Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.
But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined.
The world of Orleans is vastly original the idea of the magic system is what drew me to this, it was as wonderful as I’d hoped it would be. The writing is beautiful but at times too flowery, there are too many overly descriptive passages on hair and rooms. The world is very dark and it grows darker as the story progresses, the villain is obsessed with being the most beautiful and simply pure evil. I thought they were well done, all of their scenes are intense, I simultaneously wanted and didn’t want to know what they were about to do.
I thought Camila would be an unlikable protagonist, obsessed with becoming the favorite but it turns out she’s not what I wanted or expected. Camila wants to make people love themselves she wants to improve the world, she’s more kind and empathetic then anyone else in this world. Despite having admirable qualities I oftentimes found her aggravating. The other Belles are ushered out of the story early on, their only in a few scenes not enough for any development, I would like to see more of them in the next book.
I didn’t think there was any real chemistry between Camila and the love interest every scene between them was both boring and frustrating. I think he should have been cut from the book, the plot would only have needed to be slightly tweaked, and I would have enjoyed it a lot more. There are two scenes that I’m not sure are necessary they seem more for shock value then anything else. One of them definitely could have been removed without greatly effecting the plot. I have no idea how many books are going to be in this series I think everything could be sufficiently wrapped up with just one more book. I am definitely interested in seeing where the story goes.