The Belles

The Belles, the first book in Dhonielle Clayton's (Tiny Pretty Things) new series, begins with the origin story of Orléans: the God of the Sky and the Goddess of Beauty fell in love and had children. Beauty spent so much time with their human offspring that the God of the Sky grew jealous and cursed his children "with skin the color of a sunless sky, eyes the shade of blood, hair the texture of rotten straw, and a deep sadness." Beauty, unable to undo the curse, "sent the Belles to... bring beauty back to the damned world."

Camellia has just turned 16. "For any normal girl that would mean raspberry and lemon macarons and tiny pastel blimps.... Maybe even a teacup elephant." But for Camellia and her sisters, it is their debut: today is the Beauté Carnaval, when the new batch of Belles is introduced. All six young women will display their skills, painfully reshaping a child until she is a shining example of the unusual beauty only a Belle can produce. All six will be given work placements, but only one will be chosen as the Queen's favorite. Camellia is determined to be that one. But Orléans is not what she expected. Raised in seclusion, the Belles are naïve, unaware of the dangers they will face. The "blood of the Goddess of Beauty" runs in their veins and the desperate-to-be-beautiful people of Orléans will do anything to gain access to that blood.

Clayton's world dazzles, so sensually descriptive that the simple act of reading feels like a luxury. It is a world in which beauty can be bought, but achieved only through significant pain; a world so alluring, readers may be unable to leave it behind, even after the turn of the final page. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor

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