Review: The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
Published by Hachette Australia
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With a price on her head, the evil Queen Sophia out for blood, and no idea who to trust, Camellia Beaureguard, the former favorite Belle, 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 Camille, her sister Edel, and her loyal guard, Rémy, from returning Charlotte to the palace 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 halt her attempt to restore peace to Orléans. But enemies lurk in the most unexpected places, forcing Camille to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice to save her people.
I’m one of those terrible readers who gets very excited about a book and then leaves it to become buried in the TBR pile for months if not years. I picked up my copy of The Everlasting Rose at the Sydney Writers Festival early last year when I was volunteering for one of the school days, and so was lucky enough to hear Dhonielle Clayton speak and get my copy signed. If you ever get a chance to see her talk, particularly about her motivations with the series, I highly recommend doing so.
The Everlasting Rose is the sequel to Dhonielle Clayton's opulent young adult fantasy book, The Belles. If you haven't read The Belles, you should definitely pick it up (you can see my review here).
I finally picked it up earlier this year, and was not at all disappointed. The Everlasting Rose is full of all the elements that made The Belles so excellent. The writing is well crafted, balancing action and relationships with vivid descriptions of the world of Orleans. Clayton is incredible at building anticipation and pacing information reveals for the reader. She also does a great job of building on the relationships from the first book, as well as introducing new characters, with loads of twists and complications.
Through the story Camille is on the run, uncertain of who can be trusted; she's trying to determine the best way forward, keep those she cares about safe and possibly overthrow the monarchy. While the gorgeous writing is my favourite part of these books, I really enjoyed the fast paced plot, and loved the relational aspects. In particular, I thought the complexity of the Belles as ‘sisters’ was a really interesting aspect.
Throughout the story, Camille continues to find out more information about the true history of the Belles and their sisterhood, which adds layers to Clayton’s critique of society’s obsession with beauty. I like that she doesn’t offer obvious answers, but prompts serious questions over why certain traits are valued over others, and what that means for people.
This absolutely reads like the last book in a series, so I am taking it as such. I haven’t been able to see any info online about further books - apart from an unnamed third book on Goodreads that doesn’t look official - so I am going to take it as a complete series. If there does end up being another book that will be an unexpected bonus. They work really well as a duology, and have a very satisfying ending, that still leaves a little room for potential future stories.
I highly recommend reading both The Belles and The Everlasting Rose for an indulgent fantasy world full of character and hidden depths.
You can find Dhonielle Clayton online via her website, on Instagram or Twitter.