‘I am a Belle. I control beauty.’
I received a copy of The Belles in exchange for an honest review, and I cannot tell you enough how priveliged I feel to get to read this beautiful book before its release date on 8th February, and to experience the dark, decadent world of Orléans.
The Belles are nurtured and brought up to learn how to control beauty – how to smooth away not only wrinkles but tempers, to change eye colour, hair colour, alter the very shape of a person’s bones and the colour of their skin. This is a dangerous gift in a world that values the materialistic and aesthetic above all else, and the story begins with the Belles performing for the Queen, competing for a place as the revered royal Belle.
The language is rich and musical, Clayton has a fresh and light way with descriptions, often conjuring the taste of cakes, sweets and other delicacies as you devour this wonderful book. The world she has built extends beyond one book, and I hope we see a sequel in the near future. The plot is fast paced and accelerates towards the end in perfect timing with the main character’s arc, so you feel as if you are right there with her as her dreams begin to unravel and fall apart.
I would highly recommend that this book be read by anyone and everyone over the age of 12, it has some really important messages about diversity, bullying, how we perceive others, and how we perceive and value ourselves. It’s the kind of book that follows you around after you’ve finished the final page, tugging at your attention as you recall the plot and the language.
A truly stunning debut from an author who is now very high on my to-watch list!