In a world where everyone is born ugly, the Goddess of Beauty has blessed the Belles with the ability to create beauty through their arcana. Raised amongst her sisters, Camellia wants nothing more than the honor of being the Queen's favorite. She wants to make everyone feel beautiful and be beautiful, just like her mother did. Yet Camellia is starting to realize that beneath all of the glitz and glam are thick layers of rot.
I really enjoyed this book, which takes today's strive for beauty, and general Versaillespiration, and turns the dial to 1000. It reminded me a lot of The Jewel in tone and environment, where girls with powers and fertility are kept by rich and powerful women to give them babies and be pets or whatever, where everything is beautiful and dazzling but filled with a dark underside. In Camellia's world, beauty is everything and true beauty can only be attained by the Belles, who are glamorous yet sheltered. But this beauty is fleeting, and it leads to ever increasing yearning to be the prettiest of them all—yes, that allusion to Snow White is intentional—and has created a world where illusion and insincerity rule over all. While the story initially starts off like an overdecorated cupcake, with lots of fluff and flippery and no substance, it quickly darkens with little hints that all is not well in the state of Denmark.
Camellia is a decent heroine who behaves as a girl raised in a cloistered and rigidly structured environment would. She wants rebellion, but only within the confines of her world. There were parts that really irritated me (view spoiler)
I loved her relationship with her sister-Belles and how close they all were, although they are separated for the majority of the book. The magic-system is intriguing as well, as were Camellia's deepening understanding of her powers, and I really liked that skin color didn't matter one little bit. All colors were welcome and beautiful except the default grey of the Gris, and caramel-skilled Camillia is one of the most beautiful of the girls.
I'm definitely looking forward to book 2!
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.