Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault
Releases: November 10, 2020
"Happily ever after was just the beginning..."
I love fairytales. Disney is my jam, and I wrote my college thesis on fairytales. So, this is very much My Area. I was so thrilled to receive an early e-ARC of this! However, as a a retelling/continuation of Beauty and the Beast, the story didn't quite hit the mark I was expecting it to. But as a book on its own, I really enjoyed it. I hope that will make more sense as I continue with my review.
First of all, I love the cover and the premise of this story. I was hooked from the moment I heard Beauty and the Beast, and it quickly became one of my most anticipated reads for 2020. While I enjoyed it, I do think one should know going in that this isn't the Belle and Beast from the Disney movie. I mean, technically it is, but not how I imagined them. Let me explain.
Rebel Rose follows Belle and Lio (the Beast) after they break the curse with their love, causing the Beast to turn human and the castle and its inhabitant to return to what they once were. Newly married, the couple travels to Paris as part of their tour-of-the-country honeymoon. Only, Paris isn't the city Belle once knew and loved. Set at the onset of the French Revolution (Bastille Day included), Paris is full of riots and marches as the people urge their King hiding in Versailles to hear them. Frightened of what will happen to their own kingdom of Aveyon, Belle and Lio, along with Lio's cousin from Paris, return to Aveyon to stop the unrest from following them home. Belle and Lio fight to make the changes necessary to keep Aveyon happy and safe from the unrest in the rest of France. Revolution is coming, but can Belle and Lio stop it from taking over the kingdom they just saved from a 10-year curse? I loved the idea of historical fantasy mixed with a fairytale retelling, however, the version of Lio and Belle I got from the book is not the Belle and Lio I loved from the movie. We still get Belle and her library, and even see the town she grew up in and some of its townfolk you may remember from the movie. However, Belle really differentiates herself from her movie counterpart after that. She adamantly fights against the title of princess and queen, to the point where I found myself annoyed as she put herself in front of the kingdom she supposedly holds dear to her heart after years of yearning to leave it behind. Her stubbornness (which I really didn't see in her from the movie) causes her to make some rather bad decisions and she questions herself constantly. The Belle I grew up loving was more strong willed and courageous, putting those she loves before herself.
Lio also felt like a step back from the Beast we got to know in the movie. But, this is probably rather obvious seeing as he's no longer a beast. However, I think part of my expected those hard parts of him to stick around in his personality in some ways, especially when it came to being a leader. I thought he would come across as strong and resilient, but, that was not the case. Instead, I felt like he and Belle both became meek and mild, which was a little disappointing.
The writing style itself leaned more towards a running course of Belle's thoughts, which was an interesting approach to the story. But, she spent too much time wanting to be the peasant she once was rather than embracing her role and changing things to suit her fellow commoners. I didn't get a lot of the "rebel" qualities from her that I felt when watching the movie. I felt as if she took a step back and became a different person. However, the book itself was pretty great. If you don't look at it as a retelling or continuation of Beauty and the Beast, then I think it makes a really interesting historical fiction book. I loved the addition of the French Revolution, and I also loved the new characters in the book. I think without the connection to Belle and her beast, the book stands very well on its own and is quite enjoyable! The new characters added intrigue to the story that I didn't get from the beloved characters of the movie. I was really into the court intrigue that they brought and the history that came with adding them. While we don't actually meet King Louis or Marie Antoinette, I enjoyed reading about them and the Paris that they brought to the brink. It was definitely an interesting take on the revolution and seeing it through Belle's eyes.
With that being said, I still think you should pick up a copy of this fun read and enjoy it for the escape it is!
You can buy your copy here!