Hi everyone! Me again! Today I’m back with a more traditional review, this time for Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller and, wow, this book took me by surprise with just how much I adored it!!
Title: Belle Révolte
Author: Linsey Miller
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBT+, Retelling
Rating: 5 Stars – 9.71 CAWPILE rating
Synopsis: Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.
Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.
Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.
But when their nation instigates a terrible war, Emilie and Annette come together to help the rebellion unearth the truth before it’s too late.
I originally pre-ordered this book right at the start of the year after finding out that it is a sapphic prince and the pauper retelling with a French inspired fantasy world (also just look at that cover!), because, honestly, who doesn’t want that in a book? But after trying to read it earlier in the year and not getting through the first few pages (thanks fantasy reading slump) I put it down. I have to say, I’m so glad I pulled it out of my TBR jar this month because it absolutely blew me away and I can honestly say that it’s one of the best stand alone fantasy novels I’ve ever read!
I loved both our main characters, Annette and Emilie, equally and never once wished I was reading from the other’s perspective. Emilie starts off as a young noble woman who is being forced into going to finishing school to learn the midnight arts by her mother, who has never really understood her, when all she really wants to do is learn how to wield the noonday arts and become a physician. However, young women are not allowed to become physicians, as it is seen as a man’s job. So, Emilie trades places with Annette, who wishes to go to the finishing school but does not have the money to do so, while Emilie goes to the University to study to become a hack. Emilie was so stubborn and cocky and I loved her snarkiness! Her competition with Charles to become a better healer than the other was so fun to read! Annette is one of the strongest female characters I think I’ve ever read. She deals with so much throughout the novel (I don’t want to give away any spoilers) and yet is always thinking of others. They are honestly two of my favourite characters I have ever read from. I also loved the ‘side’ characters and all the friendships and relationships throughout and the found families were, of course, absolutely *chef’s kiss*!
The atmosphere and world-building was absolutely phenomenal! There are two different types of magic – the midnight arts (divining, scrying) and the noonday arts (healing, fighting) – which are seen as opposites. Women are often steered towards the midnight arts and men towards the noonday arts. The way these different magic systems work was so original and so interesting, particularly the use of hacks, so that those wielding the noonday arts can do so in a much stronger manner. The two schools for the two different kinds of magic – Mlle Gardinier’s School (midnight) and The University (noonday) – were both so interesting and they both had the same atmosphere as their respective magics would suggest. Elsewhere, we also see the war camps in Segance and also, briefly, Bosquet, which were both so bustling and busy.
As for the plot, I was always on the edge of my seat. This book is so much darker than I expected it to be. Although the start of the book was a tad info-dumpy the rest of the book seemed to fly by. The resistance, headed by Laurel, played a large part and the discussions on gender and power were done so well. There were a few deaths that caught me by surprise and absolutely destroyed me, and the last 100 pages or so were so fast paced I ended up reading until the earlier hours of the morning because I couldn’t go to sleep without finishing (and that ending! I NEED a sequel!)!
I’m going to briefly touch on the rep – Annette is a biromantic ace girl who talks about being in relationships with both boys and girls and discusses being ace several times throughout the book. She also enters into a sapphic relationship in the book! Charles is a trans man and the discussion on gender also includes being trans in this world. There are other characters throughout who are part of the LGBT community, including a lesbian couple (whom I LOVED) and there are several characters of colour as well.
I tried to keep this review as calm and composed as possible when really I want to rave about this book non stop! All I can say is read this book now! It really is just So Good!!