Okay, to be fair, I think a lot of kids would LOVE this one. It was exciting and twisty all the way through. The main character was a lot of fun. I couldn’t put the book down as I was reading it, even though I had quibbles with it here and there. But it pulled the same garbage at the end as the Queen’s Thief series does, and I just can’t stand that. If you don’t mind a twist involving the viewpoint character knowing something he doesn’t divulge at any point in the story, you’ll probably like this one too.
An annoyingly selfish rich young woman is cursed by a wizard after she rejects his advances (which irritated me because she had every right to) in a particularly selfish and cruel way (which, okay, she could have done it in a much more considerate manner). He curses her that she will be as cold as her heart and followed by death. At first I was not on board much because I didn’t buy that her heart was icy cold, even if she did seem childish and selfish. But I soon got caught up in the implications of the curse: she is always shiveringly cold, everywhere she stays for more than a few minutes starts to develop a snowstorm, and anyone who touches her will be injured by her cold. She’s run out of town, and she struggles to survive on her own in the mountains until she finds a better purpose for her life and her curse. Meanwhile, Death visits her from time to time, trying to entice her to “come with him.” And it was kinda cool, and I did like the eventual romance quite a bit, but it felt sort of uneven, sort of unconvincing at times. Definitely felt like a first novel.
YA. I could not put this down. It was gripping and beautifully written and creepy as heck. Camellia Beauregard is a Belle, one of a few women in the entire kingdom of Orleans who is naturally beautiful and who can bestow temporary beauty on others. Everyone else is “gris,” with gray skin, red eyes, and gray, straw-like hair. So of course everyone “needs” a Belle, making Belles very well-respected and important. Camellia is extremely talented, and she longs to be chosen as the favorite, the one Belle who serves the royal family. But twists and turns ensue, and not everything is as it seems. Half dystopia, half lush fantasy with a great villain, The Belles was almost 5 stars. But . . . the end was only okay, and everything else suffered in retrospect. I’m definitely reading the sequel when it comes out. I believe this was a debut book, and it just came out in February 2018, so I imagine things will only get better from here.
Spoiler: I guessed the main twists, which I was hoping I was wrong about. I got to the end and thought, “Huh. I guess I was right. Okay.” Also, I really struggled to understand why the MC wouldn’t just use her gifts to kill the villain once she realized she could. I mean, yeah, murder is terrible and all that, but this villain was BAD. I wanted it at least addressed, and it wasn’t. I actually think there could be room for a different villain stepping in if the first one died quickly in the first book, so doing that wouldn’t have ruined the series. I don’t know.
Also, some parts are problematic (bury-your-gays trope). I recommend reading Goodreads reviews if you’re concerned.
I love this book. It’s just all the things I want a book to be. It’s YA but approachable to late tweens and early teens, I’d say. A lady’s maid is locked in a tower with her lady because the lady refuses to marry a horrible man, claiming she’s already engaged to another lord. The lady’s father, enraged, says he will keep her there for seven years or until she changes her mind. Anyway, the lady turns out to have . . . issues, the horrible man has an even more horrible secret, the lord the lady is engaged to is super swoony (if a little too perfect), you get the idea. I love the character arc of the main character, and actually also of the lady she serves.
One of my favorite books of the year. What I found interesting is that this is written in 3rd omniscient, which everyone tells modern authors to avoid, yet it’s absolutely the right thing for the book. It’s a fantasy that felt a little bit Coraline, a little bit ’80s fantasy movie, a little bit fairy tale. Beautifully written. It does start a little slow, but stick with it. My oldest son read it and liked it as well.