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Camellia is a Belle, a girl with the gift of Arcana. And with her Arcana, she can turn the dullest person into the most beautiful. The Belles are seen as precious for their beauty rejuvenates while others must purchase treatments. Without the Arcana of a Belle, a person will revert to grey skin and straw hair. But only those who can pay for the exclusive treatments can be made beautiful. Every generation of Belle dreams to be the Queen’s favorite, but it isn’t just lavish living and parties. Dark secrets are lurking in the palace and truths that Camellia may wish she never found out.
The Belles takes vanity to a whole new level. As the story unfolds Dhonielle Clayton paints a world of color and majesty. Her descriptions were so vibrant and refreshing. Each new setting is brought to life for the reader and you can’t help but see how beauty has made the upper class desperate. People are constantly comparing themselves to others. Some bordered on the edges of obsession with their looks, willing to pay for daily treatments to try and become the next fashion idle.
The Belles are raised in a sheltered life and taught all the beauty laws before being shown to the people of Orleans. Watching Camellias' realization of how the world works was captured so well. And as the plot progresses, her reactions to the more horrifying aspects of her new life kept me riveted. While I suspected some of the plot points, I didn’t guess them all.
This was a fascinating read with a magic system I have never encountered before. I can’t wait to see how the story progresses. Camellia’s character development has only begun, and it has already been a worthwhile journey.
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