Disclosure, this book was sent free for review, and amazon link is affiliate.
This is the second book in Dhonielle Clayton’s series that began last year with The Belles. (If you haven’t read the first book, I suggest you stop here and bob off and get it. Otherwise I’m likely to spoil you for the first book, and that would be a huge shame.)
The Belles set the scene for a version of New Orleans like nothing you’ve ever begun to imagine. The world building is multi layered, with a whole society brought together, including politics, magic and the central characters, the Belles who control magic that allows them to refashion humans from manner to looks. This talent is in high demand as the natural state of individuals, the Gris, is to have grey skin, wild hair and red eyes, and remaining that way is a short cut to madness.
It’s a strongly female led society with a queen, and a couple of princesses, one of whom is desperately ill. At the beginning of the first book we drop our teenage protagonists into the middle of all of this, and soon it becomes apparent that there’s a political power struggle going on in the palace.
In book two, the Belles are on the run.
I absolutely love the back cover of this book and the way it sets up the story.
Camellia and her sisters are Belles. Only they can make us beautiful.
All our lives, my sisters and I have served the people of Orleans.
For years, they’ve held their abilities against us. Not anymore.
Now the queen hunts us, because we know the truth about the rightful heir.
Camellia murdered our princess and fled with her sisters.
The princess is still alive, and we’ll help her take back the throne.
Together, we will return the Belles to their rightful place.
The queen wants us caged. But we will not go quietly.
Then they will give us what we deserve: beauty, everlasting.
We demand our freedom. No matter what the cost.
Beauty, obsession and magic, says the cover, and yes, all of those are involved. I love the character development particularly of Camellia, the lead character, but also in this book we get more of several of her sisters, and the rather marvellous Rémy and the growing relationship between him and the Belles.