The Belles (The Belles, #1) (2024)

Emily May

2,072 reviews313k followers

February 28, 2018

"Don't you want to be beautiful?"

Woah. The Belles is a monster hidden behind a pretty facade of dresses, magic, and beautiful writing. The world and story slowly build through stunning descriptions, as the author peels back the layers of society's obsession with beauty, revealing all the ugliness that lies underneath.

In the fictional world of Orléans, a small number of girls called Belles are able to use magic to create beautiful (or, indeed, ugly) looks to the paying customer's desire. Camellia and her sister Belles have been trained their whole lives for their job, and each longs to be chosen as Her Majesty’s favorite - the one responsible for keeping the royal family beautiful and satisfied.

"You are to act as if you're an artist floating through this world. Your sole purpose is to beautify, and transform the Gris. You are a Belle."

The descriptions are lavish, an effective juxtaposition with the darker plot lines that unfold. The ugliness in this beautiful world creeps out slowly, though I still found the earlier chapters compelling. Clayton's world was unique enough, and the characters interesting enough, to keep me enchanted until it was time to learn what was lurking under the surface, but it is the last hundred pages where the book really shines. In a horrific way.

Questions gradually arise about the origin of the Belles and their magic. Loyalties are also questioned. Camellia and the other Belles hear voices crying out in the night; voices of people who shouldn't be there. And there is a deliciously despicable villain whose desire for beauty, it seems, cannot be sated, and who made my blood pressure rise and my heart pound. Nothing like a nice bit of nastiness to keep the pages turning.

But, through it all, the real villain is society's obsession with, and expectations for, beauty. In a world where every part of a person can be changed - skin, hair and eye colour, bone structure, waist, breast and hip size, and more - no one is ever satisfied. In the insatiable quest for beauty, deep down, everyone hates themselves. Behind this mesmerizing fantasy of magic and terrible secrets, there is a sad tale, and one that many of us won't find completely unfamiliar.

Lots of originality and food for thought. Oh, and it's a damn good pageturner, too.

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    2018 arc fantasy

Emma Giordano

316 reviews107k followers

August 13, 2018

4.5 stars! I had a lot of fun with this story and cannot wait to see where things go from here!

TW: sexual assault, "bury your gays" trope

The writing style of The Belles is one of it’s most prominent points. The prose is decadent, entrancing, and lavish. For me personally, it was a little too flowery at some points but all around unique and interesting. It’s so sweet, full of detailed descriptions of vibrant and sugary imagery, I almost felt as if I could get a cavity from just reading. I do feel the pacing was quite slow in the beginning. With so much to set up in this fantasy world, it did drag a bit but as soon as the plot picked up and more significant events were happening, the pace improved.

The world is equally as individual – Set in a fantasy New Orleans where citizens are born grey, a group of women called the Belles bring beauty to the kingdom of Orlèans. Though there is no modern concept of race/racial tensions, color is beauty and changes as fast as any other fashion trend. It was an interesting take on the many conversations surrounding equality that we are already having today. Regarding the Belles, I did struggle to fully understand how their magic works in the beginning but it felt well developed by the end of the story and I am excited to see how their powers continue to expand in the following books.

I really enjoyed the cast of characters. Camille, Remy, and Edel are my favorites (I CANNOT wait to get to know Edel more in book two!) I would have loved more development on the other Belles as they are ushered out of the story early in the beginning and only appear in short notes to Camille, but I am very hopeful for some powerful girl-squad action in the future. I also love the development of the villain(s) in this story. They are SO DARK AND CRUEL, the perfect antagonist, creating so many conflicts and difficult decisions all throughout the novel. While writing this review, I’ve decided the sinister elements of the story are some of my favorites. On the contrary, I feel the romance in this story was one of the weaker parts. I don’t feel there was enough development of their relationship for me to feel real chemistry between the characters, and that lessened the impact of certain events throughout the story.

Overall, I had a fun time reading The Belles. If you’re in need of a whimsical yet dark fantasy novel, this is the one for you!

I received a free copy of this book from Disney Hyperion at Book Expo 2017. I had no obligation to review this book and all opinions are my own.


Author121 books164k followers

July 19, 2017

I am guessing this is the first book in a series? A trilogy? All I know is that I want to know what happens next. The Belles is richly, gorgeously detailed in the accounting of the world of Orleans and the Belles, young women who are bred to create beauty amongst the citizenry. It took a bit to get into the book but the last third of the book is absolutely worth the world and character building it takes to get there. In the last third of the book, everything starts falling into place exquisitely and we finally begin to realize what's at stake for Camellia, her sister Belles, and the people of Orleans. At times, I was overwhelmed by all the description and struggled for a solid sense of place or what things looked like but that is likely my limitation. There is a really intriguing twist, a subtle romantic plot, and lots of moments where I found myself holding my breath and turning the pages so fast, wondering what would happen next. I really look forward to the next book in this series. Also, I want a teacup elephant. Meanwhile, Dhonielle Clayton is a whipsmart writer with grand, grand talents and the imaginative world she has created is memorable and intriguing, indeed.


455 reviews16.5k followers

March 8, 2018

2.5 stars! This book was such an addictive, fast-paced read. But I did feel it fell apart towards the end, mostly because the "twists" felt very obvious. The characters also feel a tad flat at times, and some elements of the world building were weak. But overall, an enjoyable read if you want a page turner!

TW: sexual assault, bury your gays trope ft. side character

I will be doing a full review on my channel.


1,838 reviews12.4k followers

February 3, 2023

Sometimes too much beauty can be a horrifying thing.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (6)

In the world of Orleans, people are born entirely devoid of color. With red eyes and grey skin, beauty does not come naturally, unless of course, you are a Belle.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. Belles use an Arcana, a type of magic, to shape and shift paying customers into glowing examples of beauty.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (7)

In the beginning, feeling a bit like The Hunger Games, ((and by a bit, I mean A LOT)) we find Camellia competing with her sister Belles to be named the 'favorite' of the kingdom. They have been raised to covet this honor.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (8)

With the tagline of the kingdom being, "May you always find beauty", I have to assume I am not the only reader to gauge heavy HG vibes from this book.

In some ways however, this book felt

more dangerous than The Hunger Games.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (9)

I would equate the overall vibe I picked up to watching, Alice in Wonderland as a child.

The animation is beautiful. The colors are lush, the background has beautiful flowers and mushrooms, but you feel afraid.

There is an ominous presence overarching all of the beauty work that makes you feel cold in your bones. At least, that is how this book felt for me.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (10)

To be honest, I wasn't crazy about this in the beginning. I didn't become truly invested until a little over the halfway mark.

Clayton's writing is strong, it wasn't that. I loved her descriptions of the world and the way she showed the magic system.

However, as can sometimes happen with the first book in a series, there is such a vast world to be built that the plot can suffer because of it.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (11)

I felt like there was so much to bring to the reader before they could envision this world the way the author envisioned it that the story dragged.

With that being said, once the plot really started rolling I could NOT wait to see what was going to happen.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (12)

This story did introduce one of the most evil villains EVER.

Princess Sophia.

I loathe you.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (13)

Guys, this character ranks HIGH on my list of most HATED characters ever. She may actually sit in the number two spot right now; directly under Professor Umbridge.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (14)

Her behavior is absolutely foul and infuriating. Her treatment of others, gah, I just can't even. She's a sad*st.

I mean, that may be a stretch, this is a YA novel but she definitely has some issues. Let's leave it at that.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (15)

The final scene of this book left me with chills and I cannot wait to pick up, The Everlasting Rose.

It was such a cliffhanger and I just know the next book is going to be full of action and further suspense.

I am now a big fan of Camellia, even though we had a rocky start, and I can't wait to see how her character grows in the next book.

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (16)

Sabaa Tahir

Author22 books33.8k followers

April 27, 2017

I will eventually leave a legit review for this, but first I have to pick up the pieces of my shattered heart, which, in case you were wondering, was shattered by Dhonielle and this book. Also I desperately wish post-balloons were real. Read the book and you'll agree. Also Remy. I need Remy to be real, too. NEED SEQUEL YESTERDAY. Pre-order this one, you will be so grateful you did.

Elle (ellexamines)

1,103 reviews18.9k followers

Shelved as 'zzzzz-coverp*rn-etc'

May 20, 2018

I realized I hate repeating myself so here's a whole post on this topic

but anyway: no one is telling you to boycott this, so don't go there. the real point is that I was going to read this while in a horrible mental health stage, it would have been REALLY painful for me, and I am just slightly hurt barely any reviews have mentioned the thing that happens in this book. feel free to look at this review, or just click the spoiler tag:

there are a grand total of three sapphic characters in this book. one is a villain. the other two f*cking die.



806 reviews2,318 followers

February 13, 2021

I started reading this book right after I saw it for the first time on Goodreads. It promised an enjoyable YA read and gladly, it didn’t disappoint. I didn’t read the whole premise and I’m glad I didn’t because it reveals events that won’t happen till 50% of the book. Yes, the main events and the most relevant to the plot of the series as a whole are introduced at that point but still, we can do it without them and discover them along the way.

What you should know, and what you might need to decide if this book falls in your “interesting shelf” is this: this is a YA fantasy in which people are born with a gray skin, rotten hair, just ugly. So we have Les Belles who have magic that can change the person’s appearance and beautify them. Whatever you need, colored hair, slimmer waist, fuller breast, they even can change people’s emotions as in make them more patient, charmer, etc. Les Belles, who were born with color, train all their life to perform in front of the country and try to impress the queen to get chosen the “favorite”. Our MC, Camellia, is a Belle who wants more than anything to be the favorite. So she has to compete against her sisters. I don’t like to tell the outcome of such competitions even if they happen at the start. You might think the MC will, of course, end up the best but it’s not always the case (let’s face it) and it’s fun to experience the tension and root for our hero/heroine.
Anyway, we also have a very wicked princess and her sister who has been coma for years, add some secrets, a charming boy to the mix, and an awesome so cute adorable guard. The summary reveals way more (like the outcome of the competition, something that might appear of little importance at the start, etc).

The whole setting is very interesting. In this society, where people (of course, with money) can change their looks whenever they want, beauty becomes something essential. Something obsessional. People are ready to experience so much pain just to look pretty. If you could change your looks all the time, would you do it just to look more good looking? I liked the topic Dhonielle Clayton handled and the way she did it. The world she created was unique and she did a good job in showing us what these beauty addictions might lead, how they can affect someone’s personality, for the worse.

Camellia was an interesting character and I liked reading from her pov. The few moments she had with her sisters were very enjoyable. What I liked the most about them is that they were all likable and no meanie one (which is very common). Sure, they all wanted to be the favorite but it didn’t affect their feelings toward each other


I disliked August from the start, he just didn’t appeal to me. Instead, I loved Remy (the guard) and ship with Camellia. It is true that he didn’t show much interest in our heroine, but hey, when that did ever stop us from pairing characters.

The end of the book was partially predictable, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating (in a good way, like I WANT THE SEQUEL NOW). It doesn’t end with a cliffhanger exactly but rather a closure to the first arc.

The story was fun and a pageturner. It kept me interested from the start till the end. Yes, it was slow at first and things didn’t get very intense until the last third of the book but I found the first part necessary. To be honest, it felt a bit boring at a time and I could do with fewer descriptions (yes this book about beauty I know but still), still, that didn’t last for long.

The things I didn’t like weren’t that many but they are still there. Les Belles magic abilities weren’t explained enough. Too many mysteries around them and their origin. Camellia didn’t bother to find out more about them even though she wondered why their numbers are decreasing. When it was apparent that her teacher was hiding things from them, little she did to investigate. I would’ve fathered that these beauty appointments to be summed up and instead, she explores a few question marks about her past.

It’s not clear technology’s level in this world, we had screens and that might make you wonder if there’s some technology. Yet, little was explained about that. Too many parts of the world were unexplored. I wish it had more of backbone. It didn’t feel constructed well besides the present and only events that relate to the plot. Yes, it becomes useless information when they become too much but they are so few. Furthermore, I felt the literal translation to French a bit uncreative. Sophie’s monkey, for example, is called “singe” the French translation of monkey.

Briefly, this book is highly entertaining if you’re looking for a good YA fantasy. Nothing memorable but it’ll leave you wanting more. The author created an interesting world inspired from reality nowadays, where beauty is an unhealthy obsession. Looking forward to reading the sequel!

    2018 fantasy ya

Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Author56 books20.1k followers

June 17, 2018

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (21)
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I'm basically that one friend of yours who keeps threatening to delete their Facebook account but never does, only instead of "delete their Facebook account" replace that with "stop reading YA." After the utter disappointment that was CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE, I decided that I was officially putting everyone's YA reviews on notice. I was tired of getting duped.

And then I read THE BELLES.

THE BELLES is not a perfect book. The first 100 pages or so are a nightmare-confection of hyphenated words, overuse of the word "Belle," and more pink, pretty, fluffy things than you would expect to see in the average seven-year-old girl's room. If you can stick it out, you should, because after the first 100 pages, THE BELLES strips off its ballgown to reveal machine gun bazongas, like those women in the first Austin Powers movie, and says, "WHAT UP MOTHERf*ckERS." sh*t gets real.

The best way to describe this book is to imagine the Capitol from THE HUNGER GAMES. (Remember all that ridiculous makeup and those costumes?) Now imagine a world where their entire culture and economy revolves around all that conspicuous consumption and superficial beauty. Orleans is a fantasy kingdom that appears to be very loosely based off New Orleans, where magical girls called Belles use powers called "arcana" to make people beautiful (or ugly) - but at terrible cost.

There have been a number of books coming out over the past couple years that have taken this frothy-fantasy-gone-wrong approach. Similar books are Melissa De La Cruz's THE RING AND THE CROWN, Amy Ewing's THE JEWEL, Richelle Mead's THE GLITTERING COURT, and Aprilynne Pike's GLITTER. Some of these books ran with the topic better than others, but it seems to be becoming a pretty popular subgenre of YA dystopic fantasy and I actually like that, because I think that sense of "othering", of being not good enough when weighed against society's ruthless standards, is something that a lot of people - men and (but especially) women - relate to. Peruse enough hashtags on Instagram and you'll see all sorts of tips and tricks (with sponsored products) about how to make your nose look smaller, your breasts look bigger, or how to slim down in time for summer.

What makes THE BELLES stand out more from some of these other books is that it is, in many ways, a lot darker, and isn't afraid to show that darkness rather than relegating it off-screen. It borrows techniques from chilling works of dystopic sci-fi, like 1984 and THE HANDMAID'S TALE.

You're probably thinking that this is a pretty positive review, and wondering where that "THE BELLES is not a perfect book" business comes in. Well, here's the thing - it's a tad predictable. There are three pretty big twists in this book and I figured out two of them from about twenty pages in. When it happened, I was like, "Aha." Instead of, "Oh noes!" I stuck around through that tedious first 100 pages because of the build-up, so I was kind of disappointed to have my suspicions confirmed.

This book also falls to the Bury Your Gays trope, where the sole LGBT+ character dies in order to spur on the plot. It's a pretty horrific death, too, and happens completely on-screen. Even I was disturbed, which says something if you follow me and know what kinds of twisted sh*t I enjoy reading. I can definitely see why so many people who read this book were upset because of that. There's also a bizarre moment where the book refers to a transgender (or at least non-binary) character in one of the "newsies" (read: tabloids) as "BOY TURNS INTO GIRL" via the arcana magic, which, okay. 1) If they're trans, they were never a boy, and 2) context, please? and 3) gender-reassignment magic seems to be opening up a whole kettle of fish this book isn't ready for.

Apart from that pretty awkward blip, I did enjoy THE BELLES. It's a strange creature, and kind of terrifying, but I found the story fascinating enough that I couldn't put it down. It would make a good movie, too. Just be forewarned that the author sequel-baits the hell out of the ending and yes, it ends on a total cliffhanger and no, The Belles, #2 doesn't even have a publication date, yet.


3.5 to 4 stars

    dark-and-twisted help-help-i-m-being-repressed magic-and-sparkles-and-sh*t

Tucker Almengor

920 reviews1,697 followers

May 23, 2020

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (23)

This is the book you sit in the cold bath water because you would rather be cold and wet than not know how it ended. This is the book you stay up reading be because you would rather read it than sleep. This is the book that would sacrifice a limb for.

For me a big issue with books is they wait to start. They either give you a scene from the middle of the book, giving you false hope that things will be exciting or they open with a bunch of random philosophical sentences and analogies, which is fine when used in balance but a book should always have an exciting sharing opening. It's the deal maker or breaker for a reader. Unfortunately, even some of the best books have boring openings. This book did not. I was ensnared from the beginning.

I really loved the world idea and how it was carried out. I am a big fan of fantasy, especially worlds with magic. The idea of beauty being something that is given and taken was really unique and creative and intrigued me through the entire book. One of my favorite parts of the book, were all the part where I learned more about the Belles powers. I also really loved the almost mythology and lore of the Belles. I really wished that the background and backstory of the Belles in general had been delved into more. Maybe it will in book two.

I really loved the vast array of characters in this book. There were characters to hate and characters to love. I especially hated Sophia, the obvious villian. I mean, I have literally never hated a character more since Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles. Sophia is evil and to be honest, I hope she ends up dying 😂😯 I was honestly kind of frustrated that no one tried to stop her or even stand up to her at all.

I was expecting this book to have romance. I mean it's a YA book. Romance is a given. Right? Wrong. Well sort of. While there was a teeny weeny bit of romance, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of smut. Though a part of me did miss it a bit.

I don't want to dive into the plot twists because I don't want to spoil any of them but towards the end they came flying out of nowhere. I never saw any of them coming. I'm still mind blown.

Thank you so much to Disney Hyperion for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review

Bottom Line:
5/5 Stars
Age Recommendation: 13+ (Violence, Slight Language, Scary Themes, Rape Attempt)
For Fans Of: Caraval,The Giver and The Cruel Prince

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    5-stars fantasy finished-copies-physical


3,448 reviews1,048 followers

January 11, 2019

Galley provided by publisher

Rep: black mc, wlw side characters

I meant to wait a little while until I was less angry about this book, but I don't see that happening anytime soon, to be quite honest. Actually, scratch angry. I'm f*cking furious. I have never been gladder to have been spoiled a character death in my life.

This book is bury your gays. There we go. I said it. It's bury your gays.

Unfortunately, a lot more happens. The princess (cruel, slightly unstable, generally just horrible and sad*stic) decides that Claudine has to marry a man. And this man is a gross attempted rapist. So that's bad enough. And great, we get to see (once again) that the princess is horrible and cruel and should not be allowed to rule.

But it doesn't stop there. Oh no. The princess decides that two Belles have to change Claudine's appearance, each three times, as a competition to find this gross f*ck of a man's favourite look. And they push it so hard Claudine dies. There's plenty of comments earlier in the book about how painful the Belles' work is, so essentially Claudine is tortured to death. And this happens in front of everyone.

And the only point to this scene is so those Belles, Camille and Amber, can be accused of murder. That's it. It would have been so so so easy not to have had the character be Claudine, but no. Apparently, even in this fantasy universe, LGBT characters are not allowed anything near a happy ending. Instead, they get tortured to death for a cruel princess's power kick.

What we end up with is yet another gay character being murdered (1) for cishet pain, (2) to show how cruel the villain is (and note that she's already been shown to be cruel many times over), (3) for the tragedy, and (4) FOR NO f*ckING REASON.

I am so incredibly furious at this book. But I am also glad beyond belief that I went into the book having been spoiled for this character's death. Not how, but at least that it happens. Because it was f*cking awful reading about it having known it was coming, I wouldn't wish anyone to read it without foreknowledge.

Besides that, I had some more mundane problems too. The plot was kind of boring for the best part of 450 pages. Honestly, if you're going to have a book that long, get things moving a bit quicker. There was the occasional hook to keep you interested, but I really just skimread most of it. Maybe it didn't help that I knew about the spoiler beforehand, but also I read one chapter and realised I didn't actually like the premise. So it wasn't an auspicious start. The writing was occasionally purple prosey, but overall pretty good. As for the characters, I only liked three of them and they hardly really appeared (and one of them died, so thanks for that).

All that might ordinarily have lead me to rate this book 2 stars, but then that happened and I was too angry to ever rate it higher than 1. Honestly, it doesn't even deserve that many.

    1-star aoc-et-al black-or-african-characters

Kristen Peppercorn

559 reviews95 followers

February 10, 2018

Okay, I've seen enough. I can't do it anymore. *DNF at 60%*

This started off good enough, albeit extremely, painfully SLOW! Omg, so slow. But that wasn't the worst part. If it were better, I would have taken my good old time and turtled my way through it. However, this book wasn't just slow. It was BORING!

The main character was incredibly unlikable. She was stiff and uptight and had a horrendous superiority complex. We had to listen to her go on and on about how great she is. She was also just kinda mean to people. Like the way she talked to some people. Ugh. I would HATE her in real life.

The obligatory love interest in this book was laughable. In a world where Belles aren't even allowed to date, why even bother with the forced romance? The two had absolutely no chemistry. He would try to be suave and then she would be an ice queen. Her personality sucked so hard.

For the first 100 pages we have to suffer through her going on and on about how she's the best, most talented and a shoe-in for the "favorite." That was all for nothing. *face palm*

The mystery in this book was weak.

The antagonist was a mega-heel super villain.

The writing was stiff.

The idea of this book is original, as well as the cool teacup lions and bears, hence my giving it 2 stars. However, there were quite a lot of unoriginal elements.

For starters, the citizens of Orleans read exactly like those from The Capital in The Hunger Games. Nothing new to see there.

The magic of taking the color from a rose and putting it onto someone's face as magic makeup is the exact same magic trick that I read about last month in The Grisha Trilogy.

I'm not trying to say that the author downright stole these ideas, but she definitely borrowed them.

I fully expected this to be a 5 star read for me. Now I kinda want my money back.

    disappointment dnf young-adult


417 reviews16.5k followers

February 22, 2018


The writing was beautiful and I enjoyed our main character a ton. 🌺
I did feel like the plot was a little slow throughout the book but it really picked up towards the end of it. I enjoyed the aspect and the overall theme of the book and how it centers around beauty and what is beauty as well as how far people will go to be beautiful.
There were a few things I didn’t like which is why ultimately I gave this book a ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75 but I still really enjoyed it.
There is a trigger ⚠️ for attempted sexual assault in this book.
I will be filming a mashup review on this book very soon so look out for that to hear more of my thoughts.
Overall a solid start to an intriguing ya fantasy series!


Tomi Adeyemi

Author10 books20.3k followers

September 8, 2017

Someone online described this book as Marie Antoinette with magic and I would have to agree! Lush, luxurious settings, great prose, a dynamic cast of diverse characters, and scary parallels to our real world. Additionally, I've never read such a diverse fantasy where all different types of beauty are celebrated and exist so seamlessly within the same room. This was the first book I ever got as a reader where picturing everybody in any scene allowed me to picture a diverse array of skin tones and body shapes and it was incredibly refreshing! I can't wait for this book to blow up the world!!

Also the fact that this 500 page book took a slow reader (me) 2 days to finish, should tell you something! It's a luscious escape!


899 reviews3,900 followers

April 25, 2018

Content warning: minor fat shaming, negative LGBTQIA+ tropes, torture of humans and animals, unhealthy beauty standards.

This wasn't bad and I will probably read the sequel, but this isn't the type of fantasy I prefer. It has an underexplained magic system and extremely narrow world building. It didn't really live up to what I wanted as far as commentary on beauty standards either.

Audiobook review: I really enjoyed listening to this but honestly that's probably due to my audio addiction because the narrator read every character besides the main character with either syrupy sweet childish voices or voices that sounded like she had her mouth stuffed with marshmallows.

    2018 audiobooks fantasy

jv poore

633 reviews233 followers

December 10, 2021

This fairy-tale-esque fantasy floored me with the fierce female lead. Camille, despite the best grooming/training, cannot just follow an order. That which makes her seem combative for kicks is instead, an inherent need to do the right thing. When pure good encounters absolute evil, the explosion is epic.

I noticed many of my Goodreads friends enjoying this book, so when I saw it in the wild, I had to buy a copy. Of course, now that I've read it, the right thing to do is to pass this on to my favorite classroom library. "My" students deserve Ms. Clayton on their shelves.

    donated fantasy heyssel-classroom


1,396 reviews1,414 followers

July 9, 2017

You know what the worst thing about reading a book that doesn't come out until February 2018?

I have to wait at least 2 years for the 2nd book.

The Belles is about a society in which a small class of girls control beauty The Belles. I'm not sure if the world in this book is a future version of our world or a fantasy world but I loved it. I don't want to give anything away since it doesn't even come out for 7 months. I will say this though, I think The Belles is going to the book of 2018.

Who do I recommend this book to EVERYONE!

    favorites july-2017 written-by-women


631 reviews805 followers

July 21, 2017



3,402 reviews1,632 followers

August 1, 2018

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton is the first book of the young adult fantasy series by the same name. This series is one that will make readers think on the obsession with beauty in today’s society.

Camellia Beauregard is a young girl who was born into being a Belle, one that holds magic and can control beauty. In Camellia’s world, Orleans, people are born grey and without the beauty they seek and it’s up to Belles like Camellia to cater to the needs of the citizens.

Camellia and her fellow Belle sisters have been competing to find which of them will become the favorite Belle and thus earning the right to serve the royals. Once in position as a Belle however Camellia finds that her powers and the Beauty she serves are not what she’s thought them to be.

The Belles certainly had some very interesting ideas going for it but for me the pacing on this one just seemed way way off. The book began extremely slowly and ended at a furious pace, not that I minded the pick up at the end but I would have liked more balance and interest in the beginning. And while it seemed to be a ton of world building I still found myself with questions that were either pushed to the end or left unsaid so for me this was just a so-so beginning to the series.

For more reviews please visit


397 reviews967 followers

December 15, 2022

This is the kind of book where you finish it having mainly enjoyed it but still feeling a little bit letdown. The premise and blurb actually got me really excited for this but it was a little bit disappointing ngl 😒 I did still enjoy it tho!! ☺🤗

“Be the best without trying to be better than the others.”

The Belles takes place in a fantasy world where humans have been cursed to look ugly, with misshapen bodies and grey skin. However, there are a few non-ugly people- the Belles, blessed by the Goddess of Beauty, and with abilities to transform people’s bodies to make them beautiful too. The Belles are revered above everyone else and our MC, Camellia, is one of them. The book starts off with Camellia and her sister Belles competing to become ‘the favourite’, the special Belle chosen to tend to the royal family, and the plot continues after that.

“Lies are as dangerous as a sword. They can cut to the bone.”

Starting with the characters. This is one area where I feel a bit meh about bc although I didn’t hate them, I found them all a little bit bland. Camellia, the protagonist, was kinda boring imo and I feel like she didn’t go through a whole lot of growth, instead staying the same throughout the book. The side characters were also not super well fleshed out and I wasn’t really attached to any of them (although I did like Rémy). But on the other hand, they were decently likeable and easy enough to root for. The main ‘villain’ of the story was also super easy to hate. So, the characters were okay 😑

Next, the writing. I really loved the writing style!! 🤩🤩 It was super descriptive and elaborate and described the beautiful dresses and luxurious lifestyle the Belles enjoyed in loads of detail 😍 I also loved the descriptions of what the Belles did during their beauty sessions with customers. Dhonielle Clayton’s writing style actually really reminded me of Stephanie Garber’s writing! So if you’re a fan of her writing, I’m sure you’d like the writing in this book too 🥰🥰
However, there was one negative about the writing: bc it was so flowery, it could be hard to read for long periods of time and that meant I took a while to read the book. But it’s not that big of a deal.

The plot. Hmmmm 😑😑 Tbh the plot wasn’t executed super well- I feel like large chunks were just filler 😬😬 Although interesting things were happening, these different events would be so far apart that you would have to struggle through enormous portions of filler to get to them- and this meant my interest waned at times. It did get a bit better after the halfway mark but imo it only got SUPER interesting in the last 100 pages. However, I LOVED those last 100 pages- so much juicy drama!! The ending was also really good imo 🤩🤩

Another thing I really liked was the worldbuilding. It had a super interesting premise that I hadn’t seen done before and discovering more about it throughout the book definitely kept me interested! Although it could be a little too vague at times, it didn’t confuse me too much so that didn’t bother me a huge amount. I also thought using this fantasy world was a really clever way to show humanity’s obsession with beauty. The book had a strong message at its core, which definitely showed 🤗🤗

“Love is when hearts beat together.”

Overall, there were definitely some ups and downs, but I did enjoy it in the end. Although some things definitely irked me, I would recommend it if you’re looking for:

✔️ Super elaborate & magical Stephanie Garber-esque writing
✔️ Interesting and original premise
✔️ More slower-paced plot
✔️ Twists and turns at the end
✔️ Intriguing ending
✔️ Small romantic subplot

But if you decide to give it a go, be warned about the slow and sometimes uneven pacing and lack of characterization. That will definitely bother some readers.

Although I did enjoy it, I probably won’t be picking up the sequel. The ending was good, but the thought of reading another slower paced book like this just doesn’t sound appealing. Still, a pretty good read! ☺🙌

~ 3.5 stars


It was pretty good, but not quite as enjoyable as I was expecting tbh 😒😒 I did love the climax/ending tho!! 🤩🤩


    fantasy ongoing-series pretty-good


891 reviews237 followers

February 20, 2018

Initial Thoughts: We're still burying our gays? In this day and age? Seriously?

A copy of this novel was provided by Hachette Australia for review.

The Good

1) The writing

The writing style of The Belles was, for the most part, engaging. There was definitely something about it that kept me hooked every time I opened it, which was evident by the fact that I read about one hundred or so pages every time I picked this book up.

2) The story

The Belles is set in a world where beauty is the single most important thing to people. However, this doesn’t mean that they cherish beauty, as their tastes and fashion changes faster than the speed of light. The world of The Belles was one of those instances where you want to look away because it’s so vapid and horrible, and yet you can’t find the will to.

3) #ownvoices black rep

Though #ownvoices books are increasing in number, a lot of the titles being published are contemporary. Which is great because contemporary books often tackle real world problems, which is incredibly important. But I'm particularly excited when #ownvoices fantasy books are released because fantasy is my jam and I focus a lot of my reading on diverse books. So when I saw the cover for The Belles, and knew that it was #ownvoices for black rep, I my interest in it was definitely piqued. We need more #ownvoices books, more books by women of colour. Especially in genre fiction, where characters get to be heroes.

The Bad

1) The writing

Yes, the writing in The Belles is both a good and a bad point. The reason it’s landed in the bad aspects of the book is because it was extremely repetitive, and at times very hard to slog through. I cannot count how many times every single thing was compared to food. Skin colour, hair colour, dress colour, eye colour, lip colour – literally everything that had a colour was compared in a food-themed analogy.

2) The pace

The first one hundred or so pages were pretty darn boring. There was only a small part of me that was actually interested in continuing, instead of just DNF-ing in favour of a book that didn’t take so long to get to the point. Come the last fifty or so pages, the pacing was almost too fast, and so many big plot points were skimmed over in favour of the semi-cliffhanger ending.

3) The romance

There was absolutely nothing there. The main character and her love interest lacked any and all connection and chemistry, which made it very hard to believe that Camellia would go against everything she’d been brought up to believe about how her Belles powers react to love. The connection between Camellia and her beau was seemingly unfounded because they only interacted a handful of times, most of which were filled with subpar banter.

The Problematic

1) The misgendering a trans character

Throughout The Belles there are a number of scattered headlines from the newspapers that the main character reads, and one of them pertained to a trans person undergoing gender affirmation surgery at the hands of a Belle. The headline misgendered the trans person in the first few words. I suspect the line was supposed to make the reader believe that the world of The Belles is trans inclusive but it did the complete opposite by refraining from using the word trans/transgender and misgendering the character.

2) The murder of a queer girl character

I had requested The Belles from the publisher before I knew that a queer character was murdered in this book. If I had, there’s no way I would have requested it, or read it. But since I hold myself to a reviewing standard of ‘if you request it, you read and review it’ I read every word and page of The Belles.

There was a rumour floating around that the author was going to change the fact of this murder, but I want you to know that this is not the case. A queer girl character, one of only two who have any lines or character arc (the other dies as well, in case you were wondering how other queer characters in this book fare), is murdered by Camellia and her bestest buddy. After the princess deems that she’ll marry a sexual predator instead of her girlfriend. This murder occurs for fleeting allocishet pain, and all so that Camellia is hated by the court. I am sure that a queer girl didn’t have to die just so Camellia would leave. There are other ways to spur on that kind of plot point. There are ways other than killing a queer girl.

The on page murder itself was absolutely disgusting. I won’t go into details, because the event had my heart beating wildly and my hands shaking so I would not force the details upon anyone unwillingly. I will only say that I was incredibly, incredibly angry that this death had made it to the final version of The Belles. And that hardly anyone was talking about it.

I understand the importance of The Belles for black girls who have never seen themselves on the YA fantasy covers of girls in pretty dresses, and who have never seen themselves as the heroine of that same book. But this book also has two queer characters dying, one of which is murdered in a horrible way, and no one is talking about how wrong it is. I’ve said this before, and I will say it again here: we should not prioritise one marginalised community over another. We should not ignore harmful aspects in books just because we’ve found positives in that same text.


All in all, The Belles did not turn out the way I was hoping. I simply cannot overlook the abysmal treatment of almost every single queer character.

© 2018, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: reference to animal cruelty (explicit), reference to animal death, murder of queer character, character in coma (drugged), attempted murder, poisoning, reference to death of mother, reference to torture, reference to murder, use of ableist language, fat shaming, bullying, torture, classism, inhumane imprisonment, vomiting (explicit), sexual assault, misgendering, and inhumane experiments


Brittney ~ Reverieandink

224 reviews5,118 followers

Want to read

February 6, 2018

Hey guys! In honor of release day, I'm partnering with @disneybooks for The Belle's Blog Tour - and hosting a giveaway for a hardcover + beauty pouch! Click here to enter!

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (36)

Good luck!!


1,280 reviews400 followers

March 25, 2018

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Just like the beauty described within, The Belles is beautiful yet ultimately flawed.

Camellia is a Belle, blessed by the Goddess of beauty with the gift to change the appearance of the people of Orleans, who have been cursed to be born grey and without colour. Trained from birth along with her sisters, Camellia sees it as her duty to offer such an important service and wants nothing more than to be picked by the queen as the favourite, honoured with the role of beautifying the royal family. But things don’t always go to plan.

I’ll start with the positives. The descriptions of the environment, the girls and their beauty treatments are lush, detailed and full of colour (although very food orientated at times, especially in relation to skin colours). It’s also a well thought out and reasonably well developed world. There are hints of Japanese teahouses and rich carnivals that help to define the world and ground it in a sense of its own reality. The glimpses we see of the wider world outside of the palace were often the highlights for me, as they were so vibrant and intriguing. I would have liked more time here.

The pacing is slow, especially in the first half of the book as nothing really seems to happen other than meeting a large number of characters that seem to serve little purpose. However, the mysteries and intrigues encountered by Camellia on her journey had me hooked. I wanted to know the various ins and outs and why’s desperately, and this had me reading on even with the slow pace. I did start to worry at about 80% of the way through as not all of my questions had been answered, however most of them were resolved by the end - although not necessarily to their full extent, and the finale felt rather rushed. It felt like I’d been dealt half a pack of cards, with the author holding back a few intrigues for a second book. Which I admit, did irritate me.

The main characters, for the most part, are ok. Camellia as the main protagonist is the standard YA heroine. Special gifts, but with a rebellious heart and a need to bend the rules. Naive, yet a good egg. She was likeable enough to carry the story, but a bit bland. There was no bite and no feistiness. No depth to her character. Her sisters all follow a similar vein, although we rarely see them, which was a shame. There was potential here to develop a strong bond of female characters that I thought was wasted. Sophia was the main draw here, as she makes a great antagonist. Unpredictable, lashing out when you least expect it, and coming up with some devious and often awful deeds to make others suffer. She’s also harbours an obsession that runs as an undercurrent throughout the whole population. With the Belles, their power and most importantly their beauty. As with most of the inhabitants of Orleans she’s beautiful, but wants to be the most beautiful. She’s insecure and this manifests as a deep rooted, all consuming desire to control everything and everyone. I loved it.

The secondary characters, unfortunately, are the main downfall here. They seem to be thrown under the bus on multiple occasions just for the sake of the plot, instead of being properly developed. Several times I thought there was potential to really drive a plot with a unique and underplayed character in YA (such as the queen and her female lover, or Sophia’s lady in waiting and her secret love affair with her female servant) only for them to trail off into nothing. Or be used as a pointless plot device. It was deeply disappointing. I want more from my YA these days.

I think by the end, this was my final impression of the Belles. It was pretty, but without any real substance. Will I continue on to read the next in the series? I’m unsure.

    arc fantasy fiction

Abbie (boneseasonofglass)

294 reviews422 followers

March 1, 2018

My feelings on this are quite mixed. I liked aspects, but disliked others, was intrigued and excited at times, but also bored at others.

The Good:
POC main character, interesting world, diabolical villain, beautiful descriptions
I liked Camille, and her character growth through the book
There were a fair few plot twists that were great too

The Bad:
The pacing wasn't the best in my opinion, as I said above. i got bored at points
I also think the world building could've been a bit more structured. Like we did get a good overview of the world and how the Arcana works, but it didn't feel quite as structured as I would've liked it to be.
Also the descriptions were a little over descriptive too, as well as a bit repetitive

Overall this was an okay first book in a series, but it didn't blow me away

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (39)

I'm not sure If i'll continue the series yet. It'll depend on the description of the next book I suppose, but at the minute, I don't think it's likely. I think i'll lose interest between now and the next book coming out, as it will probably be 1 year +

I honestly wish I could've loved this, but it wasn't meant to be haha

The Belles (The Belles, #1) (40)



2,837 reviews740 followers

January 5, 2018

I loved the synopsis of this book and couldn’t wait to get into it.

I really liked Camellia. She’s smart and loving and inquisitive. I loved that she made her own decisions and didn’t just trust blindly. The relationship between the sister Belles was sweet and I wish we could have gotten just a bit more of that. There are a lot of characters in this book, but everyone was fairly easy to keep track of.

Plot wise, it was captivating. We’re thrust into this jewel and candy colored world and even though there were some repetitive scenes, I was never bored. At times I was remind of THG with some of the titles and fashion aspects, but it was quite unique.

My only complaint is that I went into this book thinking it was a stand alone, only to find out when I finished that it’s a series. The ending is mildly infuriating, but there’s a great set up for the next story.

Overall, the characters and world building intrigued me and I’m eager to see what’s happens next.

**Huge thanks to Freeform Books for providing the arc free of charge**

    book-club physical-arc read-in-2018


340 reviews11.7k followers

March 22, 2018

This is a very fun and fascinating read!


Author7 books632 followers


December 11, 2018

I'm afraid I won't be finishing this one. This is pretty disappointing, because everyone seems to love it and that cover is just beautiful, but the book itself... Maybe it does get better, after 100 pages it feels like a slog already, so I just don't think it is for me. I won't give it a rating, but I do have to say, the downfall of The Belles for me is the fact that the author just tries so hard to make it original and special, but all this faffing about results in the story and character development falling by the wayside. The book really overuses metaphors and similes (reminding me a little of Caraval, though I quite enjoyed that book). Camellia didn't strike me as likable, or even particularly interesting, and I am a reader who can forgive a weak story if the characters are well written. I also got tired very quickly of all this talk about beauty, blah, blah, blah. I'm guessing the story will deepen and there will be far more to it, but as I say, I did read 100 pages, and I generally think I can get a decent sense of whether I will like a book by then. I wish I could write a rave review for this book and tell you that I really loved it, unfortunately it just wasn't for me. Hope you enjoy it more, if you give it a try!
Find more reviews and bookish fun at

    didn-t-finish fantasy-sci-fi ya


193 reviews4,135 followers

July 22, 2017

This book was so addictive! I had a few issues with the writing style, but the overall concept and plot kept me absolutely hooked from beginning to end. Really interesting world and characters, and I'll definitely be picking up the next book in the series.


425 reviews1,303 followers

March 20, 2018

Imagine a world where beauty rules everything and matters more than anything. In Orléans, the citizens are born gray due to a curse. It is the Belles job to make people beautiful by giving them distinguishing features, hair color/length, eye color, body type, skin tone, etc. It is a Belle’s duty to serve the kingdom. Every Belle wants to be the favorite Belle - the one to serve the Queen and royal family herself, and of course be revered as the most talented and beautiful Belle of all. Will being a Belle be all it’s meant to be? It soon becomes clear that what the Belles know of the world might not be completely true.

The Belles are presented to the kingdom on their sixteenth Birthday when they will soon learn of their placements. Other than the favorite, the Belles are assigned to tea houses where they will make those who come to them beautiful. There is a lot we learn about how the Belles’ powers work and, of course, the inner-workings of the royal family. There's the Queen & King, but the more prominent character of the royal family is Princess Sophia, the vindictive and malicious future possible ruler of the kingdom. The thing is: her older sister Princess Charlotte is ill, remaining unconscious and no one knows why. The favorite Belle must do what anyone in the royal family asks..including Sophia.

We follow Camellia throughout her Belle journey, going where she is placed and meeting whoever she meets. There are six Belles in total this generation. Camellia has a deep love and appreciation for her sisters, but especially Ambrosia. It's fun to learn about the world along with Camellia, as the presentation at age sixteen is the Belles' first time out into the world. Before that, they remain where they grew up. So we experience the world with a slight sense of naivety.

There are so many gorgeous, vibrant descriptions throughout when it comes to the setting, dresses, food, people and just about everything. You can't exactly tell a story with beauty playing such a key component in the plot and not have lush descriptions. It is absolutely marvelous. Nothing feels overwritten, truly just pulling you deeper into the world Clayton has created.

The story is certainly a slow burn, at least for a while up to the last 100 pages or so where things really speed up. I found myself thoroughly entertained throughout needing to know what is truly going on with the things that don't seem quite right. And, on top of everything, there is an exploration of beauty, race, identity and perception. I am so looking forward to the sequel to this one.

    fantasy read-in-2018 young-adult

Chelsies Reading Escape

631 reviews399 followers

June 6, 2020

In The Belles we follow Camilla, one of the new Belles presented at court. In a world where everyone is born grey, Belles are the only ones who can bring beauty and color to the people through the magic given to them by the Goddess of Beauty. Camilla and her closest Belles sister Amber both covet the postion of Queens Favorite and have been training really hard all their lives to be chosen.Once at court Camilla discovers some secrets that changes her perspective on what it means to be a Belles. Now she must decide if she willing to break all the rules to save the people of Orleans.

Camilla was a caring, ambitious and inquistive character. I liked how she tried to make things work without being all selfless and giving up on her dream of being the favorite Belles at the first sign of trouble. I also loved how she believed people were beautiful the way they were and how much she cared for her sister Belles. The sisterhood she had with the other Belles was amazing but I would have liked a little bit more of it. Im sad that her maid Bree was pretty much forgotten because I really liked her. I also thought the villain was really compelling. She was smart, manipulative and frankly terrifying.

I had a couple issues like how I wish the only LGBT character got a different ending andthe part were the gossip magazines say theQueen isonly keeping the disabled Princess alive so the other Princess wont inherit the throne.I thought the writing was very beautiful, but it took me a few chapters to get use to it. To be honest, I was just so happy to finally find a book with enchanting writing that didnt slow down the plot. With all the wonderful visuals and whimsical world building I think this would make a great movie. This novel was highly entertaining.

I enjoyed all the unique and charming touches the author added to her story, but Im still not sure how those post balloons work. All that food gave me a major sweet tooth.Iloved all the secrets and court intrigue. The mystery kept me turning the pages well into the night. We discover how Belles come to be and why they retire so young as the Camilla does. Not having all the information was a little confusing at first, but I ended up loving how the information was delivered.The last 100 pages were intense and I cant wait to get my hands on the sequel.

*received for review consideration*

    2018-releases all-time-favorites review-books
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