So I really liked this book, but I don’t think I liked it as much as I expected too. I think the problem boils down to the fact that I read too many GOOD reviews for it before I started which brought my expectations way up. I think it might be better to go into this book knowing/expecting less. So maybe if you want to read this book, don’t read my review.
That being said, I did really like this book. The world was great. It was really really cool to see a fantasy world inspired by New Orleans. From beignets to bayous and all the Cajun-French names taken straight from New Orleans and the surrounding areas, it felt a lot like home. I could tell that the author is not actually from this area (Metairie is not a glamorous place), but I love this area so I loved seeing it transformed into this really cool fantasy version.
Although it was little slow to start, focusing mainly on world-building and seemingly innocent beauty treatments and character interactions, there’s an underlying sinisterness/feeling of dread/feeling that something is wrong. It was a really good vibe and it’s definitely a positive point. But it foes brings me to my biggest complaint, which may border on spoiler-ish. I was kind of expecting more big reveals than there were and more omg moments and more secrets. I think based on reviews I went in expecting some big mystery and big surprising reveal about what the Belles are and where they come from, and didn’t get that.
On further reflection, letting a day go by before writing this review, there IS more going on than what appears on the surface and what the Belles are told their whole childhood, and most of it WAS quite terrible and sinister, but to me none of it was surprising and if it was meant to be surprising then it was somewhat predictable. The Belles and the Kingdom are what they appear to be. But the inner workings of the court are not, and people who profess to be good are not. So don’t go in expecting mystery in the aspect that I did, just expect everything to be more sinister than it appears.
One more small complaint is that everything was kind of vague, it never explains what the arcana are that give the Belles their power. Is it little creatures? Just a special power? It’s talked about from the beginning like we should already understand. A little two sentence explanation would have completely eliminated this complaint which I kept expecting to get but never did.
So. All that complaining aside I really DID like this book. It was super creative and really well-written and a great storyline. Although it was completely different, I’d recommend it to fans of The Selection and Uglies. I’m actually really looking forward the the sequel. Although The Everlasting Rose is not getting as good of reviews as this one, I’m hoping my lower expectations actually turn into a better end result. Hopefully it answers some questions I was left with at the end of this book. The cliffhanger really set it up to be good, and now that I know it’s not going in the direction I thought, I’m fully embracing the direction it IS going.