Camellia is a Belle. The Belles are in charge fo making people beautiful and setting the standards of beauty for all of Orléans. In Orléans, the people are born ugly, with gray skin and matted hair. It is the job of the belles to shape them into the people they want to be, for a price. Camellia wants to be the favorite so she can become the Belle of the queen, just like her mother who passed away a few years ago. Instead, her friend Ambrosia gets to be the favorite, and she is sent to one of the other Teahouses to serve as one of their Belles. Soon, she starts to hear strange crying at night and notices strange happening within the teahouse. Later, she is even asked to perform procedures that even seem strange. Camellia starts to learn that being a Belle is far more than she had expected, and there are things that have been hidden from her throughout her sheltered childhood.
I read this in an online book club, and we were rather mixed on this book. Some, like me, thought that it was okay. Others thought that it was horrible.
I believed that Camellia was human, even though she was a bit wishy-washy. For someone who had been trained in what to do since she was young, she was doing things wrong and revealing secrets from the time that she officially became a Belle. I say that she just wasn’t used to talking to people that weren’t her sisters, but it was quite irresponsible of her. Especially when she had already received years upon years of training in order to become a Belle.
The pacing was good. The book didn’t seem to slow down or speed up in a bunch of spots, which allowed for a smooth read.
I thought that the romance with August was simply unnecessary. I would have preferred for her to either be completely avoiding love and focusing on her duties, or to fall in love with a girl since she was banned from falling in love with men. I hate the assumption that teen girls are constantly looking for love if they’ve never had it. I’ve had plenty of friends that have gone through both high school and middle school single, and have been perfectly happy. In fact, it has helped to keep them focused. Therefore, this “need for love” with Camellia was disappointing, but it did fit the character that she had been given.
I think that the secrets were interesting, but I did want a bit more expansion upon them. However, I do understand that this was the first book in the series, and I will definitely be reading the next book in this series to find out what happens.
Lastly, for people who did read the Belles, I want to ask. Do you remember the girl at the beginning the novel who did not want to be made beautiful? What do you think happened to her? I think that will definitely be expanded upon in the next novel.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a well-paced and unique fantasy read. However, if you are very particular about your plots, then maybe skip this one. If you are just looking for a fun read, then go on ahead!
Overall Rating: 3.5/5