In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia's Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies-a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely-and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider's Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans.
The Everlasting Rose (The Belles #2)Featured
satisfying conclusion to a fascinating duology
In a world where beauty is a currency, the Belles are special, gifted with beauty and the power to bestow beauty on others. As we learned in the first book, their job is really a forced duty with people looking for ways to abuse their abilities. They have no choice in the matter. THE EVERLASTING ROSE picks up right where the first book left off, with Camille, Edel, and Amber, three of the Belles, on the run with Remy, a soldier and potential love interest.
Camille is forced deep into hiding while the world is changing. With Sophia at the realm and claiming her sister is dead, she is changing things in the kingdom for the worse. She also appears to be doing nefarious things with the Belles who she has. This book avoids a lot of world-building and background information with only what is necessary included, and as such, it is best read after the first book/does not function as a stand-alone.
What I loved: This whole series is fascinating. In an often beauty-obsessed culture, this book takes it to the next level and exposes the sometimes absurdity of the beauty obsession. The themes are really interesting and could spark some good discussions. The writing flows really well, and the plot completely pulls you in to the story. I eagerly awaited this second book, and overall, it did feel like a satisfying conclusion.
What left me wanting more: The pacing in the book felt a bit off where it was very slow in parts (particularly the beginning) and then really fast in others. I would have liked more information and building with the Iron Ladies who seemed to rush through the story. Additionally, some elements felt a little thrown in at times- mainly, the romance which was pieced here and there and the confrontations with characters from the previous book (I will not give details to avoid spoilers). I felt like the book would be about the same without the romance, and either would have liked the relationship to be more strongly built or left out. I also would have liked to know more about the truths of this world, including where the Belles come from (this is a common plot point, but I am not sure we ever got the full answer), and the extent of their abilities, the knowledge of which is growing in this book. The ending, while satisfying, felt a little rushed with a lot of buildup and then an abrupt series of quick events.
Final verdict: This duology is really fascinating and deals with some interesting themes. The characters are well built and the world mostly fleshed out. In this satisfying conclusion, we follow the Belles and Camille on their road to rebellion. I would certainly recommend this series for lovers of YA fantasy and dystopian.
An ultimately satisfying conclusion to a clever duology
THE EVERLASTING ROSE picks up where THE BELLES left off, with Camille, Edel, and Remy on the run. Sophia is determined to hunt them down and erects a special prison to keep all the Belles in called the Everlasting Rose. Camille has to figure out how to get Princess Charlotte safely on the throne, protect her sisters, decide whether or not the mysterious Iron Ladies can be trusted, and manage to live another day while on the run.
What I Loved:
Dhonielle Clayton is a master at crafting beautiful, lush descriptions in her writing. While the first book in the duology focused more on describing the beauty work Camille and her sisters did, this one describes more of the surroundings and Gris people, matching the edgier tone of the story.
With Camille on the run, the tension levels are high. You're never sure who is trustworthy, who has their own agenda, and who sincerely wants to help. There aren't as many twists in the plot this time, but the ones that we get are perfectly timed and gasp-worthy.
What Left Me Wanting More:
While we get some answers around the Belles' history, there is a lot left unanswered or unclear. If this had been a longer series, I would have expected the answers to come later, but as a conclusion, it was left to be desired. However, if there is ever a prequel or spin off exploring more of this world, I will absolutely be buying it.
In general, THE EVERLASTING ROSE felt rushed. Given it's around 100 pages less than the first book, this isn't too surprising. In particular, the end came together quite quickly and didn't leave as much room for the full emotional experience.
While I didn't enjoy this as much as I did THE BELLES, THE EVERLASTING ROSE is an ultimately satisfying conclusion to a clever duology.