I am thrilled that today is my day on the blog tour for The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton! I really enjoyed The Belles last year, so I was very interested in seeing how the story was resolved in The Everlasting Rose. Many thanks to Patricia at Gollancz for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
Camellia Beaureguard is a Belle. She can make you beautiful. Though there is always a cost. With a price on her head, the evil Queen Sophia out for blood, and no idea who to trust, Camellia must race against time to find the ailing Princess Charlotte, who has disappeared without a trace. Sophia’s imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep Camellia, her sister Edel, and her loyal guard, Rémy, from returning Charlotte to the palace and her rightful place as queen. With the help of a secretive resistance movement called the Iron Ladies – a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely – and the backing of underground newspaper the Spider’s Web, Camellia must use her powers, her connections, and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orléans.
So, I actually think The Everlasting Rose is the better book of the series. I did enjoy The Belles, but it had a lot of setting up to do. Clayton is excellent at building her world, don’t get me wrong, but it can slow the plot down, so it was nice to be able to jump straight in to the action. And oh boy, do we jump straight in. The Everlasting Rose starts more or less where The Belles left off, with Camille, Edel, Amber and Remy in hiding from the despotic new queen. There’s very few reminders of what happened in the first book, so you really do need to read that one first if you want the faintest idea of what’s happening!
Having said that we get straight into the action, I don’t want you to think that the worldbuilding is lacking, because it isn’t. We get to visit a lot more of this world this time around, and all of it is stunningly described. We also get to find out more of the history of the world and where the Belles came from, and there’s definitely a part of me that hopes we might one day see a prequel covering this in more detail.
I loved that Camille’s primary motivation was to get the people she loved out of danger. The fact that that involved overthrowing a evil queen was definitely just a side show for her, but it showed us the main facets of her character very easily. It was interesting to see how her situation had changed – now in possession of knowledge she didn’t really want, she has to shoulder a lot of responsibility, and she doesn’t want to let her burden rest on her friends and sisters as well. I also liked that it was Edel we spent most time with, because she was a complete contrast to Camille.
I did think it sagged a little bit in the middle, and I would have liked to have seen more of the Iron Ladies and how they envision the future actually coming to pass, given that their ideas are very different from the way things currently are. But overall I thought it was well paced and definitely a page-turner – I raced through it in a couple of hours because I needed to see what happened, and I found the ending very satisfying. If you enjoyed The Belles, you’ll definitely enjoy The Everlasting Rose!