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Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Hello Readers & Friends,

I just finished reading The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton and I'm excited to post my review. I got this book at a Blind Book Date stall and had no clue what to expect. When I opened it, I loved the blurb, but woudn't have ever picked it up myself because I judge a book by it's cover (sad but true) and I hate the cover. It's out of focus and tacky and gross and I don't even know who the girl is meant to be because she doens't have a Belle bun so it's just a random out of focus, fuzzy woman. (Is she meant to be Camille?!)

So I went into it not really knowing what to expect but was really pleasantly surprised, and gave it 4 stars because I really looked forward to reading it every day and am already looking forward to ordering the sequel.

I loved the idea of delving into concepts to do with the pressures of beauty and society's need to be more and more beautiful, even at the cost of pain. It's like plastic surgery on steroids in this book, with The Belles magical women with the ability to completely recreate a person's appearance. The irony behind the fact that everyone wants to look different by changing themselves is not lost.
I liked the main character, the way Camille is always trying to encourage her clients to accept themselves and tells them that they are beautiful as they are, despite being forced into performing ridiculous changes.
I love the friendships Camille has with Bree and Remy, it gives her a credible likeness.

I really rated the newspaper headlines that are shared sporadically throughout the book and help with world-building and giving the reader an understanding of how everything works, such as being unable to make organs younger in order to allow for natural deaths. The world-building in general was nice. Especially the teacup animals!

The writing is extremely descriptive, sweet, fluffy and flowery. It creates beautiful ornate and opulent images in your mind, but sometimes overdoes it and can be tiringly repetetive. For example, we don't have to hear about Camille setting up her beauty table every single time she has a beauty appointment. We know how it works after one explanation.

The love-interest was, in my opinion, kind of gross and a bore. He was that typical overly arrogant young boy and I didn't dig him, but I also liked how Camille responded to him with feigned irritation and didn't pander to him. I did not read this book for the romance and you'll be disappointed in it if that's what your after - it's not a book for that at all. He's just in the background as an irritant, rather than a key part of Camille's story.

The book was extremely easy to read, and there were good mysteries that kept you page-turning. I felt it did include a lot of diversity which I loved considering the beauty themes of the story. We had lesbians and black women and curvy women and it was very refreshing how open and liberal this world had been made to be. I know this may anger some people who have given this book very few stars due to the Bury Your gays trope, but I have to disagree. Unless I misunderstood, the lesbian character was killed for betraying the princess, not for being a lesbian? Or maybe I misunderstand that trope entirely, it's a touchy subject for a lot of people I'm sure.

The book had a lot of very disturbing scenes, that murder scene in particular, but also some relating to animals and it could be very dark compared to the image the cover gives, but I enjoyed the twists and turns and horrors that came. The antagonist was cruel and I hated her justly and they built her to be quite terrifying.

Also, I hated Amber. She was a selfish, narcisistic weirdo.

Did you read it?
What did you think?

C x


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