About the Author
Dhonielle Clayton is the author of New York Times bestseller The Belles and coauthor of the Tiny Pretty Things series. She grew up in the Washington, DC, suburbs on the Maryland side and spent most of her time under her grandmother's table with a stack of books. A former teacher and middle school librarian, Dhonielle is cofounder of CAKE Literary, a creative development company whipping up decidedly diverse books for a wide array of readers, and COO of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books. She's got a serious travel bug and loves spending time outside the USA but makes her home in New York City, where she can most likely be found hunting for the best slice of pizza. You can also find her online at www.dhonielleclayton.com or follow her @brownbookworm.
Read an Excerpt
Maman never told me what to do when the world falls apart like a dress ripped at its seams; the beads scattering into faraway corners; the fabric a storm of shredded pieces left destroyed and unrecognizable. She never told me how to battle the nightmares that creep in like icy shadows, lingering behind closed eyes. She never told me what to do when all the color leaks out of the world like blood oozing from a mortal wound.
She gave me a mirror to see truth. I clutch it, the glass warming inside my palm.
But what happens when the reflection peering back is ugly, and when all I want to do is set everything ablaze, and she's not here to help me?
The past three days are a chaotic blur, a télétrope in perpetual motion — the palace, Sophia's dungeons, Charlotte waking up, and Arabella helping us get here with false papers.
"Are you listening to me?" Edel snaps. "You've been gazing out that window for almost a full hourglass."
I don't pivot around to face her or the small boardinghouse room we've been stuffed into. I fixate on the sun as it sinks behind the row of shops across the street and watch how it turns the sky the color of a peacock's tail. Sunsets are much more beautiful this far south. It feels like the Spice Isles are at the very edge of the world and poised to float right off.
I press my nose against the frigid glass; the cold-season wind attempts to push its way through. I wish it would wrap its icy fingers around me and cool my insides. In the distance, the cluster of islands almost kisses at the Bay of Croix and the capital city of Metairie overlooks them like a huge house-lantern out at sea, drawing ships safely near. Golden bridges connect the four isles and illuminate like fireworks as evening arch-lanterns are lit. Decadent river coaches skate over the waters beneath; the light glinting off their gilded trim. Grand spice plantations stretch out in all directions with large white mansions overseeing fields of mint, lemon balm, lavender, and sage. Plant-lanterns crest over the crops, paper-thin bees carrying sunshine and nutrients.
This place feels even stranger than the palace did; so different than our home. I used to want to see every far-flung corner of this world, but now, all I think about is what it would be like to watch Orléans burn, each island turning to ash, clouds of thick smoke clogging the skies and stamping out the sun, the seas blackening from the leftover debris. Would the gods intervene?
I gaze back down at the maps littering the desk. My charts of the trade winds. My theories about how far Princess Charlotte could have gotten if she sailed west toward the Glass Isles or maybe east around the base of the imperial island.
Overcome with frustration, I throw the compass rose Rémy gave me, and it lands on the floor with an unsatisfying thud.
Edel picks it up. "Camille, I need to show you something!" She looks over my shoulder at my maps. "Come now. You don't even know if Charlotte made it out that night."
"Rémy said the queen's private schooner was spotted. Who else could it be?"
"A thief? Pirates? Some drunken courtiers who got on the wrong boat?" I scoff. "He said no one knows who was on it, and now you're putting all your hopes into a girl who was unconscious for ten years."
She touches my bare shoulder. I jump.
"Your skin's hotter than a cook stove," she says. "Are you ill?"
I want to tell her a never-ending fire burns in the pit of my stomach now; the flames fed by my rage.
"And your fingers are like ice."
I grab the compass from her and trace another potential route Charlotte might have taken, putting her north of the imperial island. "She was coughing and waking up when Amber and I rushed out."
"Let's forget Charlotte and storm the palace. We could take down Sophia ourselves."
"Then, what? Rule Orléans?"
Edel nibbles her bottom lip. "Maybe."
"If Charlotte is queen, then she can return Orléans to what it used to be. The way Queen Celeste wanted."
"I don't want to go back. I won't be in another teahouse again. I won't be forced to —"
I take her hand, and she swallows the rest of the sentence. "We need to hope. If we can find Charlotte and bring her back to the palace, she can confront her sister. She can put an this." I hold her close. "Then we will find a different way forward, a different life for us. I promise."
"Fine, fine," Edel mutters under her breath and pulls away. "But I have something more important to show you ... something that will help us when we leave this place." She's shaky and casts nervous glances at the door. "I've been waiting until we were alone."
"What is it?" I turn away from the maps.
"Watch." Edel closes her eyes, concentrating so hard she looks minutes from laying a golden egg. Veins swell beneath her white skin and a red blush sets into her cheeks. The pale blond hair at her temples soaks with sweat, and it beads across her forehead like a strand of pearls. Her hair lengthens down to her waist inch-by-inch, then turns the color of midnight.
I scramble backward, smacking into the tiny cage of sleeping teacup dragons. They squeak with alarm.
"We're not supposed to be able to do this." I put my hand over my mouth.
"I'm calling it our fourth arcana — glamour." She takes my trembling fingers and pushes them into her hair. It still maintains the same fine texture its always had, but the color is utterly unfamiliar.
"Our gifts are for others. ..." My heart flips in my chest. My arcana hums just beneath my skin, eager to learn, eager to experiment with this dangerous trick; my mind fills with a thousand possibilities.
"No. This gift ... this is for us. This is how —" Edel starts.
"We will outsmart Sophia and her guards," I interject. "And find Charlotte."
The possibility of success wedges itself down to my bones and mingles with the anger living there. I'd always built my life on doing the unexpected and wanting it all — to be the favorite, to be the most talented Belle, to shape what it meant to be beautiful in Orléans — and now I'm presented with doing the biggest thing I've ever had to do and with the risk of danger far greater than I could ever imagine. All of it breathes life into my ambition.
A full grin spreads across Edel's face. She takes a deep breath, and the dark shade of midnight in her hair lightens as if morning sun pushes through each strand.
"How did you learn to do this?"
She glances at the door. "It was an accident. Madam Alienas was yelling at me, laying out all the things I'd done wrong. She barked about how I needed to be nicer, and how she'd wished she'd gotten Valerie instead. I was twirling my hair around my finger." She lifts one of the strands. "Growing angrier and angrier, thinking of our sister, and then, it darkened to Valerie's brown shade."
"What does it feel like?" I stroke Edel's hair again, and it shrivels back to its previous shoulder length.
"Remember when we'd sneak up on the roof at home before the first snow? Our fingernails would be purple and blue. Our nightgowns would catch the wind, the fibers almost freezing."
I nod as the memory flickers through me. All of us on the roof after Du Barry and our mothers had fallen asleep, waiting for the clouds to release their crystals, waiting to catch a snowflake on our tongues, waiting to see the white mounds frost the tops of the dark forest behind our house.
"It feels cold like that. I panicked at first. I didn't think it was real. Thought my arcana was low, my eyes playing tricks on me. So I experimented with sections of my hair." She walks in circles. "Adding a wave or a highlight, and testing how long I could hold it."
My stomach flutters. Trusting untested aspects of the arcana feels like trying to harness a windstorm. "Did it make you sick?"
"Nose bleeds, headaches, the chills."
"Then maybe —"
She put a hand up, sweeping away my worries. "That lessened as I got stronger. It just takes practice. I moved from my hair to aspects of my face."
"Does it weaken you like after we've done beauty treatments?" "Yes. I use the sangsues and chocolate to help me hold a glamour and to feel better after using one." Edel takes my hand. "Quick. Let me show you."
I stretch across the thin mattress Edel, Amber, and I share. The springs dig into my back. Maman's mirror sits just under my breastbone on its chain. I press my hand to it, wanting its truth and wisdom to push down inside me, fill me up, and make me feel like Maman is still here, ready to fight alongside me. What would she think of all this? The things I've done. The things I'm about to do.
"Close your eyes," Edel directs.
A tremor pulses in my stomach.
Edel pushes my curls away from my sweaty forehead. Is this how our clients feel on our treatment tables? Tiny, exposed, vulnerable?
She takes my trembling hand. "Are you afraid?"
"Good. That will make you strong." Her soft fingers graze over my eyelids, forcing them closed. "Now, think back to when we were little girls first learning our second arcana, and Du Barry made us do all those lessons on visualizing our clients like paintings or sculptures. Remember?"
"Instead, try to see yourself."
Du Barry's childhood warnings are sharp echoes inside my head: "Belles must never be vain, for the Goddess of Beauty shall punish those who hoard their gifts. The arcana are favors from the Goddess of Beauty to be used in service."
I push her words away, bury them deep down with the rest of the lies.
Edel squeezes my shoulder. "Go back to Maison Rouge. You'll see."
I take a deep breath, let my muscles relax. Edel describes the home where we spent our entire lives until we turned sixteen last year. The pale white trees growing out of the bayou like bones, the rose-shaped bars on the house windows, the crimson-and-gold papered walls leading into the lesson rooms, the Age chambers with their terrariums of dying flowers and bowls of rotten fruit, the Aura rooms with their treatment tables and Belle-products, the nursery full of crying babies, the black forest — a shadow behind our house.
"You're tensing your muscles," Edel says, stroking my cheek. "Let the arcana wake up. Focus on that."
At the mention of the word arcana, their power throbs inside me, rising quickly to meet my request. All three skills — Manner, Aura, Age — are threads ready, able, and eager to be tugged and bent to my will.
The veins in my hands swell beneath my skin. My nerves prickle with thick energy.
"Think of your own face," Edel whispers. "Your curly hair and your high forehead. Your full lips. The shade of your skin is the brown of the almond luna pastries Rémy brought us this morning for breakfast."
When I would see clients for beauty work, a familiar warmth would race through me like someone had let a candle flame graze across my skin. But now, a deep chill settles in, replacing that feeling. My teeth chatter, and a shiver makes me jerk.
"You're all right. Keep going," Edel says. "Change your hair to match one of the crimson Belle-roses from our home solarium with petals as large as plates."
The flower sprouts beside the image of my own face in my mind. Its color bleeds into the strands of my hair, twisting around the coils like ribbons of blood. A headache erupts in my temples. My lungs tighten like I've just raced up a winding staircase.
"It's working," she says.
I sit straight up.
"Don't break your concentration."
"Why does it feel this way?" I ask, out of breath.
"I don't know. But you're doing it." Edel rustles through the beauty caisse Arabella sent with us, retrieving a small mirror, and thrusts it into my hands. "Look!" I gaze into it. The frizzy curls at the crown of my head are a deep fiery red like Amber's, like Maman's. I play with one curl and twist it around my finger to examine it more closely.
"How long does it last?" I grimace through the cold. It grips my bones, a radiating ache splintering my insides.
"As long as you can hold it in your mind and your levels stay strong. I've been able to maintain it for almost five hourglasses when I'm rested and focused," Edel boasts. "But I know if I push myself or drink Belle-rose tea or elixir, I could go longer."
"I can't concentrate anymore."
The red fades away and the brown appears once more. I crumple on the bed.
The door snaps open. Amber marches in, her presence a landquake. A nest of red hair peeks out from under her hood.
Edel stands. "You're back early."
"There were too many guards, and I lost the mask you gave me," Amber reports, then surveys the room. "What's going on?"
"Edel was just teaching me how to —" I start to say.
"Quickly refresh your arcana." Edel's eyes burn into mine.
I purse my lips and flash her a puzzled look.
"Where's Rémy?" Edel asks, taking a porcelain bowl from a nearby table and fishing out two wiggling sangsues. She wraps one leech around my wrist like a cuff, and in a whisper says, "Don't say anything."
"He's doing one of his rounds before coming upstairs." Amber rushes to the dragons' cage and lifts the blanket. They're tangled together in a pile and remind me of jeweled bracelets made of pearls, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and gold. "I brought them some pig meat and found these sweet necklaces." She dangles the jeweled collars from her fingers and sets them in front of the cage.
"Why'd you spend our money on those?" Edel snaps. "You were supposed to get hair dye for all of us."
"I did." She yanks two pot-bellied jars from her pocket and throws one at Edel.
Edel catches it.
"All she had left was evergreen."
"That's going to help us blend in," Edel replies sarcastically.
"The whole city is at a shortage of Belle-products with the teahouses shutdown. And she gave me those collars at a discount. The dragons need leashes for their training." She hands me a crumpled page. "Found this on the lobby table."
Four cameo portraits stretch across the page: Amber, Edel, Rémy, and lastly, me.
My own eyes stare out, looking haunted. The animated portrait shifts through a series of my most notable looks: one with my hair in a signature Belle-bun full of camellia flowers; another with it down and around my face in a big, curly cloud; and the last with the strands all ironed straight and resting on my shoulders. The text calls us dangerous, cunning, and traitors to the crown. Sophia has promised 850,000 leas and 275,000 spintria for our capture. That would make a person instantly one of the wealthiest individuals in all Orléans, ready to join the circle of the kingdom's finest.
wanted: alive and in good condition. suitable for use.
What does that mean? Are we cattle headed to the slaughterhouses on the Isle of Quin?
Amber places fresh food in the teacup dragon's cages, then plops down in one of the wooden chairs. "I hate this place."
Edel starts to cough. "I need water," she says.
"Are you sick?" Amber asks.
"Thirsty," Edel replies. "Can you grab some?"
"Why can't you?" Amber's eyebrows lift with suspicion.
"You always get the water. You know how to work the house pumps." They lock eyes. "Plus, I'm not dressed, and you are."
"Amber, please. The teacup dragons need some as well," I add.
She shrugs, then leaves the room.
As soon as the door closes, Edel stops coughing and turns to me. "Don't tell her about the glamours."
"Why?" I ask feeling Edel's distrust of Amber like a flash of heat.
"She's too weak to try it right now. We should wait until we know exactly how it works. We both have always been stronger and more willing to experiment than she is."
"But we'll need to show her soon." I study Edel's face.
"Of course," Edel says, avoiding my eyes. "When the time is right."CHAPTER 2
The sun hasn't risen when I sneak out of bed and dress to go out. Rémy is off on one of his nightwatch rounds. I don't bother using the cold water in our basin for fear of waking Amber and Edel. I'm getting used to the dirt. The memories of onsens full of claw-foot tubs and rose-shaped soaps and sweet oils and honey scrubs, perfume blimps leaving behind their scents, beauty-lanterns dusting us with the perfect beams of light, are clouds drifting out to sea never to be caught again.
I put in the eye-films that Arabella gave us, then blink until they settle, and I can see the small room again. We've fallen into a synchronized rhythm like the dancing koi fish that used to live in our fountain at Maison Rouge: Amber fetches fresh water from the house pumps every morning and even scrounges up small pieces of lime soap so we can make an attempt at bathing; Edel keeps the room tidy by stealing the house mistress's broom each afternoon; Rémy watches every movement in and out of the boardinghouse; and I nurse our teacup dragons, teach them how to fly, and secure our nightly meals.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Everlasting Rose"
Copyright © 2019 Dhonielle Clayton.
Excerpted by permission of Disney Book Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
** I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.** I was really intrigued by the first book in this series. The world was original in a lot of ways and the characters were interesting. While I found this book to be good, it lacked the sparkle of the first book. The belles were whiny and tiring except for Camille. She was so set in revenge that she often put those close to her in danger. Auguste was really unnecessary in this book as were several other characters that passed through. For me, there were lose ends that were hastily tied into slip knots instead of actually being finished. Not a terrible book but very similar to many 2 books. It just fell short of what I expected.
Having read an advance copy of The Belles through NetGalley, it was a pleasure reading The Everlasting Rose through NetGalley too! I loved the first book and I was so excited to continue Camille's journey and find out what happens next! While I did not like this book as much as I loved The Belles, I still really enjoyed the story and the nice conclusion to this epic, crazy journey! One thing I had an issue with was pacing. It felt a bit fast at times and I wanted it to slow down or give a bit more information as to what was going on. Besides that, this is a great read and I'm excited to read more from Dhonielle!
*3.5 Stars ***I received a free eARC of this book from Disney Book Group through Netgalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.*** This was sort of a struggle for me to get through. I was extremely confused for the first 1/3 or so because I was a little hazy on the details of the first book, and there are not many reminders dropped into the beginning of this installment, which I think would've been so helpful in getting me engaged in the story again and pulling me back into the world. Unfortunately, this book series also isn't popular enough to get a quick summary online, and I just didn't enjoy the first one quite enough to reread it. I have to be honest, I think this confusion hindered my reading experience quite a bit, so I definitely recommend reading this one fairly quickly after the first, especially as there is little to no time gap between them. In a lot of ways, this book seemed more like the middle of a trilogy than a finale. Near the end of the book, like around the last 50 pages or so, I was getting very nervous about the story wrapping up in time because there was so many loose ends to tie up. To be fair, I think the book tied up the ending fairly well, but I think there's so much more that could've been explored, especially as it is significantly shorter than the first. What this series as a whole really has going for it isn't the characters or even really the plot, which are both fine, but the pure originality of the world. The world is so unique, and even if the magic system isn't always clear cut with its rules, it is a very fascinating magic system. Overall, this is an enjoyable, dark series with flowery writing that I would recommend to some jaded fantasy fans who want something unique. This installment isn't quite as strong as the first, but it is an adequate ending to the duology. lgbtq rep: f/f relationship between side characters; m/m relationship between side character and his husband
I really enjoyed the first book of this series and I was really excited when I got the ARC from NetGalley. The author's writing is amazing and can be lyrical at times. The characters are developed more in this book than in the first one, but the pacing does suffer due to that. I am a standalone kind of person and of course, I feel that the two books could have been on beautiful tome. I would remove the pricing charts for the procedures and some of the repetitive conversations. If you enjoyed the first book then I would recommend this one to you. You will not be disappointed.
Thank you to Netgalley and Disney Book Group/Freeform for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This was a satisfying end to The Belles series - supposedly a duology, although the epilogue did suggest a continuation of the story or maybe even a spin-off. The action picks up right where The Belles left off, so I would say that this is not the type of book where you can pick up anywhere in the series - you would definitely need to read the first book first. I think that book 1 was actually a little stronger than The Everlasting Rose, although as I said, still a satisfying ending. The trademarks of The Belles remained - sharp critiques of a society obsessed with beauty, feminine power, and heart-pounding tension. Like the first book, it is incredibly readable, and is the type of book you can easily devour in an afternoon. I appreciate Clayton's approach to the YA genre - like other YA, this series is a quick read, and not too difficult to comprehend, but I find her characters to be much more bearable and mature than the typical angsty teens. There is also a romantic relationship, but it thankfully does not take over the plot like in other YA. If you read and enjoyed The Belles, then you will not want to miss the finale of that story. And if you enjoy diverse and unique fantasy that isn't too dense or heady, then give the series a try. I would also strongly recommend this series to female teen readers.
I absolutely loved The Belles. I loved the feel of the book. I loved the story message, and I loved the characters. So, why did The Everlasting Rose feel like a completely different story? The Belles was super unique and a little unpredictable. I enjoyed how the story tried to show that appearances aren't everything, and I loved that the main character fought to prove that beauty isn't just skin deep. The Everlasting Rose just didn't quite live up to it's predecessor. It had hints of that beloved message, and some of Camellia's original personality that I loved and found so fierce, but it mainly just felt lost. Also, did anyone else notice that her name was Camellia in book 1, and Camille in this book? Anyway. I wanted to know how everything ended. I wanted to see Camellia (Camille?) succeed in her mission. I was ready for a revolution. I was ready for darkness and a power struggle, but it all just seemed too easy and predictable. I guess I just felt disappointed when I finished this. Even the ending felt a little too easy to be satisfying. I mean, I loved the writing. Both books had beautiful writing. I loved the world of The Belles. I still felt like everything was detailed and vivid, and so unique, but this book just kind of felt like a quick afterthought to wrap up the story when compared to book 1. I finished it in one day, so, obviously the writing was enough to keep me going. I loved book 1 so much, I knew I needed to see it through to the end. I just wish I had loved The Everlasting Rose like I loved The Belles. I'd rate it 2.5-3 stars, but I'd definitely still read anything new from the author. Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.
This book was just as dramatic and fast-paced as The Belles! The Everlasting Rose was one of my most anticipated March releases, and it lived up to expectations! While I missed the specific concept of the previous book (the rivalry over being the Favorite and the beauty work at the palace), the world of Orléans and the Belles remained as captivating and filled with hidden dangers as ever. I would have liked to see Camille undergo more character growth, but she seemed to mature and gain resilience in this book, as well as being forced to confront her anger and need for vengeance. Dhonielle Clayton's gift for setting and atmosphere shines through in The Everlasting Rose, setting Camille's emotional, high-stakes journey up for a satisfyingly bittersweet ending. I'd recommend this novel to anyone who enjoyed The Belles. You won't be disappointed!
Thank you to Partner Netgalley for my advance copy of this novel. I loved The Belles and was so excited to read the sequel, The Everlasting Rose. Set in the dystopian world of Orléans , this novel reveals the way that quests for beauty and power can spiral out of control as the quest to become the most beautiful and most powerful gets in the way of compassion, equity, and all forms of understanding. The Belles opens in a world where most people are born gris, meaning that their natural complexion is gray, with red eyes, straw-like hair, and gray whiskers on their faces. This condition is both unattractive and painful. The only exception to this natural state is the Belles, who are born lovely with all different complexions, shapes, and demeanors, but who are all able to use the power within their blood to help others beautify themselves. The Belles are raised to beautify others, and when they come of age, that becomes their duty. In order to avoid this natural but uncomfortable state of being gray, the citizens of Orléans must have routine beauty procedures done, which can only be performed by the Belles. They pay high prices and suffer extreme pain to endure the beauty procedures. Camille Beauregard and her sisters are coming of age at the beginning of The Belles, and they become the group of Belles able to assist all of the people of Orléans, including the royal family, with these procedures. However, as Camille gets deeper into her journey, she quickly realizes that the world is not as it seems and that her talents can be misused and can cause harm. The Everlasting Rose picks up where The Belles left off, and it captivates the reader immediately. I loved the main characters in the novel and found myself swept up in their riveting adventure, rooting for them to succeed, even though they were facing staggering odds. Camellia Beauregard leads us through the complex world of the royal family as Princess Sophia makes her way toward the throne. Camille discovers that she has powers she did not realize she possessed, but she also realizes that she can be forced and manipulated into doing things that are horrendous. Her unlikely companion, Rémy, and her sister Edel, are both fascinating supporting characters with their own agendas and desires. Additionally, the teacup dragons who travel with them are so precious and fun! I love the way Clayton demonstrates the power of suggestion, the pressure to fit in, and the role of gossip and the media in what shapes society. I also love her commentary on the way that subliminal messages and peer pressure can lead us all to feel that there is some kind of artificial beauty ideal that we should achieve-- and that the pursuit of that false ideal can destroy us or cause us to destroy others. Camille's courage, determination, loyalty, and resolute unwillingness to back down make her the kind of woman I hope to be and hope for my daughters to be. She is ready to bring about change, and she faces the uncertain future with resilience and passion. In short, I cannot wait for Book Three!
Everything I could've ever wanted and more from this sequel. Writing that gave me chills, characters I want to hug and strangle at the same time, and a plot that left me gasping more than once. Dhonielle Clayton left me reeling with The Belles and I couldn't have asked for anything better from Everlasting Rose. Forever recommend this series and in love with the writing.