Review: The Everlasting Rose

Camille has had to flee from Princess, now Queen, Sophia. Obsessed with beauty and the Belles, Sophia has become dangerously unstable, and is enacting new laws. Camille’s only hope is to find the hidden princess Charlotte, only recently awakened, and put her on the throne. The risk is no longer losing beauty, but losing life.

The Everlasting Rose is the second novel in The Belles duology by Dhonielle Clayton. I read the first novel, The Belles, last year (and I reviewed it here) and I immediately fell in love with the world of Orléans. Clayton did an amazing job building up this location, so I was excited to dive back in with this novel.

I know what you want to know first: is the design of this one as breathtaking as the first one? I will say it’s just a tiny bit less exquisite, but it’s hard to compete with the absolutely gorgeous design of the first one. Under the dust jacket, they went with gray and purple instead of white and gold, so it did have a different feel. The map at the beginning in deep blue, however, was even better than the map in pink, so that made up for it.

The map is actually very important to the story this time, as the plot leads the characters around this world much more than the previous book did. In fact, the plot really leads everything in this novel, allowing for little else. I was disappointed to see that there was much less world-building here, especially since there was so much travel. I suppose there just wasn’t enough time.

OK, I have to admit I’m going to have a hard time going into the rest of the particularities of my thoughts without spoiling the book, but I’ll try my best. I’ll try to be as vague as possible, but I hope you forgive me if you’re able to suss out specifics from what I say.

As part of the plot, several new characters were introduced, including several who had not been referenced in the first one but turned out to be instrumental here. But their appearances felt a little too convenient to me. Stuff kept coming out of the woodwork, propelling the plot forward, but not really doing much more. I was annoyed at this almost Deux Ex Machina turn, actually, and wish the problem had been solved without these random characters, especially since we spend so little time with them that I hardly got to know them. It was clear that they were there to provide a service and nothing more.

And speaking of convenience, we get some extremely quick character redemption arcs, most of which take place “off screen,” which made them much less compelling and much less believable. There’s also more than one. I wasn’t thrilled about this either, since it all came about a little too easily, in my opinion.

But one thing that didn’t come about easily was the resolution of the novel. I have to give it to Clayton: she’s not an author who won’t take risks. There are more than a few deaths in this novel, and I won’t say who it is, but I will say that they were very surprising. Was I also surprised at the fact that there wasn’t more emotion behind them? Yes, that too. Where was the pain and the mourning? There was more depth to be explored there and it wasn’t fully done.

Speaking of not fully done, I was more than a little disappointed that while we get a huge climax, we don’t get to see the one that is constantly referenced throughout the novel. We got a moment where Camille shows pain and anguish and power, but then it sort of trickles to an end and I wanted more.

I finished The Everlasting Rose in two days, which wasn’t hard as it was actually shorter than The Belles. That really should have tipped me off that the novel didn’t do all it could have done in going deeper. Basically, it needed more. Entertaining, but ultimately not as satisfying an ending as I was expecting. I liked the first novel much better.

Have you read The Everlasting Rose? What did you think? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments!


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