Author: Emma Theriault
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Age Range: Young Adult
Release Date: November 10, 2020
Happily ever after. The famous last words to all of our favorite fairy tales, but have you ever wondered if that’s really the case? Disney is out to answer that question with its new series, The Queen’s Council, which looks to blend the happily ever after’s of their princesses with historical fiction. Its first book, Rebel Rose, looks at Belle in the throes of the French Revolution.
Rebel Rose picks up after Belle and the Beast (renamed Lio) have been married, but things are already growing complicated:
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.
…But Where is the Rebel Rose?
My biggest problem with this book is the portrayal of Belle. Gone is the headstrong, caring woman from the Beauty and the Beast. Instead, Rebel Rose’s Belle is unsure, passive and, often times, comes across as selfish. A great deal of the story revolves around Belle being weary of taking titles, despite that being the best way of helping her people. Aside from that, she doesn’t have much chemistry with any of the other characters, especially Lio.
Throughout the story, we’re told that Belle loves Lio, but I feel like it’s never obvious in the way they interact with one another. Which leads me to another problematic element. There is much more telling than showing, and it becomes tiresome and overdone. Belle worries upon the same issues throughout the entirety of Rebel Rose, so it almost starts to feel like the novel repeats itself.
This also affects the plot, which feels like it moves very slowly. The author spends pages on Belle’s inner monologue while big political moves are skipped over with just a few paragraphs. There’s not enough action to be considered an adventure, and not nearly enough detail in the political moves to call it intrigue, so it ends up feeling like a messy attempt at both.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Rebel Rose was its artwork. The cover is absolutely stunning with gold metallic elements that really make it pop. Every chapter begins with a page semi-covered in rose vines, and these tiny, magical details are what we truly love and expect from Disney.
Despite my complaints, this is a super cool concept, and I am looking forward to seeing what princess is featured in the next book. Going forward, I hope they do more to actually intertwine history with these stories, making them feel grittier and more genuine.
Verdict: Rebel Rose ultimately withers compared to what it was promising. This selfish, passive Belle is a stranger to the reader compared to the headstrong, caring woman we know from the feature film. She becomes unlikeable, and she is surrounded by a cast of flat characters that aren’t much better. Characters aside, I think saying this story revolves around the French Revolution is kind of a leap; nothing seems to happen for a majority of the book, with action revving up in the last few chapters. Ultimately, a lot of time was spent telling rather than showing, and that leaves Rebel Rose feeling lifeless and dull.
- Cool concept
- Great artwork and beautiful cover
- Flat, dull characters
- Belle seems like a totally different character
- More telling than showing
- It doesn't feel like anything actually happens