Welcome to the blog tour for Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles! Check out our review and make sure you enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of your own:
Set in a world where people are born with gray skin and only the Belles have the ability to create beauty, their skills come at a price. When Camellia Beauregard makes her debut as a Belle in Orléans, she is quickly drawn into the secrets behind the beauty of court life. Navigating deceit at every turn, Camellia has to decide who she can trust with the challenges that come her way. And when the Queen begs her to help save her firstborn daughter, Camellia is forced to reckon with the strengths, and weaknesses, of her powers.
Dhonielle Clayton makes her mark as a master worldbuilder in The Belles. The novel starts by diving straight into the magical, dangerous world of the Belles at their debut in Orléans and doesn’t back down. With rich, intricate descriptions and spellbinding detail, readers are left with a fully-developed world just waiting to be explored. The world of Orléans feels real, yet also darkly alluring and intriguing.
Camellia is immediately thrust into the hustle, bustle, and demands of the Orléans court, her magic on display from the beginning. I loved Camellia’s character; she is determined, smart, and headstrong, perhaps a little more than is good for her in court. She is relatable for many reasons – whether it’s Camellia’s desire to protect her sisters, remembering her late mother, or the internal struggle that surfaces during many of Camellia’s challenges. You can’t help but root for her as she’s put through hellish trial after trial.
The side characters are also fantastic. Camellia’s sisters have such different personalities and even though they don’t get a ton of page time, they’re always present as an influence on Camellia. Princess Sophia is a piece of work and one of those characters you can’t help but love to hate. The Queen is difficult to get a read on, but her mysterious presence helps to pull the story forward. Each side character plays a role in the mysteries that develop as the plot progresses.
While it’s a slow build to reach the heart of the plot – largely due to the intensive worldbuilding packed in at the beginning– once you get there, you won’t want to put this book down. Clayton has crafted twists and turns that you won’t see coming and crescendos to a powerful, suspenseful ending. Be prepared for a book hangover – you’re going to want book two immediately!
The Belles is an incredible diverse fantasy novel to share with YA readers of all backgrounds.
About the book:
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 the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia faces an impossible decision.
With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
About the author:
Dhonielle Clayton (“Dhon” like “Don” or “Dawn”) spent most of her childhood under her grandmother’s dining room table with a stack of books.
She hails from the Washington, D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side, but now lives in New York City. She was an extremely fussy and particular child with an undying love for Cheerios (honey nut only), pink lemonade, and frosted animal cookies. A self-proclaimed school nerd, she loved covering her books with brown paper and filled her locker with Lisa Frank stickers. She loved putting headings on her homework, odd-looking pens and freshly sharpened pencils, and numerous notebooks to fill with her research. On most Saturdays you could find her with her equally nerdy Dad at Crown Books and then the comic bookstore where she stocked up on her weekly reading material. Plus, she was so spoiled that her grandfather took her to the library after school almost daily.
She attended Our Lady of Good Counsel High School because her parents thought Catholic school would keep her out of trouble. She went to Wake Forest University, and studied pre-med until she received a fateful F in Chemistry. This setback prompted her to change her major to English, and earned a BA. She rediscovered her love of children’s fiction by re-reading Harriet the Spy, which pushed her to earn an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University and an MFA Writing for Children at the New School.
She taught secondary school for several years – at a pre-professional ballet academy and a private K-8 school. She spent most of her twenties in and out of America – living in London, Paris, a small Japanese town, Bermuda – and wandering the planet. She’s been on five out of seven continents, and has grand plans to reach all of them.
She is a former elementary and middle school librarian, and co-founder of CAKE Literary, a creative kitchen whipping up decadent – and decidedly diverse – literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction readers. She is also COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books.
What’s next? She will be enrolling in culinary school in New York City and plans to open up a restaurant in the city of her soul, Edinburgh, Scotland.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE BELLES, US Only. Ends on February 20th at Midnight EST!
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