'The Belles' is the first book in a young adult fantasy trilogy that will have readers hooked from the very first page. I ended up reading the entire book in 1 sitting. I was sucked into the story from the beginning and I couldn't stop reading until I had finished. The story was original and was very well written. I don't do any spoilers in my reviews, so I can't go into much detail without giving anything away. It had a quick pace but made me want to stay inside Camellia's world long after the story was over. Writing style is always a big aspect of reading for me personally and it usually revolves around the point of view the story is told from. The author wrote this story in the first person from our main character's perspective. In my opinion, it was the perfect choice and I'm so incredibly happy the author chose to write it from this POV.
The characters were all realistic and well-rounded, especially Camellia, the main character. She's a fantastic lead for the book. She's smart, strong, willful, determined, and a loyal friend. Like everyone, she has her bad traits too - she's stubborn and doesn't like to follow the rules. I was able to really connect with Camellia right from the start and I loved watching her grow and change throughout the story. I liked getting a peek inside her mind - her thoughts, feelings, hopes, and fears all allowed me to feel like I knew her personally and as if I was experiencing everything that happened right along with her. The setting was interesting and the author brought it to life with vivid imagery and incredibly detailed descriptions. I could easily close my eyes and picture myself there with Camellia and the other characters. I especially loved the little details the author included that were French-related, like the name of the town. I'm a huge Francophile, so each little mention and word was an added bonus for me to love. I really loved this book and I'm so incredibly excited that it's the first of a new trilogy. I very highly recommend it to fans of YA fantasy.