Belles are used to create beauty in the citizens of Orleans because they think they're ugly. Camellia and her sisters were born (grown) for this specific reason. The Queen holds a ceremony to pick a "favorite" Belle. The one chosen is tasked with keeping the royal family happy and beautiful.
Eventually the Belles realize all isn't roses and daisies in Orleans. They hear screaming into the night, secrets are kept, nastiness by the citizens and people in power is rampant. People will go to the end of the world and further to be seen as beautiful. The darker undertones of The Belles reflect real life, and how the wish to be seen as desirable can become too much sometimes.
We are introduced to a deliciously evil villain, who just so happens to be the Queen's daughter, and the regent queen at that. Virtually untouchable and unstoppable, we see her dole out punishment after punishment for kicks and giggles or for punishment as well. I haven't hated a character like her in quite some time.
This is only the first book in a series, and I absolutely can't wait to get my hands on the second one already, and this book still has a month to be actually released! Clayton definitely outdid herself with a book that has relevant meaning to every day life while still keeping us intrigued with a vast variety of characters we end up hating or loving.
I haven't read a book in quite awhile that had this much detail in it, definitely a major page-turner. I could see the dresses that Camellia thought up in my mind, as well as the myriad of beauty changes that happened throughout the book. This is one book I'd love to see made into a movie.