There was a lot of hype around this book and I was looking forward to reading it after it made a lot of anticipated reads I knew I had to get my hands on it.
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 now 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.
The cover of this book is absolutely incredible and eye-catching. There is no way I wouldn't have picked this up and when I saw it on Twitter I instantly wanted to know more. Reading the blurb and the hype was so infectious it made me want this book too. So, I had a look at the blurb and then requested it on NetGalley. I never expected to actually get approved - but I did.
I am very conflicted about this story. The character development was great, it had a diabolical villain and awesome plot twists. However, the pacing was super slow, and the world building could have been a lot better.
Although we have a great overview of the world and how the Arcana works, there's very little structure which allowed for fragmented imagery in my mind. Some of the descriptions were overly reptitive too.
Overall this was a good book which gave me mixed feelings and and didn't blow me away.