In the world of Orléans, the Belles are a gift to the world from the goddess of beauty. The God of the Sky turned the humans of Orléans grey and ugly in a fit of anger. The Bells were sent to bring beauty back to the world.
Camellia is one of six Belles debuting this year. When each of the girls has displayed her skills to the queen at the Beauté Carnaval, the queen will assign the girls to the place where they will serve the people. Only one of them can be “the favorite” and serve the royal family and their most honored guests at the palace. And Camellia – Camille – is determined to win.
But nothing goes as Camille expects. There are secrets at the palace. And at the tea houses where the Belles serve. Even back at the home where they were raised. Secrets. Lies. Manipulations. Betrayals. Nothing has prepared Camille for the reality of her new life or what will be asked of her.
Wow! This book left me feeling stunned. It was nothing like I expected. It doesn’t look like a fantasy from the cover, but it very much is. There’s a lot of world building that went into the development of this story. It took me a little while to get the feel of it. It’s about beauty on one level – about being the best of the best. I think I was expecting something along the line of The Selection, but this is something entirely different.
I’m can’t exactly say I enjoyed this. I didn’t click with the main character. And characters are almost always what makes a book special for me. There are enough secrets and twists in this that it’s hard to feel like you really know the characters. And Camille is stuck between a rock and a hard place. She’s not even sure who she’s going to be in the face of some events.
At the same time, the story was absolutely captivating. I was rooting for Camille against her foes. I was breathless as things accelerated toward the end. The finish left me at loose ends, wondering what could possibly happen next. Underneath the beauty pieces is a dark, twisty and suspenseful tale of madness, betrayal and manipulation. It’s brilliantly written. And while I feel no draw to a character or my usual feelings about a great book, I also know I will have to read the next book to find out what happens. (Trigger warning for assault)
Thanks to Netgalley and Freeform for the opportunity to read an electronic copy of this book for review purposes. While it was nothing like I was expecting, and at the same time it was excellent.