You know that feeling when you get a book that you’ve been waiting on, from an author you really respect, and you snuggle in to read it knowing it’s going to be great?
You know that soul crushing feeling when the book ultimately disappoints you?
That is The Belles: The Everlasting Rose.
This is so stinking hard for me to write – honestly. Because I respect this author, Dhonielle Clayton, so so much. Her work to encourage writers of color and force the industry to take a look at forced versus real ethnic representation in novels is so important. I want nothing more than to sing her praises. Which I do in this review of The Belles.
But this novel, devastatingly, falls short. It truly doesn’t even feel like it was written by the same author and if it was, it just feels like it was a rushed mess.
What I didn’t like:
Nothing really happened, like, at all. The first third of the book really is just three characters scampering from one building to another “on the run”.
The romance that was slow building and just-maybe-there at the end of The Belles suddenly transformed into a mega romance overnight … even though we simply pick up where The Belles left off.
Absolutely zero character development. The characters were as flat as pancakes here and it broke me because I wanted to know more about Camiella, Edel, and Remy.
Loose ends everywhere and no real concrete conclusion.
What I did like:
This was definitely a darker take to the lush, opulent beauty of the first book. Exposing discussion on class, power and privilege of the few.
I still really love Dhonielle’s commentary on what is beauty?, what is the price for beauty?, who makes these decisions?, what is genuine in a world where everything can be bought?
This steam punk meets Marie Antionette world
That’s about it … maybe the tiny teacup dragons? …
Usually I am all over books that pad their page count unnecessarily but I feel like Everlasting Rose could’ve used some more pages … but then again, considering how half-effort this felt it might’ve just prolonged the torture. Overall it just felt rushed, ideas went no where, nothing was concluded in any satisfying way, characters didn’t grow, and nothing really new was touched upon here from the first book.
While the first book was well thought out, this just felt like an afterthought.