**Review at https://smadasbooksmack.blogspot.com/ **
"May you always find beauty."
In a word where everyone is gray and dull, completely the same, and lacking in beauty, are the Belles- girls who were descendants of the Goddess Beauty, who have the revered ability to change people's images, to bring them color and life. All the Belles desire to be the Chosen Belle, the Belle that gets to stay at the palace, a place of honor and prestige. When it comes time for the new generation of trained Belles to perform for the Royal Family for assignments, Camellia and the other five girls perform, but Camellia went outside of her instructions and caused an uproar. What happens when strict rules and Beauty don't always go hand in hand...
This book was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous and vivid with imagery, be it their costumes, hair, treatments, world or the delicious sounding treats always served that increased my sweet-tooth to outrageous levels. Dhonielle was able to create vivid imagery to lure me in, but not so verbose that she lost track of the the plot and characters, which was just the perfect balance to hook me. But underneath the beautiful world Dhonielle created was absolute horror, danger, mystery and harsh truths. I am so in love with the complexities of this story, I just want to fangirl and hug the book to my chest. There was a comment made in the book that really stuck with me- How do you quantify beauty? And that my friend is a great question that Dhonielle focuses on.
"You can never be clean enough, pretty enough, or smart enough."
This was just as much a mystery as it was an intricately created fantasy. Camellia has been taught the world was one way, full of tradition, honor and beauty, but really Camellia was mislead, the world has so much more to it, full of dark secrets and lies that are just waiting for someone to discover. I will admit that I picked up a total Hunger Games vibe with the elaborate (aka crazy and always shifting) overindulgence of the wealthy people (cough cough District 1) as well as the phrases used such as "May You Always Find Beauty" which seemed a lot like "May the odds be ever in your favor" that was thrown around in Hunger Games.
It was a little too overused how the characters all were just so sweaty, all the time! I think the author used the character with a sweaty brow as a way for the characters to emote- but I really feel like you wouldn't know someone else was sweating unless you were super close to them or they were sweating profusely. Just saying (and me being picky, really one of my only complaints).
As a very important side note, I really, really need a tea cup animal! They were so amazing and tiny, and came in all types of animals, be it monkey to elephant and all the people of "importance" had one, usually on their person and they accessorized well with the animal. It was such a cool, tiny element that really enhanced the fantastical of the world and I need one. So, just in case you stumble over a teacup elephant, dragon or tiger, please contact me, asap.
I don't want to give away anything and ruin the story for the next reader, but this was a really good, complex story with some sharp edges that I never saw coming. I can't wait for whatever will come next for the Belles and it is a guarantee that I will read more from Dhonielle, be it in the Belles world or elsewhere! Oh, and be prepared to crave sweets as a side effect of this story.