The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
I am riding HIGH on joy from NOVA teen book festival. And some wine and decongestant meds. So this will be all over the place.
The short version is I REALLY LOVE THIS BOOK. And I want to tell you eeeeeverything but also not, so you can enjoy it. I’ll do my best to give you bits.
Synopsis: Camellia is a Belle, one of the few girls who are born with the gift of Beauty. (So magical plastic surgery, for people’s bodies and personalities.) She and her “sister” Belles are competing for the position of the royal Favorite, but they quickly find out there’s a buttload of secrets and court intrigue afoot. Like why is one of the princesses in a coma? And why is Camellia hearing sobbing in the night?
Non-spoiler thoughts: HERE FOR IT.
– the kingdom, Orleans, is sumptuous and immersive. Clayton builds a world that I’m furious doesn’t exist and can’t go visit. The society lives for decadence and frivolity, which yeah, is bad, but in a novel it’s delicious.
– I am so so so tired of the weird girl who “can’t” make friends with other girls/only has a male friend w. whom she eventually bones down. (I think thats grammatically right.) That is NOT the case here. The Belles compete against each other but they’re still friends and sisters, and the strength of their bonds is woven throughout the book.
– THERE ARE TEACUP ANIMALS. I could have so many more dogs if they were tinier. How dare Clayton plant this idea in my head that doesn’t exist. This will come back up as I get drunker.
– weirdly what was in my head for the Belles’ beauty treatment scenes was the Real Housewives franchises.
Sometimes when you’re married you have to do things you don’t want to do. Like putting aside your drunk review to play 4th on some switch game bc your husband asked you to. This is what true love looks like.
This has nothing to do with The Belles. ANYWAY.
***There might be spoilers ahead.****
Spoiler thoughts: STILL HERE FOR IT
– There’s a love story thats importnat but doesn’t serve as the primary plot. Camellia meets a guy for the first time and she’s exploring her feelings for him, but isn’t willing to risk everything for him. And not in a “I’m scared of leaving my safety net” way, but a “i worked hard to get where I am and I want to be powerful and you might not be worth it.” Btw, he does NOT end up being worth it, he ends up being an epic garbage monster.
– So, beauty. The normals are born grey, and they need the Belles to make them “beautiful.” Instead of fashion changing every season, body types, features, skin color change every season. Which then makes you think about what other cultures consider beautiful, and the fucked up things they do to achieve this wildly subjective concept. I had more thoughts on this, but I keep rabbit hole-ing and getting tangled and realized, no, wine, this is not a talk we should have by ourselves.
– the mythology is fascinating and built well, but it ties into my one issue with the book. Shit, but I don’t want to talk about my issue because it kind of ties into a reveal I REALLY don’t want to ruin. GAH. look just ask me what it is offline and I’ll tell you.
– The non-coma princess is a complete psychopath and it’s terrifying and amazing.
– OH I FORGOT the kingdom has a matriarchy, I liked that
– I have been craving macarons for days because of this goddamn book
Alright ready to talk about teacup pets again. So initially i was going to say teacup penguin, because I’m into fairy penguins right now. But if i had tiny dragons and dressed them in Hello Kitty hats to up my Hello Khaleesi costume game–why am I lying? I want 101 teacup shih tzus. Living my best life.
Rating – 5 out of 5 teacup elephants. I CANNOT WAIT FOR BOOK TWO.
What i would pair this with – I don’t know if this exists, but something fizzy w matcha–effervescent, slightly bitter bite underneath.
GOING TO BED NOW