Today we’re excited to reveal not only the cover for The Beauty Trials by Dhonielle Clayton, but new paperback covers for the first two books in the Belles series! The cover art is by Katt Phatt, and the cover design is by Zareen Johnson. All three books will be released on February 14, 2023 by Disney-Hyperion. Preorder here: The Belles, The Everlasting Rose, The Beauty Trials. Read on for an exclusive Q&A with Dhonielle!
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.
But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land.
But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.
With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide: save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles, or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
The Everlasting Rose
In this sequel to the New York Times best-selling novel, The Belles, Camellia Beauregard, the former favorite Belle, must race against time to find the ailing Princess Charlotte, who has disappeared without a trace. The evil queen 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 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.
Nothing is what it seems in this must-read sequel to the instant New York Times best-seller.
The Beauty Trials
Sophia, the dangerous and erratic former queen, has been imprisoned, restoring peace to Orléans. Now her sister, Charlotte, sits on the throne and has decided to invoke the ancient tradition of the Beauty Trials—a series of harrowing tests meant to find the true ruler of Orléans. Edel, who has always aspired to be more than a Belle, decides to enter and, after promising to bind her arcana to keep from having an unnatural advantage, joins a few dozen other hopefuls intent on becoming the next Queen of Orléans.
But the Trials are far worse than any of them bargained for. As the women are put through tasks that test their strength, confidence, composure, and bravery, many perish, and Edel is mysteriously attacked by one of the other competitors—forcing her to use her powers just to survive. Will her subterfuge cost her the crown, or is there a larger conspiracy at play?
New York Times best-selling author Dhonielle Clayton returns to her sweeping, lush fantasy series with an all-new story teeming with high-stakes court intrigue and danger disguised by beauty.
About the series:
Why this repackage? Why now?
When my Disney editors approached me about a repackage for the series, I was thrilled. We’d tried several different times to repackage it and struggled to nail a direction until they brought the amazing Katt Phatt onboard for a fresh look. I’m really excited about these covers because I think it will bring new readers to the series as well as hint more at the world of Orléans versus narrowing in on the mail character. I love that the covers have little Easter Eggs that relate to the plot, characters, and world of the novel.
When did you know you wanted to return to the world of Orléans? Did you always have a series plan, or did the idea for The Beauty Trials come together on its own?
I always knew there were three stories I wanted to tell in the world of Orléans, but I hadn’t figured out how I wanted to continue after The Belles and The Everlasting Rose. I had a few unanswered questions that I couldn’t wrap in book 2, so I’d left myself some room for another book. However, I knew Camille’s story had come to an end, and I wanted to find another bridge back into Orléans. I’d left myself a breadcrumb in the first book with the idea of the Beauty Trials and the mythology of the world, so I had my entry point.
You shift focus to a different protagonist in Book 3. Craft-wise, was it easy to slip into her voice since you’d written the character before, or did you have a process for immersing yourself in her headspace?
We get to follow Camille’s sister Edel in The Beauty Trials and I’ve always wanted more time with this character because she’s so ornery, impolite, and irreverent. These are my favorite types of characters because they reject tradition proudly. We don’t always give female characters the space to be unlikeable or angry. In order to write Edel, I had to revisit her in the first two books and spend some time figuring out the true source of her anger, so I could find her voice. Given current events, I didn’t find it hard to slip into a burn it all mentality, and I might’ve loved writing Edel’s voice more than Camille’s, but don’t tell her.
Court intrigue and action are an electric combination—is the peril in these books always informed by the politics, or do you occasionally throw a wrench in the works just for fun?
I am trash for court intrigue and action in all fantasy books. I go into these secondary worlds looking for the drama – hah! When I’m working on a fantasy novel, usually the politics of the world help drive the plot engine so I spend a lot of time thinking through what the status quo of the world is before I find the character that might cause the most trouble.
What do you hope readers take away from The Beauty Trials? Is there anything you included purely for yourself?
I hope readers think about what they’d do for their families and loved ones. Edel is on a journey to protect her sisters even if that means sacrificing herself. I hope readers can think about how they can face their fears in the face of helping others. I threw in a love triangle purely for myself 😊.