The Everlasting Rose: A disappointing sequel

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

The Everlasting Rose (2019) is the sequel to Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles, a novel that is a finalist for the Hugo and Locus Awards for Best Young Adult novel this year. I enjoyed The Belles despite some problems with characterization such as a boring romance and a totally over-the-top villain. If you haven’t yet read The Belles, but intend to, it’d be best to skip this review since I can’t help but spoil some of its plot here.

The Everlasting Rose picks up right where The Belles ends. Camellia, Amber, Edel and Remy have escaped the palace and are hiding in another city. According to the news, Princess Charlotte, who was healed by Camellia, has also fled the palace and is hiding while she recuperates. Sophia, the tyrannical princess, and now queen regent, has sent soldiers throughout the kingdom to hunt them down. She is building a new prison in which to store her enemies. She tells her subjects that she will soon produce Charlotte’s body and then crown herself queen. Camellia and her sisters hope to find their other sisters and to ally with a resistance group. Camellia also hopes to discover how they might eventually end the Belles’ enslavement by the royal family.

After the excitement of The Belles, I found The Everlasting Rose to be a disappointing sequel. The story continues to move quickly, but the plot feels disorganized and undisciplined, some events feel random or unnecessary, and too much of the action is hard to credit. There are too many times when things just happen to work out, even when the plans are complicated and dangerous. For example, allies happen to be in the right place, the only person who can see through the glamour happens to be the person who will help, guards fall asleep at the right time, something isn’t guarded, or somebody isn’t paying attention, or the soldiers loudly announce (on multiple occasions) that they are going to start searching for our heroes, giving them time to hide or escape. Characters do dumb things like send secret messages which they sign with their names or start screaming when they need to be stealthy.

Belles, The Kindle Edition by Dhonielle Clayton (Author)

Book 1

Clayton’s prose is nice though, as before, it becomes repetitive with dessert-influenced imagery:

The blue-domed buildings glimmer like cream tarts frosted with blueberry glaze.

The deep brown of his irises is rimmed with red like chocolate malt candies dipped in cherry glaze.

The beams illuminate the rich brownness of her skin like honey drizzled on a square of chocolate.

I was hoping to be challenged in some way by this series. As I mentioned in my review of The Belles, the publisher’s blurb promises something “deeper” having to do with “commodification of women’s bodies, gender equality, racial identity, and vanity.” The “vanity” and “commodification of women’s bodies” is there (along with men’s) but it’s a huge stretch to say that these stories address gender equality and racial identity. This is disappointing. It’s not clear whether there will be a third book in the BELLES series.

The audio editions produced by Blackstone Audio are very well done. Rosie Jones mispronounces “bayou” every time, but other than that, her voice and cadence are appropriate and her performance is lovely.

Published in 2019. In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia’s Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle 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 restore peace to Orleans.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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