Book Review: Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault

Publisher: Autumn
Format: Paperback
Release Date: November 26th, 2020

Rating: 3/5 Stars

I was so excited for this series, especially as I’ve pretty consistently adored the Twisted Tales series of books. The Queen’s Council is a new series of Disney books, exploring what happens to the princesses we know and love when they step up into their roles as rulers, all with the thread of a mysterious figure who is guiding them along. This series is rooted in Historical fiction, using the real-world time periods of the princesses as a backdrop. For Belle, that means dealing with the French Revolution.

I was extra keen on this because I’ve read a few Historical Fantasy books set around the same time period, and I really like it as a setting. I was hoping this would almost be a Disney Princess version of them, but unfortunately Rebel Rose didn’t really live up to expectations.

Some of the events feel a little convoluted, and there are some ‘twists’ towards the end that throughout were maybe a touch too obvious. The writing style is good, and suited to the story and target audience, but other aspects just felt a little forced.

It also feels like it’s more inspired by the live action remake, rather than the original animated movie (which I definitely prefer). Anyway, in both films, The Beast has no name (no, his name’s not Adam, though I had to search that information out), but in this novel he’s ‘Lio’, after his mother’s childhood nickname ‘lion’.  The book sees Belle and Lio travelling to France, for Lio to return to nobility. Their host is Bastien, The Beast’s cousin, a Duc who knows the courts and can help Lio navigate it all.

The revolution is brewing in Paris, and Belle witnesses some of it first-hand. This is where my biggest annoyance with the book came in. It seems at parts as if the revolution is looked on if not favourably, at least with the bit of nuance required for something like that. But ultimately, the nuance is dropped, Belle flits back and forth between maybe this is what is needed and oh no revolution bad. She wants to help but doesn’t know how to, and it ends up almost taking the view of revolution = bad, nobility = good!

Although Lio is a prince, Belle has refused the title of princess. My main issue with Belle’s character is it all feels really out of place. She’s unsure of herself in ways she wasn’t in the film (which this is supposed to be a sequel to) and rather than building on Belle’s character it feels like a lot of what made her Belle is stripped away.

Lio/The Beast is very different, too. Some of the aspects I liked – the book does show him struggling with what could be PTSD following his experiences as ‘The Beast’. He just wants to do what is best for his people, but Lio hasn’t known ‘his people’ for a decade. I like, too, how the book showed some cracks in their relationship, with the strain various events put on them. However, ultimately the most interesting parts of the book were skimmed over when they could have been explored more, Lio and Belle are split up for the majority of the book, and there were just too many instances where Belle expresses concern and Lio is easily led away from listening to her. It just felt too different from their actual characters to feel like a continuation of the story.

This was a really interesting concept, but was let down by the execution and what felt like an almost disinterest in the revolution. Some ideas were really intriguing, but it felt like some were introduced but not fully explored. It’s a weak start to the series overall – here’s hoping the next books are a bit better.

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