get its rhythm about a third of the way through and everything starts to fall into place and you understand where Clayton is going with the story.
The story ends on a cliffhanger and it does leave you wanting more, mainly since the book’s pace develops quite quickly at the end and you are taken on quite a ride.
I do worry that Clayton will alienate a lot of readers with her rather elaborate prose (mainly male readers). I find that most males will read a book with strong female characters, but I am not entirely sure that male readers will persevere with this story. I found the cover quite beautiful and it drew me in but will it alienate male readers? Clayton wrote this book after eavesdropping on a conversation that a group of males were having, so isn’t part of the point of this book to make men understand those unrealistic standards of beauty are destructive and dangerous? How can this be achieved if men do not read this story? I don’t like to stereotype men but working in an all boys school tells me that this book will be a hard sell to young male readers.