Saturday, September 5, 2020

Off Book: REBEL ROSE by Emma Theriault


Description from Disney:

Happily ever after is only the beginning as Belle takes on the responsibility of becoming queen and learns to balance duty, love, and sacrifice, all while navigating dark political intrigue—and a touch of magic.

It’s 1789 and France is on the brink of revolution. Belle has finally broken the Enchantress’s curse, restoring the Beast to his human form, and bringing life back to their castle in the province of Aveyon. But in Paris, the fires of change are burning, and it’s only a matter of time before the rebellion arrives on their doorstep.

Belle has always dreamed of leaving her provincial home for a life of adventure. But now she finds herself living in a palace, torn between her roots as a commoner, and her future as a royal. When she stumbles across a mysterious, ancient magic that brings with it a dire warning, she must question whether she is ready for the power being thrust on her, and if being Queen is more than just a title.

Rebel Rose is the first in the Queen’s Council series, an empowering fairy tale reimagining of the Disney Princesses—and the real history behind their stories—like you’ve never seen before.


I adored this book! Theriault gives us the perfect blend of Disney and historical detail, in a compelling but utterly readable voice. 

Belle is brought to life as a likable and relatable heroine, and her progression from feeling uncomfortable with her new royal-adjacent role to claiming it in order to help the principality she was once desperate to leave for far-flung adventure is a satisfying journey. When she finally cuts through all the delicious political intrigue, she had me cheering along with the rest of Aveyon (a moment that also had me choking up). 

It's fun seeing many of the characters from the animated and recent live action films come into play--I am so here for Big Virgo Energy Cogsworth, and a feisty Mrs. Potts plays an important role as advisor to Belle, not directing her but inspiring her to find her strength. It's really a joy seeing a relationship like that between older and younger female characters, along with another female friendship for Belle that was a highlight of the book for me. Plus, when Mrs. Potts used a potty mouth (just the once!) it made me laugh--definitely a glimmer of Emma Thompson in the role there! There was also deft handling of the "gay moment" introduced at the end of the live action film. I don't want to get into spoilers, but I appreciate how in the book it's evolved into a presentation with real empathy, plus Theriault includes multiple representations of queerness and also uses all that rich historical research to bring in new characters of color.

The romance is just what I think fans of BATB will be looking for--no questioning of the love between Belle and her prince, just the pair facing new challenges together and apart. There are several adorably sweet moments between the two (hello, ponytail!), and a heartfelt treatment of the emotional aftereffects of the curse they've been through, as well as the rocky start to their relationship.

I think readers will love the clearly well-researched historical detail in the descriptions of France and Aveyon, and there's enough courtly machinations to keep them guessing along with Belle as she goes from the rowdy streets of Paris to the principality and people she's desperate to protect. This is a great read to get swept up in, with plenty of far-off places and magic spells--I couldn't put it down!

No comments: