Sometimes books just get it spot on. They bring something new and fresh to your bookshelves, while also being incredibly thought provoking.
Most recently, I got to experience that joy while reading The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton.
It is one of the more creative YA fantasies that I have read in a while. In this world, beauty is a magic commodity in a world where everyone is born grey. Only the Belles have the power to alter someone’s appearance. As such, they are desperately sought after. Camellia is a Belle and keen to be the royal favourite. It is rarely simple however and she swiftly realises that her job as a Belle is far less glamorous – and way more dangerous – than she imagined.
The Belles is full of vibrant and likeable characters (and a fair few unlikeable ones too) who you are keen to discover more about. I was invested in Camellia and her sister from the very first chapter. I desperately wanted to find out more about them and I still do – I really, really hope a sequel is in the works.
With all that thrown in, I was extra impressed to discover that The Belles also doesn’t shy away from the big stuff. As well as being a great fantasy, it is a potent look at our unrealistic beauty aspirations and the way we put way too much stock on it. It was handled sensitively but was ultimately thought provoking and had a big influence on me. As a result, I can’t wait to read some more of Dhonielle Clayton’s work as soon as I get the chance.
If it is anything like The Belles, I’m sure I will love it.