Huge thanks to Gollancz for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
Publication date: March 7th 2019
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.
To celebrate the release of the sequel to the hugely popular 2018 book "The Belles", Gollancz have organised a blog tour of reviews. Don't forget to look out for the other reviews this week! I really loved "The Belles" so I jumped at the chance to take part, and was incredibly excited to find out what happens next to Camille, Edel, and Remy.
This was a good follow up novel - Clayton takes the world and characters she introduced us to in the first, and builds on that foundation to provide an exciting conclusion. Camille particularly becomes a more interesting protagonist, fueled by her anger from the events of the first book. However, I would have liked to see her grapple with more inner conflict. Yes she was fighting for what was right, but she never really has any inner turmoil to overcome, which at times can be slightly frustrating, as you're only ever given her own thoughts and feelings to experience.
The first half of the story takes its time, which slows the pacing down hugely. After the cataclysm of events at the end of the first book, I really wanted to drive straight back in, not hold back for as long as the story does. This lack of urgency, and a general feeling of the characters succeeding at all they attempt, means that there are points where the emotional resonance I'd hope for is missing, and I found myself coasting through some parts, rather than being fully engaged.
That said, you get an exciting (albeit slightly rushed) ending that really pays off a lot of the build up. I had a few minor gripes about how some things ended, but those are for a more spoiler filled review at a later date.
I'm really hoping that Clayton is going to give us a spin off book about the Iron Ladies, because I didn't feel like we got nearly enough time with them and I'd love to know more about them.
This is a solid conclusion to the story, one that offers some more insights into this curious world, and leaves you feeling pretty satisfied with the final act. I was a little disappointed with some elements, but this duology is still definitely one I'd recommend. If you've yet to read The Belles, pick up a copy as soon as you can! And if you read and enjoyed it last year, this conclusion is worth the wait.