I have really been dragging my feet on getting this review written mostly because I had such high expectations for it but ended up being quite disappointed. I'll start with the few things I liked.
- The setting is lush and so easily visualized thanks to the descriptive language.
- The premise is unique
- The references to several fairy/folk tales made me feel like I was really clever when I connected the dots and figured out the subtext.
- I found myself imagining what it would be like to be able to alter your appearance so radically fairly easily (although painfully, apparently).
- The deeper subtexts of the desire for beauty at all costs AND the enslavement of people and their differing stations depending on how useful they are to the people in charge.
- Yes, the language is descriptive but it was overly so for me and began to feel like padding. I found it over the top and then, annoying.
- I could not get invested in any of the characters. Camellia was not a great friend to Amber and she was not all the swift when it came to figuring out what was happening in the palace nor in making a decision about her course of action. I wanted a stronger protagonist, someone I could root for. Whatever sort of feeling I was having for her was then permanently squashed when she and Amber used their Belle powers in a competition with disastrous results. I think I was supposed to be mad at the person who set up this situation, but Camellia knew the score by then and still played along. But then was shocked by the results.
- The villain was too much for me for too long. Her sadism was clearly illustrated and then it was shown again with another horrible scene. And then another. I get it already. It reminded me of Ramses Bolton on Game of Thrones and Ramses was the character that almost made me stop watching because I didn't need to see more horrors to understand that he's a bad dude.
- The plot "twists" were not so twisty for me, especially the revelation at the end about the elder princess. That just made me angry that no one had ever thought to check on that before because, come on!!