The Belles: “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.” (via Goodreads)
The Everlasting Rose: “Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia’s Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies-a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely-and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider’s Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans.” (via Goodreads)
In her author’s note at the back of The Belles, Clayton writes: “As uncomfortable as it might be, I hope this book pushes us to talk about the commodification of women’s body parts and the media messages we send young people about the value of their exterior selves, what is considered beautiful, and the forces causing those things to shift into disgusting shapes.” The series was born, she says, out of her own youthful obsession with beauty and her struggles coming to terms with the body she had and how that conflicted with the body the media told her she was supposed to have. If that isn’t the Belles series in a nutshell, I don’t know what is…
Read the rest of my review at Tor.com.
We all turned sixteen today, and for any normal girl that would mean raspberry and lemon macarons and tiny pastel blimps and pink champagne and card games. Maybe even a teacup elephant.
But not for us. Today is our debut. There are only six of us this year.
My fingertips leave fog teardrops on the paper-thin glass walls. The carriage is beautiful and clear and fashioned into a ball. I am a delicate doll poised inside a snow globe. An adoring audience surrounds my carriage, eager to see what I look like, and what I can do.
A net made of my signature pink owers stretches along the glass curves in order to tell everyone my name— Camellia—and to hide me until I’m revealed to the royal court.
Thanks to Freeform for sending me a review copy.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or get it from your public library.