Will I Continue? Mash-up Review: The Belles and The Cruel Prince

Hey y’all! I’m trying to catch up on my perpetually long list of reviews so I thought I would do a mash-up review of two hyped YA fantasy series.  Today I will be talking about The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and see if I will indeed be continuing in these series.

The Belles (The Belles #1)

The Belles is about a world where everyone is born grayscale and beauty is a precious commodity.  The Belles are a group of young women who have the power to not only change the outer beauty of other but can also change their temperament. Camilla Beauregard has wanted nothing more than to be the queens favorite which makes her the top Belle in all of Orleans. But is being the favorite all it’s cracked up to be?

The setting is set in a New Orleans inspired world. The world building was vivid and beautiful. I could see the colors and the people.  I understood what was happening and if I didn’t there was a helpful map.  Camilla Beauregard could have been a truly terrible character but she wasn’t.  I enjoyed her story arc and the things that she had to face to get where she was going. The moral dilemma’s were fleshed out and I didn’t always agree with her decisions but I could appreciate them towards the end. The messages that Clayton intertwines in the story never felt heavy-handed or forced upon me. Clayton discusses the price of beauty, slavery, and challenges beauty standards in an abstract and interesting way. The pacing of this novel definitely made it a page turner.

What I didn’t enjoy about this book is that I felt not a whole lot happened. There were points when chunks of the book felt like setup for the sequel(s) which is fine but I still don’t think I full understood the Belles magic during the entire book or the actual origin of the Belles themselves. This became frustrating to me at points. The romance in the book was not frustrating but I did kind of see the twist with the romance coming and I have an idea where all of that is going.

Will I Continue?……..Probably.  I think this may have fallen a little flat for me because I read a lot of fantasy and this felt very beginner. The writing and pacing were excellent and the author’s note at the end really resonated with me. Beauty standards are something that should definitely be discussed and I did enjoy the way that Clayton tackled these things. The potential of where things could go have me really interested.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black is the story of Jude and her two sisters, one older and one is her twin. Their mother and father are killed and they are swept to the Fae world with their parent’s killer, who is the father of Jude’s oldest sister. Jude is a mortal but wants nothing more than to gain respect from the fae who think less of her. Jude has the attention of one of the fae princes and it is not necessarily the best thing.

The political intrigue in this book was great. I enjoy a fantasy book with a lot of underhanded deals and double-crossing. Makes the plot super interesting. I also enjoyed the world. I do enjoy a dark fae story and I felt that Holly Black really knows her stuff when it comes to this. The fae elements felt authentic and I felt that. The character development was okay overall. Jude’s story arc was good and she became less insufferable as the book went on.  By the end I really enjoyed her and I was rooting for her. For some of the other characters namely Jude’s twin Taran, I can’t say that I completely understood her motivations for what she did (and if you’ve read the book, you know what she did).

My problem with the book lay with the fact that the elements I enjoyed didn’t happen until the last third of the book. The first 2/3’s of the book felt like nothing happened. It was a slow reading experience for me and then when I got to the last third I flew through it in an evening. In the first parts of the book there were things that happened that I could mark as significant but nothing came of them until the last third. It made the pacing a little off for me. Also, the romance made me roll my eyes. I saw it coming from a mile away and yet I still didn’t buy into it. I did not see Jude’s motivation for wanting to be with the particular person she was into. Can we talk about Taran’s decision that she made? Again, this was something else that I had figured out before the reveal and I still did not understand her motivations for doing it.

So, Will I Continue?……….Eventually. I think this book was a product of the hype surrounding it. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t hate this book in the least, however, even with the cliffhanger-y ending, I’m not just dying for the next book.

So these are two very talked about new YA series and my thoughts on them. Have you read these? What are your thoughts on them? Let’s chat in the comments.

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Much Love,

Tasha

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