After The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton came out, I was thrilled that I was granted an ARC of Everlasting Rose which is published on March 5th. While there were parts I thoroughly enjoyed, there were more that fell flat.
First, I really thought Camille’s story arc was amazing. She was no longer the bitter moping girl from most of The Belles. She was strong and ready to continue the path laid before her at the end of the first book. She knew what she must do, and she was ready to do so no matter the cost. Camille had found her purpose and the strength to see it through.
Thank you to NetGalley and Freeform Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Second, I loved that other groups and people rose up alongside Camille to set things right. A rebellion sympathizer group called The Iron Ladies and newspaper called The Spider’s Web, her sister Edel and bodyguard Remy (and her new beau but I will get to that in a moment).
The in-depth background and lore of how, and why Orleans became obsessed with beauty while zealots twisted the Belles into fitting their agenda is both powerful and insightful. Armed with this knowledge the metaphors into slavery became more poignant as the outer facade of Orleans falls.
Queen Sophia becomes hellbent on Belles being replicated, bought and sold to the highest bidder; enslaved for their magical abilities.
Here is where the story left me wanting more. The Iron Ladies are a powerful group of women with dogged determination, but we just don’t get enough of them or about them. “The Revolution is Here” is a captivating tagline for Everlasting Rose. The Iron Ladies encapsulate that resistance and yet their appearance feels too little, too late.
Remy. I have no issue with her bodyguard taking up arms in the rebellion against Queen Sophia. I even applaud the choice of a male figure that would do so. However, the romantic relationship with Camille takes away from the impact of his choice. Let his choice be because he sees the egregious nature of what is happening and that alone. Nothing else should be the precipice for his choice. The relationship feels unnecessary and forced. I have said this recently in another review. Not every book needs a romantic relationship. Everlasting Rose is one of them. The very theme of the book rails against the idea of it (not that women don’t need romantic relationships, just not in this context). Let men stand and fight with women against this stereotype of beauty and the themes of how women are oppressed, and classification. However, have men that lift them up solely out of belief and not lust or love.
Lastly, the pacing is way off. Most of the book Camille is just wandering around looking for her sisters. I get it. She wants to protect them but at the same time Queen Sophia and the wealthiest citizens are committing craven acts.
At least bring in The Iron Ladies along the way or have her find them sooner, or something, anything. The way the plot unfolds Camille is just hiding out for most of the book.
Once the action does start there isn’t that much book left. The climax and resolution are incredibly rushed. It is underwhelming and disappointing. So much time is wasted up front that could have been used for this ultimate stand-off.
There are so many things to like about Everlasting Rose that feel unfulfilled by a poor structure. I loved the Belles and ultimately am glad I read Everlasting Rose. Anyone who loved the Belles will enjoy Everlasting Rose.
The timely themes around slavery, classification, society’s value on beauty and the treatment of women day in, day-out is reason enough to celebrate this duology.
Story wise, it will bring closure to the duology, the cliffhanger at the end of The Belles, and really allow everyone to cheer on Camille’s growth overtime.